EDITOR UPDATE: This article was written by a misophonia sufferer, and not a doctor. However, I have some exciting news for you! There has now been research released on this phenomenon! You can read about this here: https://asmruniversity.com/2018/06/02/research-publication-misophonia-asmr/#more-7897.
For those of you who don’t know, ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) is when someone may experience a tingling sensation on their scalp, back or limps after hearing certain sounds.
You may be wondering what ASMR and Misophonia have in common though!
It’s important to note that not everyone can actually experience ASMR. Similar to other minor things, such as being able to move your ears or curl your tongue, the tingling sensation produced by ASMR isn’t available to everyone. Some people barely experience it, getting a few tingles on their head, and some people get tingles everywhere. Like many other things, it differs between people. I myself sometimes get tingles, though it can take a while. There are many different sounds, also known as triggers, that trigger ASMR in people and many of them are similar to Misophonia triggers, which worries myself and a lot of other misophones.
The list includes lip smacking, sh sounds, keyboard tapping, clicking, whispering, tapping, white noise, scratching and so on.
For someone with misophonia, ASMR can often be a hell full of triggers and nothing but triggers. As someone who can experience ASMR and has misophonia, it certainly can be interesting to explore the ASMR community on YouTube and see what works for me and what sets my misophonia off. For myself, I can’t stand verbal ASMR because they often emphasise sh sounds, s sounds and so on, which are my major triggers. I tend to stick to non-verbal ASMR videos as I know what my triggers are exactly.
ASMR and Misophonia are not related as far as research shows. ASMR is likely caused by endorphins which causes the relaxing, tingling feeling some people experience, while Misophonia is likely a neurological illness. However it’s definitely interesting how they share the same “triggers” and how people can respond to them in very drastic ways. I’ve never encountered anyone with misophonia in the comments of ASMR videos though. Many people comment on how ASMR helps people sleep, helps people relax, calms their anxiety down and so on. Compare this to Misophonia triggers which can cause anxiety attacks, panic attacks, bouts of rage and so on, it is definitely odd how different people can react differently.
I’ve asked the question, can someone have Misophonia and experience ASMR at the same time? Personally, I’d say yes because I myself can. However, if you’ve never listened to ASMR and you have Misophonia I highly recommend you avoid the community and its videos at all cost. Not because they’re bad- usually the quality is high and the ASMRists are lovely, but because you can’t know for sure if you’ll even experience ASMR. I don’t think it’s worth possibly being horribly triggered over and over again just to find out. If you really are curious, you can go and explore the ASMR community, but keep an eye out for any videos that may include your misophonia triggers.
Who knows, maybe you’ll be lucky and find a specific ASMR trigger that calms you down! Happened to me, and it’s a video I go to every night to fall asleep. Despite this, I still recommend you avoid ASMR if you aren’t 100% sure you’ll experience any benefit from the videos. Your health is important and it’s not worth being triggered badly if you don’t gain anything from it.
That being said, it’s still interesting how similar the triggers are, but how different the reactions are. There hasn’t been much research into ASMR, so they don’t know much about it, but both ASMR and Misophonia appear to be neurological. It’s an interesting topic to look into if you want to explore the science behind it.