There are many aspects of the human brain and body that we do not fully understand. The human brain is the most complicated organ/machine/computer that we know of, and our understanding of it has grown over the years. Despite this, there are many aspects of human neurology that we don’t understand, and many phenomena that have yet to be studied. One such phenomenon that has gained increasing attention over the past couple of years is what is known as the “autonomous sensory meridian response” or ASMR.
ASMR esentially refers to the tingling sensation some people experience when they hear certain sounds or feel certain sensations. Some people who experience ASMR describe it as “brain tingles”, “spine tingles” or “whisper orgasms” (due to the fact that whispering is a common trigger for ASMR). I have had several instances in therapy when I have explained ASMR to clients and it was a real “Aha! moment” for them. Many people describe the experience of having had these sensations their whole lives and thinking it was something unique to them. ASMR is a very modern topic in the sense that it may not have ever been discovered or identified if it were not for youtube and the ability for people to communicate with each other on the large scale convenience afforded to us by the internet.
I personally do not experience ASMR, but my wife does and she seems to think it’s a huge shame that I don’t. The closest thing I can relate to is the feeling I (and it seems most people) get when they use one of those multi-pronged head scratcher/massagers.
To date there has been little research published regarding ASMR. Some have suggested that it may be a form of synesthesia: when two senses overlap and trigger each other. Others have suggested that it may be similar or related to misophonia: when certain sounds trigger strong negative emotions like rage in a person. As far as positive benefits go, many people who experience ASMR say that the experience provides them with relief from anxiety, depression, and/or helps them relax. Some people have suggested that ASMR may also be related to the experience of “flow”: the feeling of being completely immersed in something, often associated with a feeling of intense focus or being “in the zone”.
If you are interested in finding out more about ASMR or experimenting to see if you might be able to experience it, just type ASMR into youtube. There are THOUSANDS of videos designed to trigger it.
…This blog post doesn’t have much to do with therapy, I just think it’s an interesting topic and have found that several people I have worked with experience ASMR, and so I thought it would be good to have something to refer people to when the subject comes up in counseling.