This is Maria, a 28-year-old Russian expat in suburban Maryland, starring in a YouTube video that has been viewed more than 7 million times. Hundreds of thousands of Maria’s devotees return again and again to listen to her hushed whispers as she assumes simulated roles — librarian, hairstylist, masseuse — and performs simple motions: folding towels, blowing smoke from an incense burner, flipping through the pages of a magazine.
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 must admit that I had never heard of Bob Ross before I discovered ASMR, and chances are that if you live outside America this will be the case for you too. Technically speaking Bob Ross is simply provides a good combination of many of the other common triggers, but because of his widespread popularity as an ASMR trigger I thought he was worth mentioning on his own. The great thing about being triggered by Bob Ross is that you can buy full length DVDs so you can quickly and easily get some ASMR going from the comfort of your couch.
Some ASMR video creators use binaural recording techniques to simulate the acoustics of a three-dimensional environment, reported to elicit in viewers and listeners the experience of being in close proximity to actor and vocalist. Binaural recordings are usually made using two microphones, just like stereo recordings. However, in binaural recordings the two microphones tend to be more specially designed to mimic ears on humans. In many cases, microphones are separated the same distance as ears are on humans, and microphones are surrounded by ear-shaped cups to get similar reverb as human ears.
There are certain “chillout” music tracks that trigger a pleasant ASMR sensation for me if I listen through headphones. They are likely to be more effective than watching someone folding a towel. One of them is “Summer Love” by Paul Hardcastle. There are some pulsating notes right at the beginning which seem to massage the brain & scalp; and the female singers have a soft gentle sound in their choruses and harmonies. Also try “Deep River” by Lemongrass featuring the Russian keyboard player / vocalist Jane Maximova. It has long notes which undulate warmly, invoking inner visions of beaches and ocean waves. Over these warm sounds, Jane whispers a poem from the point of view a woman who sees herself as a “deep river” for her lover. Her mermaid-like singing and whispers, along with her exotic accent, will surely trigger ASMR, or send you gently to sleep.
I’m glad that it’s at least showing up for you occasionally. It certainly seems to affect people differently and it’s an incredibly strange, though wonderful, phenomenon. I don’t pretend to understand it fully myself, and haven’t done research on it other than to check if it’s harmful, which from what I’ve seen doesn’t seem to be an issue. My reactions seem to have gotten more intense lately, sometimes to the point of having to pause the video for a short while in order to calm it down a bit.
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.
It's also not something that affects everyone. Apparently only part of the population "gets" ASMR, just like not everyone "gets" magic-eye pictures or Beyoncé. It could even be a genetic thing for some, like the people who were born with the crossed wires that make them think cilantro tastes like Comet. The actual science on ASMR is scant, and some neurologists aren't sure that it even exists. Those who do think that the tingling feelings produced by ASMR might be tiny seizures. But for those who do experience ASMR, there's a wealth of material out there to give you a brain boner.
“For me, something about when kids whisper, it’s, oh my god, it’s so relaxing,” says Desireé Hunnicutt, Aoki’s mother, who started watching ASMR videos in 2011. Hunnicutt says she was motivated to create the AMSR Toddler channel in order to help people. “I see comments where people are like, ‘Oh my goodness, I watch every night and it helps me fall asleep,’” she says. “To me that’s perfect, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
I have definitely had this sensation many times from sexual activities, or leading up to them, as foreplay. Also while masturbating from about age 2 and up, instinctively using effleurage upon my own skin, as I comforted myself to help me sleep. I don’t see why anyone would be troubled if this phenomenon is associated with sexuality. It is undoubtedly sensual, and so is sex, so it is natural for there to be some overlap.
Some of the bigger names in the field, such as GentleWhispering, TheOneLillium, ASMRrequests and EphemeralRift go to almost comical lengths to create the right atmosphere in each video. Because expertise and demonstration of knowledge in a field can be triggers in and of themselves, you'll often see ASMR videos for which these guys have put in a lot of prior study and preparation.
While many colloquial and formal terms used and proposed between 2007 and 2010 included reference to orgasm, there was during that time a significant majority objection to its use among those active in online discussions, many of whom have continued to persist in differentiating the euphoric and relaxing nature of ASMR from sexual arousal. However, by 2015, a division had occurred within the ASMR community over the subject of sexual arousal, with some creating videos categorized as ASMRotica (ASMR erotica), which are deliberately designed to be sexually stimulating.