Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

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So, for those of you who have never heard of it, ASMR — or autonomous sensory meridian response — is… well, kind of awesome. I’d be willing to bet that there’s lots of you who have experienced this before and just didn’t know what it was, or that it had a name (and its own Wikipedia page!).

There’s very little scientific explanation for it — for why it happens, what exactly is happening in the brain to cause such a pleasurable feeling, or why some people experience it and some don’t. It’s also referred to as “brain tingles”, “head tingles”, or “brain orgasms”, though many people within the ASMR community dislike this term because of the sexual connotation it has (the “brain tingles” one feels during ASMR are not sexual in nature at all).

The only way to explain the feeling is an intensely relaxing tingling sensation starting in the head and sometimes radiating down the neck and into the arms. Everyone has different triggers and many of them are auditory — whispering or other soft talking, tapping, scratching, foreign accents or speaking in a foreign language, and water sounds (dripping, pouring, etc). There are tons of videos on YouTube that cater to people who experience ASMR and include various role playing videos, many of which are people describing or acting out a visit to a spa, hair dresser, dentist’s office, etc. There’s also physical stimulation that can cause ASMR, most commonly having your hair combed, braided, or otherwise touched (I LOVE having my hair washed at the hairdresser for this very reason).

The first time I realized ASMR was a thing was while listening to This American Life. There’s an episode from March 2013 called “Tribes” where novelist Andrea Seigel talked about her experiences with it (and her boyfriend’s lack of ability to relate).

For many people it’s a great reliever for insomnia as well as relief from anxiety and panic attacks. I personally have soothed myself out of several panic attacks and generally anxious times by watching or listening to some of these videos on YouTube. It brings on a sense of relaxation that can’t really be matched by anything else.

Do any of you experience ASMR? What are your favorite triggers?

2 thoughts on “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

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