Many people do not know what ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is. Even many people who experience this physiological phenomenon are not aware that there is a term to describe what they are experiencing and they are not the only ones who get it. For myself, I have been experiencing ASMR since I was a small child. Only recently have I discovered that its actually a physiological reaction to stimuli that is shared by many other people. When I discovered what ASMR is it was a huge “OH THATS WHAT THAT IS” moment for me. Something that I’ve always experienced for my entire life but never been able to describe to others is actually a known phenomenon. It actually felt quite validating to know this.
Attempting to describe what ASMR is is exceedingly difficult if you’ve never experienced it before but I will give it a shot. For those who have experienced it themselves, they may relate to what I’m about to describe.
The most common way to describe it is to say that its like a pleasant tingling sensation. It comes in waves throughout your body and can be sometimes pleasurably intense enough to be mildly debilitating. The closest thing I can relate it to is an orgasm, although even making that comparison is quite a stretch. It’s also not a sexual feeling. It feels very relaxing and calming. When it happens you just want to sit still and enjoy the waves of tingling flowing through your body.
The sensation can manifest itself at anytime in reaction to a certain set of triggers. These triggers may sound strange to someone who has never experienced ASMR. They include physical sensations as well as non-physical auditory sensations and I have even read reports of certain visual cues triggering ASMR. The physical sensations that often trigger ASMR for me are massages and haircuts or any sort of meticulous grooming by others. Auditory triggers include hearing someone speak with a certain type of voice and speech pattern. When someone has a very gentle, relaxed, methodical way of speaking it really triggers it hard for me. It may sound strange, but the content that the person is speaking also heavily influences whether I experience ASMR. If the person is slowly, meticulously instructing me on something then that is the biggest trigger. If you’ve ever heard Bob Ross, from the television series The Joy of Painting, do his show then this is a perfect example of what I’m talking about in terms of his way of speaking and way in which he instructs the audience. Another example is that when my grandmother would sit next to me and teach me how to knit, making meticulous maneuvers with her hands, and instructing me in a slow, relaxing, methodical voice it would cause intense ASMR for me. Just thinking about it almost gives me a tinge of it.
ASMR is very under-researched. Not much is known about it in the medical world. If you search the web, it will mostly turn up anecdotal reports and user-driven ASMR groups. I have included links down below for further reading on the subject. If you search on YouTube, you will find numerous videos specifically made to induce the pleasurable feeling of ASMR in those who can experience the sensation.