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.
ASMR is described as a pleasurable tingling that begins in the head and scalp, shimmies down the spine and relaxes the entire body. Maria — she asked that her last name be withheld for safety reasons; her videos have sometimes attracted unwanted attention — experiences ASMR, and her YouTube channel, GentleWhispering, melds her personal tingle-triggers with others suggested by her fans. The resulting videos have drawn more than 87 million views, making Maria the premier celebrity of a controversial but increasingly recognized phenomenon.
Stronger than audio for stimulating ASMR, though, is touch, Richard said, which is why he envisions touch-mediated virtual ASMR. Picture an ASMR video. But before you watch it, you put on a special shirt and hat. As the video plays, the person on the screen simulates touching you. And you experience it because that shirt and hat are rigged to transmit the touch.
A few weeks ago, Maria says, she was contacted by a young woman whose grandmother was in a hospice. The elderly woman was no longer very responsive, but when the granddaughter played Maria’s videos, “it made her grandmother happy and calmed her down,” Maria says, recalling the woman’s message. “She said, ‘This is so great, because we don’t know how else to help her.’ ”
In the middle of the ASMR spectrum I have all sorts of triggers. A deep male voice reading Holy Scriptures. Definitely not as spiritual a response as the Cantor, but still pleasant, even so. A favorite trigger is good music, either played or sung. Usually it’s a voice that does it for me, more so than instruments. Depending on the type of song, lyrics and the melody/drums, music can trigger a wide range of ASMR types for me. Some are very much at the spiritual end, while others bring back the memory of ASMR events, and the memory itself triggers a mild repeat. Really good foods (eating or even smelling them) can trigger tingles in head and shoulders; while a head, back or foot massage can all be triggers, depending on the skill of the person.
Among the category of intentional ASMR videos that simulate the provision of personal attention is a subcategory of those specifically depicting the "ASMRtist" providing clinical or medical services, including routine general medical examinations. The creators of these videos make no claims to the reality of what is depicted, and the viewer is intended to be aware that they are watching and listening to a simulation, performed by an actor. Nonetheless, many subjects attribute therapeutic outcomes to these and other categories of intentional ASMR videos, and there are voluminous anecdotal reports of their effectiveness in inducing sleep for those susceptible to insomnia, and assuaging a range of symptoms including those associated with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.