ASMR Mania, Trigger-Chasing, and the Anxiety of Digital Repletion

  • Hugh S. Manon
Part of the The Palgrave Lacan Series book series (PALS)


Performers in YouTube autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos speak directly into the camera, very close, in sibilant whispers, consonant repetitions, and with an attitude of oversolicitous caregiving that verges on the robotic. The goal is to trigger tingling sensations in the beholder’s head, neck, and spine. Whereas ASMR enthusiasts appear to seek a formula for tingly satisfaction, this chapter argues that ASMR is symptomatic of broader digital–millennial trends in its repudiation of the ‘lack of lack itself’ Lacan identifies as anxiety. ASMR’s empty verbal patter and sounds of extreme proximity mobilize the orifical locus of the drive. The beholder is not emotionally invested, but instead ‘triggered’ like a binary switch. Such millennial investments in trigger pleasure represent a drive-centered, anxiety-busting response to the oversaturation endemic to digital culture.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugh S. Manon
    • 1
  1. 1.Clark UniversityWorcesterUSA

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