ASMR and the Dreaded Dentist

One medical phenomenon about which I’ve begun to rave with due frequency is ASMR, which is “Automated Sensory Meridian Response.” You LiveJournal veterans may recall me writing about this back in around 2005(!), when I still knew it only by the name I had come up with on my own–the Housefly Effect. This differed from the “Butterfly Effect” in a number of ways:

1) It was a completely different concept in every way.
2) Am I the only one who thought that movie was actually kind of okay?
3) I mean come on, who knew Kutcher could do drama back then?

The “Housefly Effect” was the name I had given to a sensation which occasionally visits me, whereby a particular stimulus puts me in a relaxed state so deep that it causes my cranial nether-regions to tingle in a very tangible way for some time (usually until another counter-stimulus like a loud-ass train whistle or radio commercial comes along to spoil it, replacing my good vibrations with trembling rage).

I’d long wondered how common the phenomenon was, and why you didn’t hear people talking about it more. To me, it was one of the nicest physical sensations a person could feel, and it became the reason I started looking forward to haircuts.

With the internet and especially social media having progressed significantly even since 2005, a recent, whim-spurred search result yielded far more interesting results than I had ever found before. This was a year ago, and it is when I learned that the phenomenon not only has a proper name, but also several nicknames and an avid fan following. Chasers of this sensation–often and appropriately referred to a “headgasm”–have communed on Facebook and elsewhere to pool their findings, and in particular have turned to YouTube as a reliable well of ASMR “triggers.” Awareness of ASMR is at an all-time high, and I reckon it’ll soon be a widely known and referenced concept in mainstream media, a la the once elusive female orgasm.

Common findings have revealed quite a bit about ASMR, and perhaps it should come as no surprise that, like actual orgasms, different people are triggered differently. That said, some common elements have been discovered.

-Interesting accents or speech patterns as an audial stimulus.
-Visual stimulus of people working with their hands.
-Physical contact with the head, face, or back.
-Mechanical sound and/or motion.

What disturbs and sickens me is that any trip to any dentist will yield not one, but all of these factors with practically no exception, and yet the prospect of achieving ASMR during such a trip is about as promising as that of achieving a female orgasm during such a trip, which is extra preposterous for us males.

The problem is that, in addition to the above-listed factors, every trip to the dentist incorporates one other vital element–pain. It may only be instantaneous; you may not feel it at all; it may be prolonged and excruciating like a family seder. Whatever reality awaits, the threat of bizarre, torturous anguish is ever-present as the semi-beautiful Yolanda probes and molests your orifice with metal hooks and other horrific devices suitable as stage props in the deepest, darkest realms of the Sci-Fi Channel. You clench your arms, your abs, and yes, your terrified buttocks as you brace for the impending instant when discomfort turns to sharp agony like conflict erupting in the Middle-East.

“Allahu akbar!” Yolanda screams as she gouges you.

Or maybe she doesn’t. But she always might.

How’s your brain supposed to cull itself into a state of orgasmic buzzing in the midst of this heinous scenario?

“With great difficulty,” is the answer. It is a shame, too, for if only the positive, ASMR-inducing elements could be isolated, they might serve as immediate therapy with which to counter the horrid, rape-evoking other elements. Over time, one might even grow to associate tooth and gum pain with joyful head-tingling, and thenceforth enjoy each trip to the dentist. Yes, thenceforth.

I went to the dentist last week in an effort to throw my holiday time almost literally down the drain. I was not surprised to discover that, while the dentist seemed friendly and thoughtful, the experience was wholly unpleasant. After surely scraping any remaining enamel off my teeth with a metal, chisel-like object, she let me on my way, but not before casually bombarding me with the news that I needed four fillings and two “deep cleanings,” which I believe to be a euphemism for “agonizing oral rape with one or more chainsaws.”

Never one to turn down a golden opportunity, I shall use this coming occasion to test my new thesis and see if I can’t get myself into a trance before the hurt begins. Somebody pray for me, for where I’m headed is an unholy burg.

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