Sue Dorrens is currently living in Edinburgh, UK and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education from Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.
She worked as a Physical Education teacher for 14 years but now spends her time on other endeavors including several past, present, and future ASMR resources.
At present, she is very active with posting about the latest ASMR news, events, and related stories on her I Love ASMR Facebook page. She has also created an ASMR video website and is currently working on an upcoming book about ASMR.
In my interview with Sue she shares how ASMR has helped her, her creation of what might be the first ASMR video website, her observations about changing trends in ASMR, the focus of her upcoming ASMR book, and more.
Below are my questions in bold, her replies in italics, and a link to her I Love ASMR Facebook page.
When did your interest in ASMR begin?
Sue, “I became very ill in 2010 and had to give up my teaching job and return to Scotland so that family look after me, leaving behind my job and apartment in Milan, Italy.
That first year I was very ill. I struggled terribly with sleep and insomnia was a regular problem. I searched for relaxation videos on YouTube and stumbled on ‘whispering videos’.
On first listen I felt this explosion in my head. Initially I couldn’t remember ever having experienced this before. After that I regularly used whisper videos to help me get to sleep and enjoyed finding new triggers. I realised that it was ASMR although at first I wasn’t sure as my experience seemed to be quite different from the majority of people who were reporting that they’d had it all their lives, just never knew there was a name for it.
As I thought more about it I remembered a similar sensation when I was a child but only on a few occasions. It had never happened to me since then. On watching more and more videos I learned how to use ASMR to help with my insomnia and subsequent depression. I still use it regularly today.”
In 2011 you created http://www.whisperhub.co.uk, was this the first ASMR video website?
Sue, “I think so. The only other site I could find at the time was ‘Soothetube’ where the focus was on relaxation videos and so included ASMR content.
At the time ASMR videos were few and far between and many of them were not tagged very well. You could search YouTube but you would never get the the results you wanted. I thought it would be useful to people to put all the videos I could get my hands on into categories so people could find what they were looking for.
After months of work entering videos manually (my knowledge of creating websites was non-existent before I started so I seemed to be doing everything the hard way) the site finally had some great content.
However, it never really took off as the interface was clunky and load times were really slow. Also as time went on YouTube search became far superior and content creators started to understand more about how to label their videos and what triggers to focus on.”
What is the current status of http://www.whisperhub.co.uk?
Sue, “I unfortunately had to shut down whisperhub last year as it became too expensive for me to run. I would have loved to have had the time and money to update things and turn it into something else to do with ASMR but the move to Facebook made more sense.”
When and why did you create your I Love ASMR Facebook page?
Sue, “I started the page in December 2014 when I began working again on an ASMR book I’d been writing on and off for a few years. I was finding all these great articles and interesting things about ASMR that I thought people in the community might also be interested in, so I started sharing them as I went along.
I think the more we share information about ASMR, the more people learn about how to use it to make their lives better.”
What information about ASMR do you provide at the I Love ASMR site?
Sue, “I try to post any relevant articles that I come across while researching my book about ASMR. Anything new and interesting related to ASMR that peeps might not have otherwise found.
I didn’t want a video promotion wall. There are lots of other great ASMR pages that do that. I don’t mind the odd one here and there especially if it is unusual, different from other content, but I wanted to make a page where that’s not the main focus. I think people looking for ASMR video content are more likely to be looking on YouTube or Reddit than on Facebook pages.
I’ve had a few people tell me that by having access to ASMR content on the page it helps them when explaining to people close to them about ASMR for the first time. I think this is so important, especially having gone for years without any ‘backup’ trying to explain to family and friends what ASMR is!”
What trends about ASMR have you seen unfold since starting the I Love ASMR site?
Sue, “As far as how the content has evolved, we are definitely moving away from it always being described as the ‘latest internet trend’, ‘debatable whether it exists’ and something that ‘ MUST be sexual’ in nature.
Also the giggles of news presenters is fading as more informed reporters are starting to cover ASMR in the news. I think this has been a ripple effect from the research paper coming out last year.
As far as press and media coverage there is a cycle where there will be an article in a big newspaper and then for 3-4 weeks after that we are the hot topic. Fortunately it wasn’t just a 15 mins of fame, as the online community continues to grow the volume of press articles gets more and more each week.”
What theories do you have about the evolution and/or biology of ASMR?
Sue, “A lot of my theories of how and why we experience ASMR have been brought together by an accumulation of reading the many different opinions of people on the internet.
Perhaps the most interesting theory I have about ASMR is that I believe almost EVERYONE has experienced it at some time in their life. I talk a lot about this in the book as it’s something that is contradictory with the way many people think about ASMR currently – that either you have or you do not.
I think one of our main barriers to realising this, is how we describe ASMR to others and how they relate to our description of the sensation.”
What do you think are the biggest misunderstandings about ASMR?
Sue, “That you have it or you don’t! I think many people may have experienced ASMR a few times in their life but these experiences are so few and far between that when we try and describe what happens during an episode, they cannot relate to it at all.
Coming from a Catholic background I also sometimes wonder if we subconsciously suppress ASMR experiences as we think it’s something sexual, something naughty.
I also think that we associate ASMR primarily non-tactile experiences but if we include instances of ASMR that results from direct touch, and I think the phenomenon is FAR more widespread than we think.”
You are writing a book about ASMR, what areas of ASMR will your book focus on?
Sue, “The main aim of the book is to help spread the word about ASMR.
Firstly aimed at the vast number of people who we see coming to the community saying ‘I’ve had this ALL my life and I had no idea it had a name’. Hopefully the book will help them get started in learning to better control and benefit from tingles.
For anyone curious to understand more about this sensation that they don’t think they can relate to – hopefully will strike a chord in helping them remember experiences that could be ASMR and understand how to perhaps experience it again.”
What is the biggest challenge with writing the book?
Sue, “My crappy health. The last 6 years has been a struggle and unfortunately one thing I get in spades is tiredness and brain fog – not the best when trying to write a book!
But this is not stopping me and I hope to get the book out this year.”
Where do you think the understanding or application of ASMR will be in 10 years?
Sue, “I would love to see research on the specific benefits of ASMR to confirm what a powerful, and in some cases life-changing, effect it can have, leading to recognition as a form of holistic therapy. Instead of going for a massage to relax you could go get an ASMR massage focusing specifically on your triggers.”
Click HERE to visit Sue’s ‘I Love ASMR’ Facebook page.
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