For outsiders, ASMR has always been weird. “One thing that’s interesting about the ASMR experience is that it’s about close personal attention,” says Giulia Poerio, a psychology professor at the University of Sheffield who has undertaken multiple ASMR studies. Role-play videos thrive in the ASMR community – online, you can watch someone pretend to be your dentist, masseuse, or even a receptionist checking you into a hotel. “They’re basically a simulation of what would happen if you got ASMR in real life,” Poerio explains. “Multiple triggers are layered to get an effect.”
"Seven years later, ASMR is having a pop culture moment—even if many of those who use it don’t know what the acronym stands for. The phenomenon’s most popular practitioners have more than half a million subscribers, and the doyenne of ASMRrtists, Maria of Gentle Whispering ASMR, has been so successful that she’s been able to quit her job to role-play soothing cosmetologists, librarians and flight attendants full-time. But what is ASMR? What function does it serve, who is drawn to it, and why? Or, as researcher Craig Richard puts it: 'Why are millions of people watching someone fold a napkin?'
Can ASMR be triggered by a completely internal stimulus? I get this tingling in my scalp and cheeks, then like a wave of warm fuzzy that washes through my body. It sounds very similar to what ASMR is described as, but it happens to me when I daydream about certain things. It happened to me more as a child than as an adult, in fact it has probably been several years since I had an experience until today, which led to me googling it. My trigger is visualizing/ daydreaming about somewhat exciting things gone perfect, a perfect lap on the motocross track, flying high G maneuvers, and most recently navigating my sailboat through some rough waters. I hate to admit to this because I don’t want to sound egotistical, but it doesn’t seem to be the subject of the daydream that brings about the ASMR like experience, but the thought of someone giving me recognition for my accomplishment that actually triggers it. Also, once I’ve had a response from a daydream about a particular experience, I can’t simply revisit the same daydream and have it trigger another experience. I’m 40, and have always experienced this, but I never knew how to explain it or if it were normal or not, so I’ve never even tried talking about this before.
If you don't like any of these, there are lots of other options. The top YouTube “ASMRtists,” like ASMR Darling and Gibi ASMR, have over a million subscribers and hundreds of videos each. You can also explore “unintentional ASMR:” content not created with tingles in mind, but that just so happens to promote them. (Painter Bob Ross has a cult ASMR following).
What I want to discuss with the ASMR community is misophonia. In short, misophonia is a selective sound sensitivity syndrome involving strong dislike or hatred for certain sounds. While I gain pleasure and comfort from many sounds there are other sounds that stimulate frustration and anger. I used to become enraged at the dinner table growing up when hearing family members chew food. I have learned to manage the responses but there are quite a few triggers which lead to the anger.
“We found that people who experience ASMR showed significant reductions in their heart rates compared to non-ASMR participants,” Poerio explains, “These reductions are comparable to other stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness and music therapy.” Poerio says this finding is crucial because reduced heart rates prove people who enjoy ASMR are not sexually aroused.
ASMR is usually precipitated by stimuli referred to as 'triggers'. ASMR triggers, which are most commonly auditory and visual, may be encountered through the interpersonal interactions of daily life. Additionally, ASMR is often triggered by exposure to specific audio and video. Such media may be specially made with the specific purpose of triggering ASMR or originally created for other purposes and later discovered to be effective as a trigger of the experience.