Remember "coregasms", the terribly-named, surprisingly-common phenomenon that involved the ability to orgasm from exercise? That's pretty damn weird — but Jessica Roy may have it beat. In a piece on Time.com, Roy describes something known as "autonomous sensory meridian response" (ASMR) — or, in layman's terms, brain orgasm. "Hundreds of people create ASMR videos and upload them to YouTube for the purpose of helping people relax," Roy explains. "The community ... now boasts almost 2 million videos."
Basically, ASMR involves non-sexually induced responses that are (kind of) similar to orgasms. "Whispering is a primary trigger," writes Roy, but triggers can also be visual or touch-based. As a kid, my friends and I played a game called "Ax in the Back," which involved a singsongy chant accompanied by a series of pinches, taps and blowing on each other's backs and necks. It was designed to provoke goosebumps, tingling and chills. As far as I can tell, we may have been early practitioners of ASMR.
The folks uploading and watching ASMR videos and participating in Reddit forums about it seem to be trying to create these same sort of feelings we did as kids. Despite being nicknamed "brain orgasms," the whole business has very little to do with anything sexual. "The sensation is compared to an orgasm because it can feel similar, just centered at the top of the body instead of the bottom," Roy writes. "ASMRs are intimate but not sexual, feel-good but not orgasmic, private but not secret."
The whole phenomenon is very bizarre to me — not the fact that it happens, but the hype around it. Are people actually surprised that certain tones of voice or types of touch can produce tingling or trance-like states? Have these people never had someone play with their hair, never listened to someone with a particularly melodic voice? Yeah, humans react to sensory experiences. Most of us realized that back in the ax-in-the-back, light-as-a-feather-stiff-as-a-board days.
But that's not to say the ASMR videos aren't soothing or relaxing. The few that I watched definitely are; I got head chills right away listening to them. You can check some out for yourself at Gentle Whispering's YouTube channel — just be careful playing them while exercising, I guess? You never know. All orgasm hell could break loose.
Image: Via GentleWhispering