Yesterday, I was interviewed about ASMR for an upcoming edition of Newsweek. For someone who is usually on the other end of the interviewing process, it was a little strange to be the one answering questions rather than asking them! The reporter working on the story asked me about my research and my thoughts on the ASMR phenomenon. I explained to him that while I can’t account for what exactly the tingles are…I think ASMR is a conglomeration of other relaxation techniques that have been used for thousands of years and have plenty of scientific evidence to back them up. I can’t say whether or not this blew his mind or not but he seemed genuinely interested to hear someone proclaim that the only thing “new” about ASMR was its name.
Meditation has been practiced in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. Hypnosis goes back for quite some period of time and I certainly remember the Sharper Image and other specialty stores selling all kinds of white noise machines to help people go to sleep. Long before ASMR was called ASMR, I trolled YouTube looking for videos offering guided meditations for sleep, energy, etc…like a lot of other tingle heads and of course I have had those random experiences in real life that triggered the tingles and gave me a little wave of euphoria. So seriously…maybe we should stop calling it a “new” phenomenon and start calling it what it is, a “newly named phenomenon.” But hey…I don’t want to quibble over words.
One of the most interesting things I shared with the reporter was my theory that I believe most people are capable of feeling the ASMR experience even though some people seem to be immune to it. I pointed out that most people can experience a negative version of ASMR when they experience fingernails on a blackboard but some of those same people claim that they cannot feel the more pleasant version of it. That strikes me as odd and suggests that ASMR cannot only go one way. I can’t prove it exactly, but doesn’t it stand to reason that if you can feel the negative version, you should be able to feel the positive version as well.
I told him that I suspect some people experience the ASMR feeling even though they aren’t as aware of it as other people. Recently, I was talking to one of my son’s friends about it who kind of seemed to understand the concept of certain noises or events having a “special effect” on the body. I told him to hold out his forearm and lightly drag his fingers down it. He did and I commented, “feels nice, but doesn’t really do anything to you, does it?” he nodded and then I took my fingers and did it. His eyes lit up like a Christmas tree as the tingles took over. I said “It felt different that time, didn’t it?” he said “I totally felt it inside.” (note: he did not have exterior goose bumps) He later said that he had felt that before, but just never thought about it one way or another. He said sometimes the sensation is stronger and other times it’s not but, his comment prompted me to wonder if there are more people out there who experience it to a certain extent and who do not recognize it as anything particularly unique.
Of course we discussed Bob Ross and his impact on the world of ASMR. I told him that Ross’ show was the “perfect storm” for an ASMR experience and then went on to describe some of the different aspects of the show that seem to trigger people. For the record, while I “can” be triggered by watching Bob Ross, I generally get to wrapped up in the actual painting that I can’t let my mind go and simply succumb to the sensation.
I am really going to be excited to see this article come out and I have to admit, I am getting a big head over my name actually appearing in Newsweek! I’ll keep you posted when the story breaks! Until next time!
Tingle On my friends!