DALLAS — Millions of Internet users are tuning in to a new type of online video where people whisper and perform mundane, often absurd tasks in hushed tones.
These videos — for some viewers — provoke a physical, sometimes strange, response.
"It almost feels like a little euphoric firework that's going off in your brain," explained one viewer. "It just cascades down your scalp. It can go down your neck. For me, it pretty much stays isolated to my head, and it's very calming."
The odd phenomenon is called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR. Madonna and Guy Ritchie reportedly used the technique to save their marriage.
It didn't work for them.
But since then, the online "whisper movement" has grown. An Internet search of ASMR yields dozens of videos with millions of viewers.
"Ally" is an ASMR content creator with more than 42,000 followers. They tune in regularly to her YouTube channel to watch her tap together toys, perform detailed tasks, or just softly talk about nothing important.
"People deal with anxiety, insomnia," she explained. "For some reason, this sensation that they have and that I can provide for them gives them some peace."
"I don't know that it's therapeutic," said Dr. Wendy Rice, a psychologist for more than a decade.
She admits she had never heard of ASMR and could find no scientific research to support its therapeutic value.
"However, I think if we're talking about a relaxation technique, I can't imagine it's harmful based on on what I observed," Dr. Rice said.
"Josh A" watches the ASMR videos to relax. "Some people will drink a glass of wine; some people will watch a TV show; some people read a book," he said. "I just like to watch these videos."
Those who enjoy the ASMR experience call it a massage for the brain, where fingertips are used without pressure, and voices are never raised.