ASMR: Pleasure and Relaxation for Certain Lucky Ones

ASMR is a psychophysiological phenomenon that produces pleasant sensations of relaxation and calm in the people who experience it.

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When I was a child, there were many occasions when certain actions that some people carried out in front of me, accompanied by particular sounds and a certain repetitiveness, remained motionless-almost in a trance.

In that scenario, the only thing I could experience was a pleasant tingling sensation that sprang from my head, but that I totally did not know. The truth is that I liked to experience it. Over time, I discovered that this phenomenon was known as ASMR (Autonomous Sensoy Meridian Response), autonomous meridian sensory response or cerebral orgasm. Let’s deepen.

The great interest in the ASMR

At that time, I thought that what I experienced was a property only mine, as ineffable as irresistible. In fact, when I asked my classmates “And do not you get stuck and give you a” little treat “in your head sometimes?”, More than one mockery took me. Therefore, I decided to keep a rarity to which it was impossible to refuse.

Nowadays, and in part, thanks to the capacity of diffusion and interconnectivity that social networks bring with them, this psychophysiological phenomenon -which, to my surprise and relief, has ceased to be of my exclusivity- has been coined as ASMR or cerebral orgasm.

His discovery has awakened a large number of research lines and an unpredictable public interest. There are more people hunting for information about the ASMR, despite not knowing its causal bases. And there is nothing like finding others with whom to share something in common, be it a characteristic, activity or simply a certain interest in a particular subject.

As an example of this growing interest we have the large number of YouTube videos about ASMR, hashtags, blog posts, articles, associations, podcasts, news in prey and media and even academic research. As we see, what we commonly know as cerebral orgasm is an indisputable reality has the same potential for pleasure as for the treatment of anxiety, the evil of our century.

Thus, according to the research carried out, the ASMR is an intrinsic property of the brain of many people-not of all-who find in it a simple and even therapeutic way to relax and experience pleasurable bodily sensations.

“ASMR is similar to the deep relaxation a person can experience when receiving a massage.”

-Prof. Craig Richard, Shenandoha University (Virginia) –

ASMR: origin and meaning

ASMR is the Anglo-Saxon acronym used to designate the autonomic sensory response meridiana (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, in its original name).

This response is elicited, above all, by very specific visual or auditory stimuli. Even the intentional reception of attention provided by another person can also function as a trigger, although in a less common way.

On the other hand, analyzing one by one the components of the acronym we come to the basic defining factors of this phenomenon:

  • Autonomous. Spontaneous, free acting, with or without control on our part.
  • Sensory. Phenomenon relative to the senses, to the sensorially perceived.
  • Meridian. It refers to a climax at the point of maximum reach.
  • Answer. It refers to an experience triggered by an internal or external agent.

Let’s start by distinguishing sexual pleasure from this type of pleasure, which more than one describes as “a tingling that originates in the neck and down the body or as a tickle wave that emerges and descends pulsatile, every time a trigger It has its effect. “

Thus, in an article published in the prestigious The New Yorker, we find an even more descriptive definition: “[The ASMR] arises from the reassuring sound of a whispering voice or the soft touch of clothes; it is then when a tingling sensation is born in the scalp and extends down the neck, shoulders and arms, accompanied by a deep state of calm, or even euphoria. “

Both pleasures (the sexual and the derivative of the ASMR) are different, both in their nature (structures and physiological processes involved), final result (the ASMR does not culminate in a real orgasm), and in its purpose (through the ASMR is not pursued the satisfaction of a sexual drive). In fact, it has been proven that sexual activation and activation by ASMR are, in general, mutually exclusive.

Some ASMR examples

For those who have never experienced the ASMR, it is difficult to understand what it is. Therefore, we list some examples below.

From a perceptive-sensory perspective, some describe the resulting sensation as something similar to a “mild electric current” that is pleasant and relaxing.

Although in my case, the definition that I find more accurate would be “the similar experience to be found among the bubbles of a champagne glass”. Of course, once the ASMR has been fired, one would wish never to leave that state of sweet numbness.

On the other hand, some examples of factors that may trigger this response are the following:

  • Listen to whispers or a voice that speaks softly.
  • Listen to light and repetitive sounds resulting from the performance of common tasks of daily life, such as turning the pages of a book.
  • Carefully observe someone perform a mundane task.
  • Receive personalized and careful attention.
  • Witness a loud chewing act, watch the food being bitten or drink a liquid, always loudly.
  • To hear sounds of tapping and, in particular, of nails crashing against surfaces such as plastic, wood and metal.

Clinical applications of the ASMR

The use of the ASMR induction technique is not recognized by any official body as a valid therapeutic measure; therefore, it can not be recommended as a substitute for any therapeutic approach.

However, more and more people are using ASMR-based approaches to treat specific problems related to the anxious spectrum (generalized anxiety, panic attacks, concentration difficulties, ruminative thinking or difficulties falling asleep, among others).

In this line, the therapeutic effect of ASMR would resemble in form and action the one obtained from extended techniques such as meditation, yoga or mindfulness. In fact, as has happened with the aforementioned practices, the academic world has already confirmed the credible benefit of the ASMR in terms of physical and mental health.

According to scientific findings, several parameters are determinants of a psychophysiological state of relaxation and well-being that are positively impacted thanks to the work with ASMR. As examples: blood pressure, endorphin release or heart rate.

Possible explanations

There are few objective and replicable data that testify to the origin and operating mechanisms of this phenomenon. Of course, a statistical relationship has been found between people susceptible to ASMR and the probability of suffering from misophonia (the annoyance of certain noises, especially those caused by people). Therefore, it is thought that a genetic basis may exist for the ASMR.

In studies in which functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been used, it has been observed that in those subjects who claimed to experience the “tickling” of the ASMR, the brain areas associated with social grooming or interpersonal approximation behaviors (medial cortex) prefrontal) and with sensations of touch (secondary somatosensory cortex) presented an unusual degree of activation. In addition, this activation was much higher than that presented in control subjects or in moments of absence of ASMR.

The truth is that all those who have the fortune of being able to enjoy this mechanism so natural, simple, innate and controllable we do not tend to ask ourselves in excess what is the origin or functionality of this phenomenon. To taste is how you feel and that’s what counts.