ASMR - Climax of the Mind
A rundown of what ASMR is
By: Omar Amir
Not many people really know what ASMR is but everyone has experienced it on some level at a point in their lives. ASMR is classified as something that causes a pleasurable tingling sensation in various parts of the body in response to certain visual and aural stimuli, much like laughing and joking with your buddies, but a little more intangible. This reaction is something we are all familiar with, but can never really explain.
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is that feeling you get when you hear your footsteps crunch in the loose gravel. It’s the sultry voice of a woman in the video tutorial on how to bake cookies. It’s that one unboxing video where every step is gone through studiously and with expert precision.
So how did ASMR come to be? Only coming to light in 2008 under other names like Attention Induced Head Orgasm, and Attention Induced Euphoria the actual name you see now which stands for ASMR was coined by founder of asmr-research.org, Jenn Allen.
‘Autonomous’ refers to the individualistic nature of the triggers and the capacity to create this sensation at will. ‘Sensory’ and ‘Response’ being how you felt it and how you reacted and ‘Meridian’ was simply a more apt way of saying orgasm. It is this experience that can trigger what is called an “ASMRer”, people who actively seek these sensations as a form of high.
They are the main market of the abundant amount of ASMR content creators that are available online. These videos could be split into two different categories, namely intentional ASMR and unintentional ASMR.
Some examples of intentional ASMR would be, YouTube channels where ASMR content creators will deliberately whisper into the microphone to invoke a good feeling in the listeners. Most of the time, these whisper sessions are based on role-play, but sometimes they’re basically gibberish with the sole purpose of inducing a high for their audience. Other than simply whispering, these content creators have other videos where they eat chips, walk on dried mud and crinkle plastic bags all while exaggerating every single crunch, crinkle and smack of the lips, solely for the purpose of triggering the audience.
As for unintentional ASMR videos, some examples would be how-to tutorials, unboxing videos, and simply anything else that was not purposely made to induce the ASMR effect. One popular ASMR of unintentional persuasion was the popular PBS series, ‘The Joy Of Painting’, which was hosted by the ever so tranquil Bob Ross. His calming voice and gentle nature is hypnotizing as he walks us through his world where anything was possible with an easel, canvas and a spot of paint. Other than ‘The Joy Of Painting’, there are other shows and videos that resound this effect such as, watching people do menial tasks and instructional videos.
As quoted from Dr. Steven Novella, an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, ASMR is described as a “pleasurable and calming tingling sensation in the back of the head”, and is often called a brain orgasm.
There are speculations that this sensation is a culmination of little seizures, triggered by auditory stimuli or it could be our way of responding to pleasure which according to Dr. Novella, is being rewarded with a “pleasurable sensation for doing things and experiencing things that increase
our survival probability, and have a negative or painful experience to make us avoid harmful behavior or warn us about potential danger or injury.”
After coming up with the plausible causes of ASMR, Dr. Novella is still not able to fully explain the sensation.
“This is just another example of how our brains are fantastically complex and weird. How else can you explain the existence of videos of whispering Latin and wrapping paper noise on YouTube?”
With over a hundred thousand subscribers for ASMR on popular online bulletin board reddit, the ASMR community is definitely a growing phenomenon in today’s day and age. With such a bustling community of ASMR content creators and listeners, this simply cannot be a figment of someone’s imagination and should have some substantial scientific evidence to support it. Thing is, there is no actual evidence and ASMR is only understood as one thing, simply a good feeling.
So what is it again? Surely with all these facts, something must explain this tingly pleasure we feel?
Nevertheless, ASMR is still an intangible mystery triggered from the weirdest things from people whispering and crinkling plastic bags to role-play to calculated tutorials and painting landscapes with Bob Ross. It is a mystery of the human mind that is yet to be uncovered and a gateway to pleasure and peace that is very pleasing to both our aural and visual needs.