ASMR(autonomous sensory meridian response) is not a well-known phenomenon, but many people, including myself, claim to experience it on occasion.
What is ASMR? It is a strange, pleasurable tingling sensation that you feel mostly on the back of your head and neck, and sometimes along your spine. It usually happens in response to doing something you find very enjoyable. For some people it accompanies euphoria and is sometimes called a “braingasm” for this reason.
Since it is a very subjective experience, it is very difficult for science to study it. Indeed, this response wasn’t even known at all until many people who claim to experience it congregated over the Internet a few years ago and started websites and message boards devoted to exploring it.
Sometimes juggling brings about ASMR in me, especially if I finally figure out how to do a new trick. In fact, on long joggles I often experience it(it is related to, though not the same thing as “joggler’s high“), especially if I have beautiful music playing in my mind(I never listen to music from an mp3 player or anything during runs). It also helps if I am joggling through rocky, difficult terrain in a wooded area and have gorgeous untamed wilderness full of birdsong all around. It’s like merging into a divine symphony of nature, music, dance, and beauty all interwoven into one.
Music alone can also bring about this response in me, along with reading something inspiring, discovering something new, or a “eureka!” moment when I solve a complex problem. Sometimes finding bizarre links between completely unrelated subjects leads to this response. Certain types of sounds trigger it in many people, and there are even people who produce Youtube videos to help bring about this response in others. It feels sort of like a “bizarre euphoria”.
A good massage, certain aromas, or even exercising may also bring about ASMR. Dr Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale and head of the New England Skeptical Society suggests that ASMR may even be a pleasurable type of seizure:
Looking back as a neurologist I have wondered what they were. They could even have been little seizures. Seizures can be triggered by auditory stimuli. Perhaps ASMR is a type of seizure. Seizures can sometime be pleasurable, and can be triggered by these sorts of things.
You can read the rest of his post about ASMR here. His Neurologica blog is one of the best science blogs out there by the way, and I highly recommend it. As far as it being a type of seizure, I really have no clue, but I suppose it is possible and it vaguely feels like one.
Due to its subjective nature, many experts may even question if this response even exists. We’re all so different, so are all these different people who claim they are experiencing ASMR really experiencing ASMR? Will science figure out what this is all about?
Our peak experiences in life were likely accompanied by ASMR. Has anyone reading this experienced ASMR?