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  • Writer's pictureShannon

Brain Orgasm? What is ASMR?

Have you ever felt tingly sensations overcoming your scalp or running down your entire body? Perhaps the whispers of someone in your ear, or the gentle running of their fingertips or nails on your skin encouraged this tingling sensation. Wondering what this physical sensation is? It’s ASMR.

If you’re anything like me, and to be precise, the ‘me’ half a year ago that randomly clicked on a YouTube clip with an attractive woman whispering to the camera, caressing the microphone occasionally and staring into the camera intimately, flirtatiously to an extent, for the whole ten minutes then you may find yourself wondering why the clip is so awkward yet so undeniably satisfying. This curiosity then drives you into watching a series of related clips presented to you by the auto-play function on YouTube and you are now immersed in watching videos where a pair of hands stroke and crinkle ripped paper in a somewhat disturbingly arousing way for another five minutes. You then cannot resist the temptation to discover more ASMR videos floating on the Internet because they provide some sort of sensual relaxation. Although this sensation is no stranger to us, the sensation itself and the term ASMR isn’t a commonly known phenomenon and there has been limited scientific research conducted to rationalize it. However a subculture has formed, in particular through the use of YouTube, which focuses on triggering the stimulus to create the sensation.

Demystify ASMR

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. This is an overwhelming physical sensation characterised by a pleasurable tingling, some even describing it as a ‘brain orgasm’. This sensation begins on the scalp before moving to the base of the neck and running down the spine, sometimes even spreading to the back and towards arms and legs as the intensity increases. The sensation is most commonly triggered by specific acoustic, visual and digital media stimuli, whilst less commonly being triggered by intentional attention control.

Why ‘ASMR’?

Firstly introduced to the public on the 25th of February 2010 by cyber-security professional Jennifer Allen whom was residing in New York, ASMR was brought officially to the public’s attention and given specific meaning:

  • Autonomous – spontaneous, self-governing, within or without control

  • Sensory – pertaining to the senses or sensation

  • Meridian – signifying a peak, climax, or point of highest development

  • Response – referring to an experience triggered by something external or internal

Prior to 2010, there were varied names proposed by the media and public to describe the kind of sensory responses ASMR entails such as ‘Attention Induced Head Orgasm’, ‘Spine Tingle’, ‘Brain Massage’ and ‘Brain Orgasm’ to name a few. Whilst many of these names included reference to ‘orgasm’, ASMR doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual. In order to clarify this point further, the ASMR community introduced another term known as ASMRotica, which describes videos that are deliberately designed to be sexually stimulating. Just last year in 2016, Allen had an interview with Dr.Richard, founder of a very popular ASMR related website – In their conversation, Allen explained she selected those terms because they were more objective, comfortable and clinical than alternative terms for the sensation. Allen also justified the selection of the word ‘meridian’ to replace the word ‘orgasm’ due to its meaning of point or period of greatest prosperity.

Check out my YouTube Channel: Tinglytingling ASMR


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