ASMR: How Brain Tingles Can Heal

BY: CLAIRE KIM

I’ve never been one to fully appreciate the art of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). The unwarranted whispering, perpetual tapping of different surfaces, and uncomfortable eating sounds put me in a position of deep confusion regarding why so many people found ASMR to be so “therapeutic.” In fact, I perceived the tingling sensation to be embracing somewhat of an opposite effect: watching ASMR videos as a means of going to sleep, I often found myself disturbed and distracted more so than relaxed. As of recent, however, I’ve come to see its merit in its own form (though it arguably took a lot of patience).

Perhaps, the biggest reason as to why I struggled to enjoy ASMR at first was not because of a simple dislike but rather because I held up a social prejudice. I convinced myself into believing that listening to ASMR was “weird” and further finding relaxation from it was even more “strange.” In a way, I pushed myself away from ASMR before really exposing myself to its benefits, an attitude that stems from a psychological fear of being a social outlier. Given the social commentary surrounding ASMR, it was close to impossible for me to really sit down and indulge in the art. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago when I found personal time to distance myself from social influences and become exposed to the experience that is ASMR. And though it took several attempts for me to finally see its merits, I can now say that I am one of those youtube viewers that come to ASMR videos on a daily. Evaluating my taste in sound, I have come to really enjoy ASMR that portrays soft tapping sounds with BGM–listening, I feel relaxed and at ease with the music-like rhythms.

A recent ASMR listener, I’ve come to understand that ASMR is often misunderstood. ASMR is not an erotic or sensual form of video content, though there are arguably a lot of videos that go in that direction, it is as its name states: an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s a sensory experience that often alleviates individuals with particular sounds. Just as a great population of people enjoy music for its musicality, a great population of people enjoy ASMR for its musicality just at a slightly different wavelength. In fact, it’s been stated in studies that ASMR can lead to promising mental health results. According to researcher Giulia Poerio from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology, her research has consistently shown that “ASMR videos produce significant reductions in heart rate in people who experience ASMR, so we now have more objective evidence of the idea that ASMR is relaxing. It’s not just people telling us that ASMR makes them feel relaxed. Their physiology is telling us the same thing too.”

While more research is in the works in regards to its direct relation to mental health treatment, it’s worth recognizing the positives of ASMR: a potential opportunity for our mind to heal with brain tingles and/or a space for us to find comfort in a community that feels somewhat relatable.

Rearick, Lauren. “Watching These Videos May Be One Of The Easiest Ways To Reduce Anxiety.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 3 Oct. 2018, http://www.huffpost.com/entry/asmr-mental-health_n_5bb38283e4b0d1ebe0e51e38.

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