In the movie The Sound of Music, the nuns of the abbey contemplate what to do with a problematic postulate in the song, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” The lyrics compare taming the young woman to a variety of impossible tasks such as trying to catch a cloud and pinning it down, or attempting to keep a wave upon the sand,. However, those same words could easily be used to describe what it was like to try and write about the ASMR phenomenon.
ASMR is a feeling. It is real, but intangible. It affects a diverse group of people all over the world through a wide variety of audio, visual and tactile triggers in real time and through suggestion. It has been described as brain tingles, a brain buzz, a braingasm (but we’ll hold off on that term for another post), sparks, shocks, etc.…but somehow, it has escaped scientific inquiry until recently and at the present time, any research which has been done has not been published.
The reason for this may confuse a lot of ASMR experiencers who wonder what is taking so long, so let me explain. When someone decides to conduct a scientific study, they must first seek permission from an academic board of some kind. The researcher outlines the problem that they have identified, shows past studies into the same field (or comparative fields) and shows the board the processes they plan to follow in their own work. The board may or may not ask for clarification on the proposal, but once their permission is obtained, the researcher can begin to call out participants for the actual study itself.
After the participants give their consent to be part of the study, the actual experiment commences. This can be a long process depending on the scope of the research – sometimes even years. Afterwards, the results are charted, the data is analyzed and the entire project from conception to conclusion is compiled into a large document that few people outside of the research community can understand. (This is why many published studies are “bottom-lined” in press releases.)
Once the full paper is written, the researcher submits it to an academic journal in hopes that it will be peer-reviewed and published. This is not as easy as it looks. When the editor of the journal receives a paper for possible publication, it is forwarded to experts in the field for examination. These experts are charged with evaluating the quality of the submitted manuscript, requesting revisions or outright rejecting it if they conclude that the findings are flawed or that the science is invalid.
As you may imagine, there are few people who qualify as experts in the field of ASMR and even less who have conducted traditional research into the subject. Naturally this means that any paper would be subjected to those in the fields that the study pertained to (e.g. neurology) and as a general rule, traditional medicine has always had difficulty accepting alternative techniques (though they are getting better) which is why it may be a while before we actually start to see some authoritative work published in the field of ASMR.
With little to go on outside of conjecture and accepted beliefs, no access to specialized equipment and a two-month deadline to write a 275-page book about it, I had no choice but to break ASMR down little by little in order to try and determine what it is, where it comes from, how it works, why we need it and whether or not the scientific community really does know about it.
No doubt, I was grasping at straws, but hey, it’s a whole lot easier than trying to hold a moonbeam in your hand!
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Read this blog post at: www.thewaterwhispers.com
Read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to ASMR: http://www.amazon.com/Idiots-Guides-ASMR-Julie-Young/dp/1615648186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432674500&sr=8-1&keywords=Idiots+guides%3A+ASMR