A while back, I wrote about how certain voices and accents have a weird effect on me. Since then, I have learned what that is – at least, in part. It’s called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR). I’ll let Joe Lycett explain:
(Link to ASMR Angel – the woman in the clip.)
There’s not a lot of scientific work being done, but ASMR is real – in that the effects are reported by people all around the globe and in relation to different sounds. Some are triggered by whispering, some by crinkling of paper, some by music. I get it during lengthy explanations, so this effect caused a great deal of confusion in grade school when some of my most-loathed teachers would somehow trigger this very pleasant tingly sensation.
Clearly, certain accents and tones of voice also set me off. Female bilingual Canadians are, as near as I can tell, guaranteed to trigger my ASMR, which I am pretty sure is down to my grandmother. The others – East Asian, Welsh, Russian – remain a mystery.
Annoyingly, much of the ASMR videos, when there is speech, tends towards whispering. My hearing isn’t the best, so trying to listen to someone inaudible just pisses me off. I get frustrated looking for ASMR vids – I’d be happy enough if they would read the phonebook, so long as I could hear them! (I’ve heard many British pop-culture references to how popular the Shipping Forecast is; I wonder if ASMR is at the heart of that?)
Music and good audio plays can also trigger the ASMR. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series is likely to trigger anyone, provided you listen on headphones. There are so many accents and a huge sonic landscape. In music: Leonard Cohen and Pink Floyd (not The Wall, it has too much anger. Try Momentary Lapse of Reason.)
Since I discovered this, I’ve been wondering if there may be a connection between ASMR and CPTSD resulting from psychological abuse. Most of the time, I sort of feel like people are talking about me just out of range. Perhaps ASMR is a reward for finally getting to hear. Maybe it comes from hearing voices which are kind and not demanding anything. Or maybe that’s all irrelevant. What do you think?