19 March 2012

That Unnamed Feeling...ASMR

For a long time, I thought I was the only person who got tingles down the back of the neck and shots of it through the body if someone flipped through a magazine. The same happens if hair is being groomed and fixed. Lord help us if it's mine, I would dissolve.
Once a friend of mine was flipping through a fashion magazine. She became uncomfortable and was shooting me weird looks. Eventually she stopped and asked why my eyes half-closed and I stared at her hands so fixedly.
I couldn't explain what was happening to me, and I can only guess at what went through her head.
Now I know I'm not a freak of nature, there are others who experience ASMR, there are even YouTube channels dedicated to it.

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Don’t let the big jargony name fool you, I was told the other day it's an informal and non-scientific term. It refers to the tingling sensation triggered by watching or listening to particular events or activities. The tingling sensation differs from the one triggered by fear; ASMR has a definite relaxing edge to it. It was called at one stage AIHO, which stands for Attention Induced Head Orgasm; that on its own should explain part of the feeling. I'm aware of one more term for it: WHS which stands for Weird Head Sensation.
It's like those round globes with rays of light if you touch them, the Plasma Globes or balls. Picture those rays shooting out of your head and neck to different parts of your body, bringing on a sensation that will leave you caught in the moment. Your eyes or ears won't be able to release whatever causes the feeling.
Plasma ball cosmocurio
From what I watched on YouTube, there are different triggers; like listening to a foreign language or a whispering, having your or someone else's hair being massaged, tapping of nails on wood or hard surfaces, flipping of pages, watching someone perform an activity like gardening or painting or drawing. Even watching someone hand-write can trigger it. The other day I was watching an episode of Tales of the Unexpected and a woman touched a small arrangement of flowers gently, just in passing. Man, did I melt!
These are examples of many more. Mine are: 
  • Playing with or grooming my hair or someone else's.
  • Listening to someone hum while delicately performing an activity. This one varies.
  • Flipping through a magazine.
Unfortunately, if I'm the one flipping the pages, playing with my hair, or humming, it doesn't work. For these triggers to work for me, someone else must perform them naturally. In other words, a person should not be doing them slowly or gently on purpose to cause ASMR; it should be a natural process. Does that make sense? Some videos on YouTube accomplish that, others come across as forced or fake.
Sadly, every good feeling comes to an end, and with that ending some people reported headache, numbness, or irritation.
I must admit though, I never experienced any of these negative feelings after a good ASMR session. Well, perhaps only an irritation that it's over.

I'll leave you now with a sample video of turning pages, it's by Visual Sounds1 on YouTube:

So, have you ever experienced ASMR? If yes, what are your triggers?

 Image attribution: By Cosmocurio (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons