Thought Catalog

I Have ASMR, Do You?

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What exactly is ASMR? We should probably start there, though that often proves the hardest thing to address. See, before the internet and the ensuing ability to collect amongst ourselves in warm, huddled circles, talking about the weird things that we like or that happen to us — we didn’t know ASMR was a thing. Only now, through our collective experience and back-and-forth about terminology have we settled upon a name, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR. And what is that? Well, it’s essentially a tingling, buzzing, warm, relaxing sensation that runs through your brain and all over your body when triggered by a certain stimulus. For some people, it ends in sleep. For others, it results in a sort of meditative state, where your whole body is buzzing for a prolonged period of time, wave after wave of tingles coming over you. In short, we sometimes call them “orgasms for your brain.”

But they are not orgasms. In fact, to confuse ASMR with something even remotely sexual ruins the entire experience. If someone were to touch you, or say something sexual, or even make sexual implications during an ASMR session, it would jerk you out of your trance completely. Yet, as with most things on the internet, if left to his or her own devices — the uninitiated passerby would assume that ASMR was sexual. And why? Well, notably, the stimuli. To an onlooker, they probably look quite strange.

Most ASMR-ers vary in what triggers them the most, but generally speaking soft, somewhat repetitive, well-defined noises work best. Everything from whispering, to drawing on a piece of paper, to wrapping a present, to playing with jewelry, to eating a cookie, to Bob Ross is considered a normal trigger. You can find hundreds, thousands of videos under the ASMR tag which cater to every type and combination of sound and image that combine to make the perfect ASMR experience. Personally, one of my favorites is watching someone draw an intricate drawing, perhaps while they whisper about nonsense — but there are so many different kinds to try, it would be a shame not to explore them all.

But let’s be honest — it’s kind of weird. Most ASMR-ers are in the closet about this, because how in the world would you interject it into a conversation? And frankly, if someone were to find a bookmark folder of nothing but people wrapping presents and crinkling packages, you’d probably think they had the world’s strangest fetish, and that they got booked for indecent exposure at the post office some time in their life. It just seems odd. But the community has slowly been coming out amongst ourselves, sharing good videos and talking about the scientific explanation behind the phenomenon. We also discuss how we discovered our ASMR, and those often prove to be the most fascinating stories.

When I was a little girl, I remember always liking when a kid across from me in class would doodle on his paper. I would watch the pencil scratch back-and-forth across the page and fall into a trance so deep, I would often completely forget about what we were doing in class. I remember if the teacher would read a book softly to the class, every time she turned the corner of the page (with that sort of squeaky, glossy-page-against-fingers sound), I would again fall into an almost dream-like state. I thought, at the time, that there must be something wrong with me. I always felt so weird, and that if I told other kids, they would make fun of me. There was something comforting about finding out that for everyone else with ASMR, this was a pitch-perfect description of their childhood, and they experienced similar feelings of confusion and shame.

I often wonder how many people have ASMR, they just haven’t found the right trigger yet. It truly is an experience I wish everyone could have. Though it is not sexual, there is a similar amount of natural high involved, a feeling of being transported and taken under by your own brain power. At the end of a long, stressful day, to sit back and be almost immediately brought into a calm, buzzing, meditative state is something I am so grateful to have. The instant washing away of whatever concern or hang-up was plaguing you, and the simple, calming, reassuring warmth — it almost makes you feel like a child. There is something akin to being a very young child and having a parent rock you back and forth, “shh” in your ear, or rub your scalp. It is a feeling that small pleasures can be powerful, and that we don’t need much to make us happy. It’s joy in its most pure form, and I’m not embarrassed to say it happens to me.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be watching videos of people playing with grains of rice. TC mark

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More From Thought Catalog

  • http://twitter.com/emilcDC Emil Caillaux

    I have NEVER heard of this before, but it would explain a lot. 

  • http://fastfoodies.org Briana

    Me too, mang! For me, it’s certain people’s voices (though I never tell them ’cause that’d be weird), certain people chewing (doubly weird) and trickling water. Though it only seems to happen in real life – sound effects or videos never quite do it.

  • Guest

    For a while I thought this was a huge joke? Is this a joke? :(

    • Internetstranger

      Nope, this is real as hell.

    • Sara

      Nope, I already did research about this. I get the feelings as well

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    a concentrated day dream? what? i black out sometimes

  • Rosebud

    Oh wow. I totally have this and had no idea. Soft voices are big with me, or just certain voices trigger it and I get this amazing fuzzy feeling and want to fall into 1,000 pillows forever.

    • yahoo.com

      Yup, thats it! 1000 pillows! : )

  • Aaron

    wtf? 

  • Elle

    I have this but I had no idea it was a “condition”. 

    • Nishant

      Exactly! Me too! 

    • http://gravatar.com/ryukochan ryukochan

      I don’t think t’s a “condition” any more than having really good eyesight or a memory for faces is a condition – it’s a thing some of us have that lets us enjoy a bit of the world in a different way than everyone else :)

      • Carlo

        That’s a nice way to view it. I like it :)

  • Br

    YES to the book/page turning thing. Wow I had no idea this was actually a condition. And I totally still have it now with soft voices.  Right on for not making me think I was CRAY

  • Ariel

    YES. they really help me fall asleep when my mind is racing and i’m anxious/stressed. its crazy, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of youtube videos. 

  • Domino

    OMG WHEN PEOPLE TOUCH MY HAIR 

    • Melissa

      oh okay i think i get it now.

  • Melissa

    ……WHAT?

  • http://twitter.com/veebloom vee bloom

    I have had this since I was a kid, and I didn’t know what to call it. People talking to me on the phone, specifically sales calls or surveys. Something about the tone of voice etc. Every time. It is the only reason I pick up those calls and stay on the line. 

    • yahoo.com

      YES! Me toooooo! I was just telling my girlfriend this. YOu are not alone!

  • http://twitter.com/R3P3T3 PS

    I waste so much time watching unboxing videos on YouTube and Vimeo because of this. Something about iPhones being taken out of their packaging is just so gentle, so soothing… (probably as Jobs intended)

  • Lilyelizabeth01

    i watched the video and it made the inside of my head itch

    • Lucas

      Made me kind of tense / nauseous / itchy. Is there such a thing as reverse ASMR?

  • Caroline

    Uhhh, judging from the comments, everyone has this?  I think y’all might not get it…

    • Veronica

      Maybe it’s just that the people who have it are the ones compelled to leave a comment?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=636931586 Stefano Perfili

    Yeah, I get it with music sometimes. Fairly rare moments, but it definitely happens.

  • Mystorymusic Int

    Love it! Awesome read! Many kudos to the Author. 

  • Guestropod

    I have misophonia which is like the opposite of this where sounds make me want to murder people

    • Kmc407

      So do I. It’s horrible.

      • Melissa

        staying away from you guys.

    • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

      crap..me too i think.
      i know this person that scratches their hand or flicks their nails and i seriously become silently enraged. like i cannot stand the sound.

    • strangeone

      I have misophonia too. My triggers are listening to my brothers chew and anyone in my whole family snore. Oddly enough, it is only my family that trigger my misophonia. Stranger still, sometimes when I hear the sounds of other people chewing it elicts an ASMR response!!! I do have very intense ASMR towards other sounds as well; soft spoken people, unwrapping hard candy, and page turning are all things that make me tingle. I am so weird.

  • http://twitter.com/daniellemay9 Danielle Steinman

    This sounds really cool, but I’m still a little confused. Is this like a condition that only appears for some people, or is it more like an intense form of meditation?

  • noreallywhat?

    Elaborate time wasting? 

    • Asmrlover

      no, it’s a buzzing feeling in your head/neck/spine. Personally, it sometimes alters my vision if the feeling is strong enough. Not the same as day dreaming.

  • http://profiles.google.com/d.oliver272 D. Oliver

    Wait. Doesn’t this happen to everyone? It’s not a condition. It’s just… what happens. 

    • Guestalot

      It’s not a condition, there’s no medical/psychological definition for this.  I have no idea what this article is even about.

      • Anon

        Agreed.

    • Guest

      yeah sounds like these people have simply never heard the term “zoning out.”

      • Anonymous

         ASMR is different from zoning out. During ASMR, one experiences this pleasurable tingling sensation in the back of their head (and spreads depending on the person and intensity of the trigger) that causes them to fall into this trance-like state. “Zoning out” does not have this tingling effect.

      • Guest

        I had know idea there was a name for this!  I get a tingle up the side of my neck, love that feeling.

      • beatrice

        yes but doesn’t this happen to everyone when they’re enjoying their favourite type of art? I mean uhh.. I didnt even know there was a term for this. I just thought it was as simple and ubiquitous as say..satisfying your hunger. 

      • Anonymous

        No, it doesn’t. You may be mixing up ASMR with “the shivers” or something. I’ve talked to other people about ASMR before and they had no idea what I was talking about and never experienced it.

      • http://brightumbra.wordpress.com/ BrightUmbra

        I’ve got several friends who’ve expressed jealousy after hearing me describe this – so yeah, I (and they) can attest to the fact that not everyone feels this way. =)

      • Dekkuder

        it’s much more than zoning out. i dont get lost in my daydreams when this happens. an amazing feeling comes over my whole body and i just lie there trying to hold onto it before it goes away.

  • http://artfeedsmia.blogspot.com/ mia nguyen

    This article is cool for people who didn’t know about it. Boring for those of us who already knew it existed.

  • http://brightumbra.wordpress.com/ BrightUmbra

    Thank you for this post – thinking about, reading about, or witnessing other peoples’ ASMR episodes triggers them in me =)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Lauren-Schwendimann/749917593 Jessica Lauren Schwendimann

    I feel like something in my mind just clicked. 

  • Ted Pillow

    This is really interesting Chelsea, and it made me strangely jealous because I don’t think I’ve ever had the experience.

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