But the phenomenon has nonetheless burst into the mainstream, thanks to mounting media coverage and a few high-profile references: “Saturday Night Live” alum Molly Shannon gushed to Conan O’Brien about her “head orgasms,” induced by the methodical touch of airport security pat-downs; novelist Andrea Seigel shared her experience with ASMR on the radio program “This American Life” last year; the “Dr. Oz” show has featured ASMR videos as a way to ease insomnia.
When she first felt it, she had no idea what it was. In kindergarten in central Russia, Maria and her friends would sometimes tickle each other gently, running their fingers over the skin of their forearms. For Maria, the experience was transcendent, sending a cascade of goosebumps over her head and down her back: “I would be left in a zombie-like state,” she says. “I would just be so relaxed.”
A: I’ve been watching ASMR for about eight years. I was a horrible sleeper and could never go to bed, so I was just always watching YouTube on my phone. I stumbled on one of the videos, and I literally never stopped watching. When I was a film major, I was always into YouTube; I loved the internet culture; I loved everything about ASMR. I was so familiar with the community and who was in it and the little nuances. I was like, “If I’m going to start a YouTube channel, I think I would do ASMR.” I didn’t think anyone would like what I had to offer, but I knew I wanted to take it seriously.
ASMR doesn’t work for everyone and it can be tough to imagine the sensation if you don’t experience it first-hand. For most people who do experience it, the blissful tingling starts up in the scalp and then makes its way through the body to the arms and legs. And as a result, it can trigger a feeling of relaxation before bedtime, which can help you overcome insomnia. The audio/video segments are long—in fact, some last up to an hour. They are lengthy so that you can keep watching or listening to them until you drift off.
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. A feeling that is produced when listening to certain sounds and/or looking at certain visuals. The majority of people who experience ASMR don't mention it to their peers. I can almost guarantee that, you, reading this paragraph, has not mentioned ASMR to anyone you know. Most likely because you think they will think you're weird. We all feel the same way!
Okay, I’ll look those up. Thank you! Unfortunately, I don’t have many opportunities to experience ASMR in real life because I am house-bound from chronic illness, and am restricted to bed rest at the moment. I don’t have any friends here in town- one friend lives in Australia, another lives in Germany, and the last one lives on the other side of the state from me- and most of my real-life triggers are centered around other people. I will definitely give those videos a try! Even without the tingles, most ASMR videos are so relaxing to me that they actually calm me down, even when I am in a ton of pain! And trust me when I say that that is no small feat!
A: I’m so happy more people are hearing about it. It’s been very positive, just considering how weird it can seem to some people. A lot of people have misconceptions about it, but the more we’re talking about it, the more it’s understood. It used to take me forever to explain to someone what I do, but now they’re like, “Oh it’s that relaxing thing, right?” People have started understanding what it is, so I think it’s great that it’s going mainstream.
I’ve had these triggers for years, going back to when I was around 8 years old. Years later, while watch Bob Ross, on PBS, I noticed that I fell asleep, and awoke 30 minutes later, totally relaxed. This happened with several other television shows as well as watching people involved in repetitive tasks, such as the lady at the gym, sweeping the floors or while having the hygienist clean my teeth. All I know is this: Whatever it is, it feels good in the back of my brain. This reminds me of my son’s study of binuarals-the constant tones, which, when experienced via headphones, causes different reactions, such as enhanced creativity or inner-peace. Perhaps those involved in Music Therapy will find this helpful in the treatment of their brain-injured patients. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was given music therapy as part of her rehabilitation. It’s nice to have the internet to share these things.
And part of the reason it is seemingly addictive is that it causes your brain to release endorphins (feel good hormone) in an easy and effective manner. Doing that regularly can cause you to crave more. So far it seems harmless, I never heard of someone who has issues because of it. And the research done seems to say it is harmless. But it is just a good feeling induced through sound rather than a substance so you seek more of it. Just enjoy it for all those who cannot
It's funny - for me some of these clips didn't quite work. But they sure did for my rabbit who listens to various forms of media - tv, radio, conference calls, me - most of the day. He usually is quite a passive listener and will only occasionally respond with ear turning or a change in position that shows he's listening to something different that has caught his attention.
Sounds work ok, but I have always got the most (for lack of better word) intense asmr from touch. They don’t even have to touch me. When I was in 4-5 grade I would get it when someone I dont know well touched something close to me like my favorite stuffed animal or the eraser I use every day at school. Now I can just get lightly touched on the face and it will happen. I can just think about it and get it now.
I didn’t know there was a name for this! I experience the shivers whilst just sitting and using my imagination to draw white light into the top of my head and the sensation just shoots down my spine like bubbling tickles. Kinda cool to do it on command, but even more fun when it happens randomly through certain music, power tools, meditations, and someone else touching certain fabrics ~ for e few examples. Mostly only occurs when I am already relaxed though.
At the other end of the spectrum, I had a memory of a sexual experience that was such a strong trigger that for almost 15 years after the event, just thinking about that experience could trigger an actual orgasm with full body ASMR. (sorry if that’s TMI) (And don’t anyone be too jealous, I’m now old, gray, fat and long past those days in my life, but I’ve got the memories. LOL)
Emotionally, Kelly and Daniel seem equipped to deal with this backlash (Aoki Hunnicutt remains blissfully unaware of any negativity, and also much else about YouTube fame – at one point during our interview, she asks with concern, “Mummy, I thought we were going to do an interview?”). Yet while they are fine with their fame, it may trouble the young stars to lose it.
Incidentally, I’m now wondering if my embarrassing tendency to well up at almost any expression of art or culture (meaning that I’ve had to perfect a whole range of distraction techniques to prevent my neighbours on the sofa/gallery/theatre/cinema from realising I’m silently blubbing away) is part of this phenomenon. Even a well placed advert, I’m ashamed to say, can set me off. It didn’t occur to me until I found out about the Tingles (sorry, hate the scientised term ASMR) that the tear jerk response might be related to my other sensations. Any thoughts on that, anyone?
Upon first glance of some of the types of videos, the slow movements, close proximity to the camera, the soft voice. Some people assume quickly that all of this is to sexually arouse the viewer. After all we are bombarded with sultry images each day in our media. However everything that happens in the video is to induce ASMR. Those that begin to feel relaxed and enjoy the sounds realise that very soon after settling down to their first videos. Others are not sensitive to it and can’t understand. That’s fine too. Some people are just more sensitive to sound and touch than others.
Four months after Novella's blog post, Tom Stafford, a lecturer in psychology and cognitive sciences at the University of Sheffield, was reported to have said that ASMR "might well be a real thing, but it's inherently difficult to research...something like this that you can't see or feel" and "doesn't happen for everyone". Stafford compared the current status of ASMR with development of attitudes toward synesthesia, which he said "for years...was a myth, then in the 1990s people came up with a reliable way of measuring it".
Some ASMR video creators use binaural recording techniques to simulate the acoustics of a three-dimensional environment, reported to elicit in viewers and listeners the experience of being in close proximity to actor and vocalist. Binaural recordings are usually made using two microphones, just like stereo recordings. However, in binaural recordings the two microphones tend to be more specially designed to mimic ears on humans. In many cases, microphones are separated the same distance as ears are on humans, and microphones are surrounded by ear-shaped cups to get similar reverb as human ears.