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Vol. 3 (2022): Reverting the Gaze: Resisting Humanism & Hegemony in the West

The ASMR Paradox : Scientific Discourse and the Enchanting Ephemeral Body of ASMR

  • M. F. Collao Quevedo
August 19, 2021


This paper explores tensions between scientific understandings of the internet phenomenon known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) and accounts of the experience put forth by people who experience ASMR (also known as ASMRers). While current scientific research into the therapeutic affordances and the physiological, neurological, and psychological determinants of ASMR have failed to produce satisfactory accounts of the experience, ASMRers label and describe the phenomenon in scientific terms to give the experience scientific validity. So far, this strategy has worked, infusing a series of scientific inquiries into the strange uniqueness of the experience. That said, efforts to understand the ASMR experience through modern scientific, technological, and conceptual strategies is not only limiting, but futile. ASMR is incomprehensible from the standpoint of modern scientific discourse because of the unique, posthuman constitution of the ASMR body. This has led to what I call the ASMR Paradox: growing efforts to describe ASMR, a scientifically inaccessible experience, in purely scientific terms. In consideration of this paradox, the following reflection piece explores the tension between scientific discourses regarding ASMR and the seemingly diametrical experiences of ASMRers. I conclude that, while the former is indebted to western humanist thinking, the latter expresses a posthumanist configuration that is incompatible with the scientific rhetoric currently being used to describe it.