The contemporary history of ASMR began on 19 October 2007 on a discussion forum for health-related subjects at a website called Steady Health. A 21-year-old registered user with the handle "okaywhatever" submitted a post describing having experienced a specific sensation since childhood, comparable to that stimulated by tracing fingers along the skin, yet often triggered by seemingly random and unrelated non-haptic events, such as "watching a puppet show" or "being read a story".
The writing in this article helped me understand ASMR, but the videos don't seem to be the best examples (it doesn't help that these examples aren't very long). The best examples of what they are talking about to me would have to be the crackling of a fire. Also, whispering in my ear gives me intense tingles, but part of that may be the vibrations off of my ear drum.
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?
In a 2012 blog post, Steven Novella, an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, compared ASMR to migraine headaches — “We know they exist as a syndrome primarily because many different people report the same constellation of symptoms and natural history,” he wrote — and theorized that ASMR could even be a type of “pleasurable” seizure.
I say “dis-analogy” because when you think about it, ASMR is nothing like an orgasm, and in fact is closer to the exact opposite of an orgasm on the spectrum of things that feel good. Orgasms are short intense bursts that are characterized by tension, desire, need, etc. ASMR often involves letting go, relaxing and just being at peace. I think ASMR is a more anticipatory sensation, where often times the anticipation is actually better than the thing anticipated. But the anticipation of sex, without actual sex is for most people extremely frustrating.
If the amazing feeling from having someone (or in a lesser way myself) tickle me lightly on my arm or the back of my neck, sort of drag their fingers or fingernails lightly across my arm/neck is ASMR, then yes. I also sometimes shiver and get goosebumps if someone’s brushing/playing with my hair… I don’t know if it’s ASMR though. It seems like just being ticklish, though it’s the most amazing feeling.
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.
Since then, I've been watching a vast array of long and otherwise incredibly boring videos specifically designed to produce the ASMR response. Most people I've mentioned it to have no similar response at all, and can't imagine why I'd sit and bliss out to an 18-minute video of a Russian girl folding towels, or a Greek girl waving her hands in my face, or somebody tapping their fingernails on a wooden box.
ASMR refers to the pleasurable sensation people experience when exposed to various specific triggers, either from ASMR videos or in their everyday lives. According to a 2015 study from Swansea University in Wales—the first peer-reviewed research into ASMR—whispering is the most common trigger for ASMR, with 75% of participants experiencing ASMR sensations from it. The other most common triggers were personal attention, crisp sounds (like tapping or crunching), and slow movements, as reported by the group of 475 participants.
"As ASMR has started to come to mainstream attention, researchers have finally begun trying to answer that question. Neuroscientists are now experimenting with fMRIs and electroencephalography to see if the brains of 'tingleheads,' as they are called, are any different than those who don’t tremble at the sight of napkin-folding. They’ve also surveyed tens of thousands of people who say they experience the phenomenon. So far there are intriguing—if limited—findings suggesting that ASMR may relieve some people’s symptoms of stress and insomnia, and that the brains of those who experience it may be organized a little differently."
There are hundreds, if not thousands more of these videos out there. In researching this, what emerged what the picture of an addict who will stop at nothing crunchy, slurpy, or sticky to get his or her nervous fix. At the same time, the videos are oddly soothing—especially as all of these people throw propriety out the door and eat not only with their mouths open, but with microphones practically inside their mouths. To hell with convention, they seem to say. I'm going to whisper at you like a cartoon villain as I rhythmically inhale a plate of spaghetti up-close, gonzo-porn style. It's refreshing, if thoroughly and unambiguously disgusting.
The ASMR community has grown online by the hundreds of thousands over the years so far worldwide and shows no sign of slowing down. As the culture of self awareness, mindfulness and complimentary therapies grow, ASMR is becoming very useful for so many. ASMR content on YouTube is becoming a genre all of its own and strong bonds are being formed between people all over the world. Watch this space for there will undoubtably be much more to come!
I cannot believe that I just found out about ASMR shivers! I never knew other people experienced this or that it even had a name. I thought it was just something that happened to me when I watched people draw (esp on my arm like as in high school) or some yoga instructors voice would make me feel that way. Also I also watch this one Seinfeld clip on youtube over and over because it would make me feel relaxed and almost in a trance. And I thought it was strange so never told anyone and then I saw someone's comment that they got ASMR shivers from the clip and BAM came upon this site. This is crazy!
Austrian writer Clemens J. Setz suggests that a passage from the novel Mrs. Dalloway authored by Virginia Woolf and published in 1925, describes something distinctly comparable. In the passage from Mrs. Dalloway cited by Setz, a nursemaid speaks to the man who is her patient 'deeply, softly, like a mellow organ, but with a roughness in her voice like a grasshopper's, which rasped his spine deliciously and sent running up into his brain waves of sound'.