• ASMR Inducing Videos Might Be Useful For CFS/ME Sufferers

    Written by Casey Douglass

    Photo used freely courtesy of Gratisography.

    ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, the long-winded name for a sensation caused by the brain's response to a certain kind of stimulus, and it may be helpful to CFS/ME sufferers. It tends to start somewhere on the head and then make its way down the body, but individuals may experience it in their own unique way. The triggering event can be anything from seeing something in particular, hearing a certain kind of sound or even feeling a certain physical sensation, such as someone stroking your arm or your face. It appears that not everyone will respond to the same triggers, or even respond at all, but there are now a large amount of YouTube channels and websites devoted to helping people experience ASMR.

    Why is experiencing ASMR desirable I hear you ask. Well, besides being pleasurable it also appears to aid the experiencer in relaxing and de-stressing, often in the guise of helping them get to sleep. Simply typing “ASMR” into YouTube brings up a wealth of results, most of which bearing themes that you would have to have a heart made of stone to not giggle at. There are various kinds of roleplay, from visits to the doctors for an ear cleaning, to the maker simply whispering to the listener and moving from ear to ear. The other type of videos available tend to feature the using of objects to make certain sounds: finger nails plucking at a hair brush or something textured being ruffled or stroked as examples. Even though ASMR has sometimes been referred to as “braingasms” or similar, it is not intended to be a sexual thing. A number of ASMR video creators have said that arousal can actually reduce the effect of ASMR, and that if you find yourself in this state you might be better trying another producer or scenario.

    The large range of ASMR videos on offer is due to the seeming uniqueness of possible triggers to any given person. While you might achieve the ASMR feeling by a roleplaying scenario of having an ear massage, I might be left cold and only feel ASMR at the sounds of a pen writing on paper. Even if you do nail down a trigger that works, there is no guarantee that it will work every time or even in the future. I'm not even sure if my own experiences are ASMR, there are so many different opinions about the effect. My own ASMR experiences tend to relate to particular music I listen to, that feeling of enjoyment and goosebumps at certain moments. I have certain tracks that seem to reliably cause this response for me but I try not to over-listen to them as previously “reliable” triggers now have no effect on me. The grounds are muddy in the realm of ASMR however and there is often debate about whether music induced ASMR is not simply frisson, a chill and goosebump inducing effect that some say varies to ASMR in the response gained from the body and emotions. Whatever the case, you can make your own decision if you are lucky enough to experience both.

    Anyone with CFS/ME will know the frustration of trying to get better, to get noticed and to get help. Putting all of that struggle aside for awhile and discovering something potentially useful in ASMR sounds like a great way to relax for awhile before you have to gird yourself for another round of dealing with life again. Relaxing and de-stressing can only be a good thing. ASMR has had little research, but there don't appear to be any negative side effects. The only issue I came across is the warning from some quarters to not become too reliant on it as a sleeping aid, in case you become unable to get to sleep in any other way. Also, if you are using ASMR in the hope of dealing with any kind of problem, be it mental or physical, don't put off getting professional medical help as well. As with anything though, you try it at your own risk: everyone is different in what their responses might be.

    If you do decide to delve deeper into ASMR, YouTube seems to be the place to start. Be prepared to spend some time trying different video producers; the sex of the talker and the production quality, along with the subject, are all likely key factors in what will work for you and what won't. On the plus side, once you do find someone that you enjoy listening to, the chances are high that they will have made more than one video; some have a great many! Below I have listed a few channels that I feel are worth checking out and that have a good range of videos for you to experience. Good luck!

    Gentle Whispering - Female voice, one of the most well-known.

    WhispersRED ASMR - Another well-known female producer.

    MassageASMR - A male ASMR creator, many videos focussing on massage.