One theory that has cropped up in several places in threads or forums about ASMR or AIE is that it’s called synaesthesia. And that people who experience it are known as synaesthetes.
There’s a website about it with research taking place at the University of Waterloo under the Synaesthesia Research Group. If you take a look at the index or splash page, you might see some similarities between the two when you read the write up:
“Synaesthesia is a condition in which ordinary stimuli lead to extraordinary experiences. There are many types of synaesthesia. Some synaesthetes have conscious experiences of vivid colors when listening to music or hearing other types of sounds. Other synaesthetes experience strong tactile sensations (itching, tingling) when hearing noises such as those emitted by a vacuum cleaner."Now, note I underlined a few sentences there that we can relate to with ASMR. Especially with predominantly Type B ASMR experiencers, like myself, where sounds and other external stimuli act as triggers which initiate the sensation.
But when I look at the rest of it, even the theme of the website seems to suggest that it’s more related to colours. When people see, hear or think about something to do with letters or numbers, it sets off a visual experience, which from what I understand makes them “see” colours. Whether they literally see colours or not I don’t know. I don’t experience it.
And it also doesn’t explain Type A ASMR experiencers, who claim to not need any sort of external stimuli to elicit these sensations we’ve come to experience. They get it by a form of meditation or by thinking back to a past ASMR experience, in some cases.
And when they talk about listening to sounds, they don’t list a lot of triggers that could set it off. I certainly don’t get it while listening to a vacuum cleaner, of all things. That would likely be low on the list of things that set it off for me, personally. Now when someone uses a broom, a rake, or a dustpan and brush – now we’re talking.
I don’t know if anyone in the ASMR community experiences colours like the website explains. As far as I know we all mainly get the tingling sensations in the head which can spread to other body parts. I don’t even know if ASMR is as widespread as synaesthesia. ASMR could just be one grouping of synaesthesia. I know you don’t want to believe it, but there it is. It could be a possibility.
I’ve talked about this to other members of the core group, and even though some of us might be open to the idea, I’m sure the rest of us, myself included, would be quite disappointed. We want ASMR to be something special and new. And it is. I’ve noticed how on these threads, ASMR experiencers have defended it, and pretty much disagreed with the synaesthesia theory.
I would definitely still run the blog and continue to participate within the network and community. So I don’t know if it would really even change that much it it were true. I’d have to change the bloody name of the blog and all that other stuff though.
Here's to hoping.