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ASMR: What Is It And Why Are People Into It?

ASMR occurs in response to certain stimuli and has also been likened to a 'head orgasm'.

23/10/2017 3:30 PM AEDT
Alice Moore / Unsplash
Mmm. The soothing sound of someone eating pickles.

If you haven't yet heard of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), well, things are about to get weird.

Defined as a "calming, pleasurable feeling often accompanied by a tingling sensation", ASMR occurs in response to certain stimuli and has also been likened to a 'head orgasm'.

The stimuli that trigger ASMR vary from person to person, but some of the most common ones are said to include whispers, white noise, lip smacking, tapping on hard surfaces, brushing sounds and even the sound of someone eating. (Surely someone else's worst nightmare, but hey, each to their own.)

The whole point of ASMR is to relax people, and believe it or not, it's big business, especially on the internet.

Head to YouTube and search 'ASMR' and be prepared for an onslaught of videos, usually of women, doing things like running make up brushes over a microphone or even pretending to give you a massage. (Another trigger for ASMR is personal attention, such as when you're at the hairdresser. Hence the popularity of 'haircut' videos.)

Still not convinced? YouTuber ASMR Darling has over a million subscribers, as does Gentle Whispering ASMR. More than five million people have viewed this video of woman eating pickles.

Over 100,000 users subscribe to the ASMR Reddit channel, and W Magazine even has a series of celebrity ASMR interviews featuring the likes of Margot Robbie and Kate Hudson.

In short, it's a thing, though scientifically, we don't really know that much about it.

The first formal study of ASMR was published in 2015 and found, when it comes to triggers, there are four main types.

These were whispering (75 percent), personal attention (69 percent), crisp sounds (64 percent) and slow movements (53 percent).

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state

See the full report here.

In terms of why people seek out ASMR, an overwhelming number (98 percent) of study participants said they used it as an opportunity for relaxation, while 82 percent agreed they used ASMR to help them go to sleep.

Only five percent reported using ASMR media for sexual stimulation.

The study then went on to suggest that, much like meditation and mindfulness, ASMR could improve mood and pain symptoms and may even provide temporary relief for depression.

Whether ASMR will continue to grow and develop as a trend remains to be seen, but authors of the aforementioned study did conclude their research with the suggestion that "ASMR warrants further investigation as a potential therapeutic measure."

Hmmm. Watch this space.

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