Hypnosis, ASMR and brain tingles

Are you one of the millions of people that have sought out ASMR videos or downloads on the internet, or maybe you’ve created a video yourself? For those as yet unfamiliar with this growing trend, this is what it is all about...


What is ASMR?

The first descriptions of what we call ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) appeared in about 2007, although the sensations and descriptions of them are, of course, nothing new. Basically, they are describing sensory feelings that some people experience in response to set triggers. The feelings often start with a tingling in the scalp, spreading down to the rest of the body through the spine and limbs, and are often associated with feeling very relaxed and calm.

Some of the most common stimuli that trigger ASMR include:

  • People whispering - it may not matter what is being said and could even be in a foreign language, but it is usually soft, breathy or sibilant in nature.
  • Tapping or scratching sounds - the scraping of combs, rustling of paper or plastic wrapping, or tapping of fingernails have all been used to create the effect.
  • Having your hair brushed or cut.
  • Rhythmic movements of hands or objects.
  • Close personal attention - such as spa treatments, getting shoes fitted, massages or even medical or dental examinations can trigger ASMR sensations. The person inducing the relaxation in these situations is often a real or simulated expert, giving one-on-one attention, with a trustworthy disposition and a non-threatening nature.
  • Watching or listening to somebody preparing or eating certain types of food.

Often these stimuli hark back to childhood experiences, but it is possible that ASMR experiences have served some evolutionary function. The term ‘ASMR’ was coined in 2010 by Jenn Allen who set up the website ASMR-research.org, and over the past ten years a number of groups and individuals have set up internet video-sharing channels which have attracted not only a huge audience of ‘ASMRtists’ but also a number of academic researchers, with the first peer-reviewed study appearing in 2015.

The research indicated that people who were depressed reported a stronger boost from watching ASMR videos than those who were not. It has been found that people experiencing ASMR have reduced heart rate and increased skin conductance, indicating heightened emotional arousal. Anecdotally, people report being better able to cope with insomnia, depression, anxiety, PTSD and chronic pain. Though more research needs to be done, it is not known to what degree people experience ASMR; whether the phenomenon is binary or on a spectrum, and how clinically or therapeutically useful it is.

It would seem that ASMR and hypnosis have many similarities. Both can involve eye fixation, soft and almost monotonous vocal tones, methodical sounds, significant rapport, and sometimes rhythmic movements of hands or objects (the old pendulum cliché). The outcome for both involves being relaxed, although hypnosis is a deeper state of relaxation. One thing that does not enhance ASMR (nor hypnosis in my experience) is background music!

So take a break from the usual ‘relaxation’ tapes and downloads and search out ASMR videos on YouTube (1.5 million results) instead. One video of a woman demonstrating how to fold towels has 770,000 views in two years! Why not find out what gives you the 'brain tingles'?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Blairgowrie, Perth And Kinross, PH11
Written by Harry Holbrook, Dip.AH SQHP GHR reg CNHC reg
Blairgowrie, Perth And Kinross, PH11

I practice Quick Change Hypnotherapy - in other words, the therapy is deep, effective and fast. This means you will require fewer sessions, you can get on with your life sooner and it will cost you less money. I also use techniques of integrative hypnotherapy - a safe, relaxing client-centred a...

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