What Is ASMR And Why Are People Confusing It With A Fetish?

We have no idea what’s going on but we can’t stop watching.

What you need to know
  • ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response
  • It's essentially creating pleasant sounding noises that give the listener tingles and goosebumps
  • There is a growing community of online 'ASMR Artists' who earn a living making soothing noises to create the tingling feeling

Have you ever felt yourself melting into the chair at the hairdresser as your stylist massages in the conditioner? Or found yourself playing with a piece of bubble wrap, almost addicted to the noise of those glorious little bubbles popping?

Well, there is a term for that -- ASMR. It stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.

It’s essentially that static-like feeling that starts at the base of your neck, runs down your spine and feels gooooooooooood.

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It can be triggered from hearing certain sounds or by certain nerves being touched. Thousands of nerves end on your scalp, which explains why that head massage feels so good.

Not everyone experiences ASMR and most people only respond to certain sounds -- it really depends on your tastes, so of course the internet has provided something to cater for everyone.

On YouTube there is a growing community of ‘ASMR Artists’ creating videos to make their audience tingle, induce goosebumps and essentially bliss out.

Some are simple noises such as flipping pages of a book or brushing hair, while the more elaborate videos contain role-playing haircuts, medical appointments, even alien abductions.

YouTuber Amy produces ASMR videos under the user name Bluewhisper. She has over 30 million views on her videos and describes ASMR as "a relaxing, trance-like tingling or buzzing feeling in the brain."

"It's triggered by relaxing sounds or visual stimuli," she said.

ASMR Video Of Woman Role Playing Massage

If it all sounds a little strange, just imagine the feeling of relaxation that washes over you when you hear waves crashing on the beach and you may understand why there is a community of ASMR-sensitive people chasing their next rush of tingles.

ASMR is a rather new concept in the medical community and while the benefits can’t exactly be proven, ASMR addicts say is helps them with a various of everyday mild stresses.

"People who watch my videos tell me it helps them with their anxiety, depression, and insomnia," Amy told 10 daily.

A study by McGill University found that listening to music releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter in the brain that's important for pleasure, and is associated with 'rewards' like food and sex. Perhaps ASMR generates the same effect.

Amy's most popular videos are where she gives ‘personal attention’ to her audience through role play that includes medical exams, hair washing and playing with objects to make spine-tingling sounds.

What Is ASMR?

Due to the intense pleasure some people feel listening to ASMR, the internet can sometimes confuse it as sexual and it has been labelled as a 'whisper fetish'.

Amy insists that's not the purpose of her videos.

"I think anything in the world can be sexualised in some way but I would like people to understand that ASMR is not a sexual sensation," she said.

"A lot of people don't understand what ASMR is when I explain it to them, so I usually tell them it's a bit similar to guided meditations, rain or ocean wave sounds people also use to fall asleep. People understand the nature of the videos more when I make that association," she said.

The only downside to ASMR appears to be that some people suffer from too much ASMR exposure and can lose their tingles over time.

But fear not. The ASMR artists on YouTube say to get your tingles back, you need to refrain from watching videos for a few weeks and then slowly introduce them back into your daily life.

It seems there can be too much of a good thing.

Feature Image: Getty