The term ASMR was coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen, a 39-year-old penetration tester. “For years I thought, ‘Jeez, maybe I have a brain tumour or something,’” she recalls. From 1999 onwards, Allen searched steadfastly for others like her online. In the late noughties, she stumbled upon a SteadyHealth.com forum in which a user named okaywhatever51838 discussed a “weird sensation” that “feels good”.
Have you ever felt a static-like or tingling sensation on the top of your head when someone brushes your hair or whispers to you? The feeling may travel down your arms and your spine, and it likely makes you feel very relaxed. Some call it a “sparkly” feeling, and it might happen when you hear someone crinkle a piece of paper or when someone traces a word on your back.
So how do you know if you have ASMR? There’s no single way to tell for sure, but for starters, you can watch some of the internet’s most popular videos and determine whether they elicit a tingling response. And for your convenience, we’ve compiled some of the best ASMR videos that YouTube has to offer—so get those goose bumps ready, and while you’re at it, try these brain teasers to find out whether you’re smarter than an astronaut.
Why does this exist? Because some people experience ASMR, aka autonomous sensory meridian response, a condition that means certain sounds cause you to experience a pleasant, tingly feeling on your scalp, or around the top of your spine. Sounds weird, has in fact been around for a while – by late 2016, approximately 5.2 million ASMR videos had been uploaded to YouTube.
I can trigger it at will, whenever I want with any kind of intensity as I please. I can concentrate the sensation in any place of my body, say tip of a single finger or my whole body. But, I want to know, is it wrong to abuse it? Or is it good? What can happen if I continue using it? By the way, I don’t need external stimuli to activate it, just the desire to do it, it’s like moving your hand.
I’ve always had this triggered by intense personal attention on either me or something I’ve done. In particular, having someone stare intently at something I’ve written or drawn on paper (or imagining/remembering that type of incident) triggers it very consistently. Intensely focused photography of myself or a body part (not sexual) also is very effective. I was recently watching a sporting event and noticing the camera tracking the athletes – just imagining how the athlete would feel with this non-stop camera attention was also a trigger. Dentists don’t really do it for me, but regular checkups with any sort of focused attention on any body part works. There’s something about the very concept of another person finding either me or my ideas/thoughts interesting enough to examine at length. A glance is just not enough. It’s kinda funny but this has triggered like a dozen times just while writing this comment out and thinking about these things!
I experience this occasionally. The strongest occasion was approx 12 years ago. I was in the “High Country” NE Victoria, North of a town called Mansfield. I was out hunting Sambar Deer, 10 K’s from my off sider and in open bush land. About 1 Hr prior I came across droppings from wild dogs which were prevalent in the area and a real problem for farmers. I had this sensation all over my head and down my neck, it scared me. I had the feeling someone, something was watching me and was a bit shaken. I pulled myself together and continued my hunt. Never came across any deer or anything else that day.
I get this response, but I don't always like the feeling. If someone pulls down a projector screen, like those found in classrooms, i get a tingling sensation all over my body but I don't associate it with a pleasurable feeling. It's almost like nails on a chalkboard. I feel the same way about listening to a violin. The whispering though is a pleasurable ASMR response for me.
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.
1. Do you have different reactions depending on who is the source of the sound? For example, I have very distinctive reactions, i.e. if someone from my relatives does the mouth sounds, I get irritated and at times even angry. I even leave the kitchen if I hear my relatives making the sounds while eating. Purely biological, can’t explain it. The sounds are unpleasant for me. But if a random person or someone I barely know from an opposite sex does the mouth sounds, I can get ASMR or pleasurable feelings.
Call it a “tingletron”, or a “relaxacet” or something like that if you must, but please don’t call it “orgasmatron” (personally, I think “head massager” or “scalp massager” works just fine). I have one, and yes, I do agree that they are awesome btw. I also find that every time I discover a new massage toy/tool it always triggers me just to look at it.
I used to think it was something religious then it was triggered by non religious music. I think mine is tied to ideas that seem to be deep and profound to me. When I really feel my place as one human among billions that is hurling through space on a small rock that is spinning around a constant nuclear fusion explosion. Connection to Humanity and Beauty.
So far there have been two scientific studies successfully published, both by researchers based in the UK. The first from Swansea University was published on PeerJ March 26th 2015 entitled ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) – A flow like mental state’ which concluded ‘We have provided the first investigation into the phenomenon of autonomic sensory meridian response (ASMR). ASMR can be induced, in those who are susceptible, by a fairly consistent set of triggers. Given the reported benefits of ASMR in improving mood and pain symptoms, we suggest that ASMR warrants further investigation as a potential therapeutic measure similar to that of meditation and mindfulness’
I would spend all Friday, Saturday drawing outlines with my 3 best friends, discussing art, colour and symmetry for hours, then spend all Saturday night bombing trains, painting together would activate it intensely, in the dark, spooky and exhilarating all at the same time, while four kids spent their weekends silently breaking the law to paint Top-to-Bottom Wholecars just for art’s sake)
“There is a bit of culinary seduction or sensualized seduction in those videos, and some of our minds go there because they are young females,” Richard said. “I would not label them erotic ASMR, which is much more blatant. These are food ASMR. ASMR inherently has a strong tone of intimacy, so there is an aspect of connectivity associated with ASMR that can overlap into things like sensuality or sexualization, but they are different.”
Having previously practiced yoga and meditation for over 10 years, I can induce ASMR at will, or "bliss", as it's called in the spiritual community. It's often part of the very first steps on a spiritual journey, though no requirement. These videos didn't induce ASMR in me though, so maybe it's a different sensation than "bliss", or different triggers.
A: I was just so enamored with the community because it was different than everything else on YouTube then. Everything was very look at me, loud, very grab your attention. I was like, I can’t watch this to relax. The fact that people were putting in the time and effort to make these videos for people to relax, I was like, “That is just so nice! So wholesome! I want to be a part of that community.”
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I accidentally clicked on a youtube makeup review video not knowing what ASMR was. They were unboxing some beauty purchase and I thought they'd show the product but there was all this scratching awfulness. I downvote rarely but it was so deeply unpleasant. There were other videos with ASMR in the title and I clicked on a few - same thing. Spine-tingling, hair raising allright but for me it's so so unpleasant. Am I the only one? I literally feel pained by some of it! And the ones where the ladies whisper to be soothing I suppose but what's most salient to me are the lip smacking type of sounds that are just one step below someone eating slurpy and annoying. I hate hate hate the sounds of people's lip smacking type sounds as they speak. I was baffled that this ASMR was apparently a pleasurable thing for people based on there being channels devoted to it whereas I could tolerate only a few seconds of each, no more than 20-30 seconds that is if I forced myself to see if it turned into a better experience somehow. No no no... I feel at best mild disgust and at worst like someone is sending electric shocks through my spine. Then I looked it up and I see and "get" what it's supposed to be, but I just can't experience it as a positive thing and I can't expose myself to more of it as it's just subjectively awful for me! Am I alone? Are there people who hate this stuff? Perhaps this has to do with my sensory sensitivity? I have neuropathic pain, which messed up a lot of touch sensation for me so I thought maybe that is why. But thinking back, even before I got the neuropathy, I didn't like to be touched much, I would feel pain during massages that others seemed to enjoy, and for as long as I remember since childhood I had an area on my scalp down near the nape of my neck, that if touched directly (e.g., scalp massage) or indirectly (e.g., during haircuts) would send an unpleasant shiver down my back all the way to my pelvic bone in the back. I always tried to suppress reacting to these but would then avoid massages and would hold on to my chair when that area was stimulated during haircuts (and eventually started cutting my own hair). I have always hated smacking lip sounds - I can't eat if someone is eating loud and lose attention if someone is talking with lip sounds. I have sensory sensitivities such that I cannot stand fluorescent lights, and even incandescent bright lights and need to be in soft lighting. I also cannot tolerate noise or strong odors at all. So it would seem like I am the type of person who needs the soothing types of sensory experiences others seem to get from ASMR. I need soft, soothing sensory environment or else I have increased anxiety, tension and my chronic pain gets worse. I would seem like I would benefit from something like ASMR in theory, but paradoxically, everything I have tried to expose myself to so far that was called ASMR, I couldn't stop fast enough. They were not simply not pleasant but I found them clearly aversive - deeply uncomfortable and like nails on chalkboard awful in some cases. I have studied neuroscience, psychiatry and neurobiology, obtaining a PhD and have over a decade working in neuropsychology. Trying to guess why I am having no lu: nck with ASMR - in fact, having completely the opposite response! - I considered the following: I have autism in my family, mostly high functining but this is also often associated with sensory sensitivities. While I do not have ASD diagnosis, I score rather high on autism scales, mainly on sensory sensitivities and systemising approach dimensions (and not on social dimensions). I am very intrigued by this unexpectedly negative response I have to these and wondering if this is something that is also found and if so, what is known about it.
2. Do you get rush through the spine and scalp when catching adrenaline? For example, while doing sports and trying to boost myself even further, I watch Zombie pov clips, like this one – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvICHck3PIg, I get huge rush of adrenaline up the spine and neck, because I feel like I’m running in that clip. But I also get peaks of euphoric rush in my head and I scratch the scalp, the crown of the head in circles. It’s definitely not ASMR I am experiencing, but the same thing – scratching the crown of the head is attributed to both, ASMR and this.
Bob Ross ALWAYS triggers this response (I have 15+ Joy of Painting episodes saved on my DVR right now). While all the other videos triggered my ASMR somewhat, the Rushka tea one had the most effect. I also like to watch people doing crafts (the sound of scissors cutting construction paper is amazing). Getting a massage or just watching someone get a massage (I can even read the description of spa treatments & have an ASMR response!) I love my hair to be played with too! As you probably know, the list can go on forever!!
Then begins the whispering voice of an English girl named WhisperingLife and with it the very first Whisper video. Since this time the feeling brought on by the whispering has been given its name as ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) and Whisperers have been named ASMRtists. Other terms are Sleep Whisperer, Whisper Therapist or just ASMR Content Creator. By now there are so many more content creators, very likely in the hundreds. There is a style, sound and personality for everyone.
Mockery is a problem for any child in the limelight – one of Jacob Daniel’s fellow ASMRtist United founders quit YouTube after being picked on at school. Kelly says there are rumours that one girl at school said she was “annoying”, but most people think her channel is “cool”. Yet Kelly isn’t just a famous ASMRtist – she is also a meme. On social media, people edit her videos into short clips and share them with relatable captions.
A: I thought it was awesome. They hit the nail on the head. You can tell they did their research: They had the binaural microphones, had her whispering back and forth. They had tapping, nice sounds. They definitely watched content and had done their research on what ASMR is supposed to be. They, of course, blew it up, made it Hollywood, used a big budget, and so it was very cool. They were accurate.
She made her first ASMR video in February 2011, filming herself as she leafed through a journal and played with seashells. The video logged just two views in a month, and Maria was so disappointed that she deleted it. A few months later, she tried again; this time, there were a few encouraging comments. She kept at it, and by the end of the year, she had 30,000 subscribers. Nearly three years later, she has more than 300,000.
“I can tell you first hand, I tried chalk, one of the natural kinds that everyone “loves” and I IMMEDIATELY knew it was not for me,” the user told Motherboard. “And I frequently tell people, and it is almost always young women, who ask me if I chew chalk or clay the reasons why I don’t: 1) It was a nasty experience from both a taste and textural standpoint; 2) Dental work is expensive, and I’m not risking mine for something that I don’t enjoy.”
I first encountered ASMR, as do most people, as a child. I never knew exactly what it was. I experienced it when certain teachers spoke, during certain TV shows and at the dentist. I didn’t understand the sensation but enjoyed it, and would try and stay very calm and relaxed every time it happened to try and lengthen my experience of it. You can read the full story of how I found ASMR in this post.
And just last month, Richard and colleagues published data that shows results of fMRI brain imaging scans for 10 individuals (who all previously reported experiencing ASMR) as they watched an ASMR video and reported feeling the sensation. The parts of the brain active when we’re socially engaged with others, when we feel empathy, and when our brain’s reward centers are on, appeared to be active when people said they experienced ASMR.
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.
According to Setz, this citation generally alludes to the effectiveness of the human voice and soft or whispered vocal sounds specifically as a trigger of ASMR for many of those who experience it, as demonstrated by the responsive comments posted to YouTube videos that depict someone speaking softly or whispering, typically directly to camera.