YouTube videos help thousands achieve tingling 'brain orgasms'
Sonja Puzic, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, March 7, 2014 10:13AM EST
Last Updated Friday, March 7, 2014 5:44PM EST
Have you ever experienced a tingling sensation in your head, triggered by the sound of a soothing voice, a foreign accent or rustling papers?
If your answer is no, then you may find this weird or downright creepy.
Google the acronym ASMR and you’ll find dozens of YouTube videos of (mostly) women whispering into the camera, blowing softly into the lens, tapping their fingernails on cardboard or pretending to brush the viewers’ hair.
They may sound like fetish videos, but those who make them say it’s all about relaxation and helping viewers sleep.
ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, or “braingasm,” as some people call it. ASMR is a scientific-sounding name for the brain tingling sensations triggered by certain stimuli, but there are no known scientific studies of the phenomenon that has exploded online over the last couple of years.
Ilse Blansert, a woman from the Netherlands who now lives in Canada, has garnered millions of hits on her ASMR videos. On her website, she produces various relaxing sounds for her viewers, such as typing on a computer keyboard, running her fingers and a pen over newspaper pages, and lighting matches.
In one video, she lays out crayons on a bed and repeatedly runs one over the others.
Blansert told CTV’s Canada AM Friday that she discovered the online ASMR community in 2011, after searching for solutions to her anxiety and insomnia.
“I’ve experienced these tingles my entire life, but I never knew that they had a name,” she said, recalling how she would fall asleep “in five minutes” as a child when her grandmother sang Dutch songs and stroked her face.
After learning about ASMR, Blansert started making her own videos and her viewership immediately grew.
“I’m blown away. I never saw this coming in any kind of way,” she said.
“I just wanted to help people fall asleep.”
Now, there are “hundreds of video makers,” Blansert said, catering to diverse demands for “braingasm”-inducing sounds.