PinkPoppyASMR on the relationship between ASMR and ADHD

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Recently, I was able to meet with Poppy, a YouTuber specialising in ASMR. Her channel, PinkPoppyASMR, has garnered an audience of over 23,000 subscribers in less than a year. Still a university student herself, Poppy has built a successful platform online, while simultaneously writing the first dissertation ever to focus on the sub-genre of chaotic ASMR. 

Our conversation focused first on what ASMR actually is. Poppy described that “ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It’s a term that was coined by Jennifer Allen in 2010 – so it’s relatively new. It’s used to describe a tingly feeling you get across your skull, down your neck, maybe down your spine, in response to visual, or audio or circumstantial triggers. So, you might get it from a video intended for that use, but you also might get it in person. Say you’re having a haircut, you might feel that things like personal attention and scissor sounds will actually cause tingles. A lot of people experience it in childhood, and don’t realise that not everybody gets it. We’re not 100% sure, but we believe that about 60% of people do, 40% don’t – but there’s not a lot of research into it yet.” 

Poppy went on to explain that “ASMR is for absolutely everyone. I think that it’s kind of like music, where there’s a genre for everyone. Some people really like a lot of personal attention, so they might enjoy roleplays that are really realistic, like a doctor roleplay. Some people don’t like anyone to be in it at all, and they prefer slime, and stuff like that. It can be as personal or not personal as you like, and it doesn’t have any age or gender limit, anyone can get relaxation from it.”

There was this video that gave me the strongest tingles across my skull, and my eyes got so heavy

I asked Poppy what initially fostered her interest in ASMR, and how this shaped her career path. “I’ve been watching ASMR for about five years. I used to have really bad insomnia, and I got recommended a video. I still remember it, it was by Karuna Satori, and it was a girlfriend roleplay. And I was like: what is this, I hate it, this is awful – why’s she whispering to me and flirting with me? – this is so bizarre. And since I’d watched it, YouTube was like great, let’s recommend her more of that. I was curious, so I kept trying it, and there was this video that gave me the strongest tingles across my skull, and my eyes got so heavy. And that was it, I started watching it every single night, if not every single day and night, for years. I remember thinking I want to do this, this is the coolest thing ever. I just didn’t have the confidence until now.”

Poppy started creating ASMR about eight months ago, and posting it online seven months ago. “I wanted to get a hold of the editing style. Especially because my content is very fast paced and creative, I wanted to make sure I could keep up that energy on camera, so I didn’t embarrass myself.” When I asked how long it took for her platform’s popularity to take off, Poppy explained how quickly it progressed. “I think the algorithm just worked for me. The first video got a lot of attention straight away. I was quite consistent with uploads because I just love doing it, it’s my whole life really.”

I’m thinking about ASMR 24/7; I pick an object up and I tap it, to see if it makes sounds

Poppy then described how her style has evolved over time. “When I first started, my content was so edited, but I’ve gotten much more natural now. I’m thinking about ASMR 24/7; I pick an object up and I tap it, to see if it makes sounds. If I get a haircut or something, I think about how they’re moving, what it is that makes me feel relaxed and comfortable. I also take feedback from people’s comments, see what they like, what they don’t like, and just go from that.” Poppy went on to express that “it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I love having a creative outlet. I have ADHD, so I’m quite energetic – I’ve got a lot of energy to give. So if I’ve done nothing all day, it feels like a personal interaction for me too. It feels like talking to a friend, or being on FaceTime.”

Our conversation shifted next to the challenges Poppy has faced since launching her channel. “The thing with ASMR is that it creates a pseudo-relationship between the creator and the viewer. Some of my viewers create a relationship with me in their head that I’m not part of, and get very attached to me. Which I’m usually not fussed about, but some of them take it further. I’ve had a couple of issues with people overstepping boundaries. I’ve had emails or posts made about me which have been so intense – people I don’t know are talking to me like I’ve personally hurt them. It feels very creepy, because they manage to find out a lot about me. Someone found out where I go to university, where I live. I also do custom videos and sometimes I’ll get really disgusting requests. Due to the sexualisation in the community, people assume that because I do ASMR, I’ll partake in that kind of area as well.” 

I think because there’s a lot of sexualisation surrounding ASMR, it’s not taken as seriously as it should be… I think it needs to have more credibility in the psychiatric world

Poppy is still an undergraduate student, studying Psychology as her major, and Literature as her minor. She is currently writing her dissertation, which is a qualitative study into chaotic ASMR triggers; it will be the first piece of academic literature to focus on chaotic ASMR. Poppy explained that “ASMR has only been researched since 2010, so we have very little literature about it in general. I want to see whether people are getting the same physiological responses, the same social and mental benefits from it. At the moment I’m interviewing six people: two content creators and four viewers. I’m asking them what they like about chaotic ASMR, what triggers they want to go back to, what the benefits are. It’s been fascinating so far.”

Poppy hopes to pursue a full-time career in creating ASMR, while continuing to research its effects. “I’m very passionate about doing more research in this area. I think because there’s a lot of sexualisation surrounding ASMR, it’s not taken as seriously as it should be. To me, it’s free, accessible therapy. Especially the fast-paced ones, because they work with people who have ADHD. People who have ADHD tend to be quite treatment resistant, because it’s hard to find something that helps. So for people who have overactive brains, or think all the time, or can’t stop being anxious, chaotic ASMR is one of the only things that works. I think it needs to have more credibility in the psychiatric world. I would really like to study more in depth the link between ADHD and ASMR, because there’s definitely something there.”

If you’re interested in exploring Poppy’s ASMR, her channel can be visited via the following link. https://www.youtube.com/c/PinkPoppyASMR

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