ASMR stands for Autonomous sensory meridian response or “mind-gasms”. To simply put it, remember the last time someone whispered into your ear and you felt the tingling sensation at the back of your head and neck? ASMR is exactly this response and is supposed to create waves of euphoria and calm throughout your body as a result of the sound.
Not everybody knows what ASMR feels like, but that could be because we all have different triggers. However, for those who can actually feel it, many report tremendous results in helping them with stress, anxiety, and insomnia. ASMR videos are especially popular on Youtube with a single video getting as many as 40M views and ever since the trend started more than 11M ASMR videos have been published. So is ASMR just a fad or does it actually help?
While very little scientific research has been conducted into the evolutionary history and potential neurological benefits of this phenomenon there is only anecdotal literature comprising of commentary, forums, blogs, and Youtube comments. Nonetheless, there are some scientific papers that have come out to explain the effect.
Data obtained illustrates temporary improvements in symptoms of depression and chronic pain in those who engage in ASMR. A high prevalence of synaesthesia (5.9%) within the sample suggests a possible link between ASMR and synaesthesia…. Links between number of effective triggers and heightened flow state suggest that flow may be necessary to achieve sensations associated with ASMR. [Barrat, 2015]
As you can tell, we are still in the early stages of exploring the causes of this effect. Some users although report early signs have also reported reduced responses over time to ASMR triggers. However for those who have found the right triggers report that ASMR is the best drug to alleviate stress, insomnia, and anxiety. It is cheap, easily accessible and has no side effects. Not sure if this trend is going to continue but the popularity of ASMR has definitely disrupted both the mental health and mindfulness industries which leaves us to wonder what other self-healing techniques there are that we are not aware of yet.