For me it’s tapping, whispering (the closer the better), hair brushing (directly on the mic, not just raking a brush through hair), and hypnosis (even if they’re only attempts or roleplay). Medical or other kinds of roleplay don’t seem to affect me at all and just come off as phony in my mind. It’s the sounds themselves, and their intensity at very close range, that hit me hardest. I don’t really care what’s being said. In fact I get just as much out of asmr in languages I don’t understand. Pretty sure French in and of itself is something of a trigger.
I never realized this sensation had a name, but have been experiencing it from childhood. While studying about kundalini rising, I read the analogy of the thousand petal lotus blossoming on the crown of the head. I thought, ah, I know what that feels like! Sometimes reading letters from friends triggered it. Getting “picked” during a game of 7 Up triggered it. Having someone do the trick of pulling imaginary string from my palm triggered it.
OMG I thought I was alone this whole time (and I am almost 30 years old). I thought I was strange and I thought I just was (and I hate to use this word but I don’t know another one to choose at this moment), attracted to these sounds.. even the Bob Ross one. I have loved the way certain sounds resonate with me ever since I was a very small child. I have purposefully bought movies and kept recorded TV shows on my DVR just so I can replay certain parts with the sounds and people’s voices that have triggered for me. I feel so relieved and happy to know there is a whole community of people just like me. This is actually the first time I have ever told a single person about my feelings on this. I have kept it hidden for years thinking someone would find me strange. I can’t even begin to describe the relief I feel knowing other people experience these triggers and feelings. I am excited to explore this further.
It’s not like it even has to be that good, but if I get sudden understanding where I didn’t used to, it’s instant ASMR. For example, if I listen to a song for a long time in a foreign language, and later on read the lyrics while listening along, I start to understand what the singer is going for, and why they held certain notes longer etc, and that’s a trigger.
On June 3 2018, Makenna Kelly, a 13-year old from Fort Collins, Colorado, uploaded the video that propelled her to internet stardom. Entitled “Eating Raw Honeycomb – EXTREMELY Sticky Mouth Sounds”, it featured the teen chewing fistfuls of pure honeycomb directly in front of a microphone for 16 minutes. In the following months, it was viewed 12 million times. By October, Kelly had reached one million YouTube subscribers.
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.
Anyway, I have no problem sleeping, ever. I usually have a problem getting to bed, because I fall asleep wherever I’m sitting. My big problem is being intimate. If I’m in the middle of business, and I start thinking about my girlfriend’s body touching parts of the right side of my body, I start getting severe tickles and I’ve tossed her to the side because it’s too much for me. It’s one of those things where you tell yourself not to think about it, but it makes you think about it more. My right knee is the worst part. Anyone comes near that knee, not even touching it – they could just sit next to me, and if their leg touches my knee occasionally – I get tickle fits.
In the first peer-reviewed article on ASMR, published in Perspectives in Biology in summer 2013, Nitin Ahuja, who was at the time of publication a medical resident at the University of Virginia, invited conjecture on whether the receipt of simulated medical attention might have some tangible therapeutic value for the recipient, comparing the purported positive outcome of clinical role play ASMR videos with the themes of the novel Love in the Ruins by author and physician Walker Percy, published in 1971.