What is ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)?

There's nothing I enjoy more than researching something weird and turning it into a short story.

I dove into hypnosis for Use the Pillow in the 4 Killer Crime Stories in 4 Minutes e-book (get it free here). Letters from kids to serial killers in jail got the same treatment in Timmy Says Put This in an E-Book (also part of 4 Killer Crime Stories). And let's not forget the bizarre world of medical billing, as chronicled throughout the Maynard Soloman short story series.

Yet nothing was stranger than ASMR. It stands for "Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response." I turned it into a short story called Murder Goes Viral for the new Dark Pages Vol. 1 anthology from Trestle Press.

Despite how it sounds, ASMR isn't a solid scientific term. It was coined in 2010 by the ASMR Research & Support website in an effort to formally explore the effect.

Here's its definition:

"Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a physical sensation characterized by a pleasurable tingling that typically begins in the head and scalp, and often moves down the spine and through the limbs."

However, not everyone experiences ASMR. The way to determine if you can is through exposure to a "trigger." According to that ASMR website, triggers could be:

* Exposure to slow, accented, or unique speech patterns
* Viewing educational or instructive videos or lectures
* Experiencing a high empathetic or sympathetic reaction to an event
* Enjoying a piece of art or music
* Watching another person complete a task, often in a diligent, attentive manner - examples would be filling out a form, writing a check, going through a purse or bag, inspecting an item closely, etc.
* Close, personal attention from another person
* Haircuts, or other touch from another on head or back

Weird, huh? I'm not sure if I've experienced a reaction from any of those triggers. What I do know is that thousands claim to have had an ASMR event. There are countless videos on YouTube of people executing these "triggers" in hopes of the viewer experiencing ASMR. They apparently do, if the comments are to be believed.

A common theme throughout the videos is that creative people are more likely to experience ASMR. The reason is unknown. Since ASMR is a mental experience, it would stand to reason creative people may be more open to it.

Although I consider myself to be creative, I can't say I had an ASMR experience after watching hundreds of these videos. But I can say it gave me great fodder for a short story. Here are thousands of people across the planet "triggering" each other to experience a murky mental phenomenon. What could the consequences be?

Thus the short story, Murder Goes Viral, was born. I let my imagination run wild. What if society views ASMR as a threat? What would happen to the people experiencing it? If those people are creative, would creativity be outlawed?

The answer, in the story, is "yes." Granted, I made things pretty sensational. But when a topic is this unexplored, you can't help but wonder.

If you're interested in reading more about ASMR, check out Murder Goes Viral in the Dark Pages Vol. 1 e-book from Trestle Press. It's only one of a dozen excellent shorts that are sure to "trigger" your senses.


Benjamin Sobieck is the author of the crime novel, Cleansing Eden, the Maynard Soloman short story crime humor series and many other flash fiction pieces. He lives in Minnesota. His website is CrimeFictionBook.com.

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