What is ASMR & Why Do People Like It?


What is ASMR? 

What exactly is “ASMR”? The Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, more commonly known as ASMR, is said to be a “phenomenon” in which individuals report experiencing tingling in their scalp. This takes place when certain “triggers” such as quiet noises are heard (e.g. scratching, whispering, personal attention, etc.)

When Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting was the first broadcast, many were at a loss for words to describe what they were feeling. They were aware that watching Ross’ program put them to sleep and gave them a sense of tranquility and relaxation. Nobody could figure out the reason why. Why did Mr. Ross’s paintings have smooth, delicate brush strokes that helped people fall asleep in the late 1980s and early 1990s?

Even though I tried to figure out why I was experiencing this peculiar tingling feeling, I was unable. After coming upon one of AppreciateASMR’s films, I for some reason drifted off into a restful, deep sleep without being able to explain why. In point of fact, I had no idea what I was seeing at any point. Even with headphones on, I was unable to pick up her voice. However, as I put my headphones on, I was aware of a tingling feeling, and the rest is history.

The Science Behind ASMR

The “whispering phenomena” is something that the scientific community does not fully understand yet. In recent years, there has been a growing trend toward the production of films as well as academic research centered on the issue. None of them have produced any convincing findings. Since I’ve been a member of this community, the entry for it on Wikipedia has seen significant development and growth. Are you still confused about what ASMR is?

People have written papers in scientific publications discussing their discoveries. Only one thing is left:  “there are no scientific data nor any clinic trials from which to deduce evidence that might support or refute any clinical benefits or dangers of ASMR, with claims to therapeutic efficacy remaining based on voluminous personal anecdotal accounts by those who attribute the positive effect on anxiety, depression, and insomnia to ASMR video media” (Wikipedia).

There are certain things, however, about which we can be quite confident. People have reported, for instance, that after experiencing ASMR they feel calm and experience a tingling feeling. However, not everyone is able to experience ASMR. Why shouldn’t they? We’re not sure yet.

The Guardian wrote an article about these “head orgasms.”  It attempted to find science-backed answers to these questions. They interviewed graduate student Emma Barratt and lecturer Nick Davis from Swansea University and asked some of the popular questions that ASMR raises through a survey of 500 ASMR enthusiasts.  Here are some that instantly come to mind:

Is ASMR sexual?

“Only five percent of individuals reported using ASMR material for the purpose of sexual gratification, which runs as opposed to a widespread assumption of the videos that can be accessed online. “There are a lot of individuals who grasp onto certain films containing beautiful women and discount what we discovered to be a really complex activity as being simply sexual. We observed that this happens very often.” According to Barratt, “our results will hopefully disprove that perception.” “The fact that a large number of individuals are activated by whispering voices shows that the experience is associated with being acquainted with someone in a manner that is not sexual in nature.” ‘ASMR is basically about feeling relaxed or vulnerable with another person,’ says Davis. Very few individuals have indicated that a sexual purpose was behind their experience with ASMR.

Why is ASMR popular all of a sudden?

According to the findings presented by Barrat, the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response was disregarded since it was not experienced by a sizeable portion of the population.

Does ASMR help with depression, anxiety and insomnia?

“…Their data showed that, for people who scored as having moderate to severe depression, 69% reported using ASMR videos to help ease their symptoms, and generally reported a greater improvement in mood than individuals who were not depressed. But these are self-report measures, and further work needs to be done to pinpoint to what extent there may be an actual therapeutic effect.”

Misconceptions of ASMR

I’ve told you about the terrible thing that happened to me in real life when I was using my “whispering channel.” I have a video in which I discuss the responses that I received to my films from individuals in my personal life as well as from my classmates at my institution. To put it another way, people found me and my films repugnant, and as a result, they criticized me and made fun of me. My classmates perceived it as porn and odd. They considered my films to be both sexual and odd in nature. They could not get it at all.

In an article, Maria, also known as GentleWhispering, said that the majority of ASMRtists do not produce their material with the intention of being sexual, despite the fact that some individuals may interpret ASMR as being sexual. She defined the occurrence as “sensual” since it is a close, intimate sensation. That has always been one of my favorite descriptions, and I think she nailed it!

In spite of the fact that prominent ASMRtists have made concerted attempts to lessen the phenomenon’s association with sexuality, a subtype known as “erotic ASMR” has emerged in recent years. In my opinion, this reveals more about the state of our society than it does the phenomena that are being discussed. These days, people find a sexual connotation in almost everything.

ASMR Today

The community that exists on YouTube is seeing rapid expansion. There are a variety of new trends, ranging from ear-eating to rude ASMR roleplays, and everything in between. I count myself very fortunate to have been able to see its development over the course of the years as well as the increased visibility of the community. Despite the fact that it is often misconstrued and given the wrong impression, I have received hundreds of e-mails, comments, and messages from individuals who will tell you the following:

it works!

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