Misophonia: A Serious Medical Condition

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013 by Dylan Benson in Labels:

No one likes the sound of nails on a chalkboard right?  It makes you cringe, cover your ears, and ask why someone did that.  Now what if you feel even worse than that every day, but to an extensive amount of day to day sounds?  What if you become angry, get headaches, cry, or slam your head into the wall saying “make these sounds go away”?  While this may sound like a crazy person, it’s actually a disorder called misophonia.

Now, I am not a medical professional, so take this only as information and not medical advice.  Misophonia is literally, “the hatred of sound”.  And no, I did not make this up.  People with misophonia can become enraged by a simple auditory trigger.  These “triggers” are things we all hear in our day to day lives: texting, chewing, pen tapping, laughing, and the like.  When people with misophonia hear these triggers, they cannot help the feelings of anger, emotional distress, and/or anxiety they feel.

This condition is hardly recognized in the medical field.  People who have it suffer.  People with the condition enter a fight or flight mode when these triggers occur.  One of the biggest triggers is chewing.  If this is a trigger for someone, they often either want to “knock the person’s teeth out” or run away.  They want the noise to stop!  Dr. Marsha Johnson of the Oregon Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Treatment Clinic says these people experience a “Mount St. Helen eruption of emotions and feelings associated with this sounds.” 

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So what is the cure to something like this?  Well, there is none.  People who suffer from this condition must deal with it.  Some scream to relieve tension, others avoid or isolate themselves from the sounds, others cover their ears. 

Why am I even writing about this?  Well, I have it.  It is absolutely terrible, and go figure, I have a degree in recording arts.  Misophonia is said to get worse with age, and triggers are more prevalent with those you love.  This could not be closer to the truth.  I love my mom, but I can’t stand the headaches I get, the anxiety I feel, or the anger that I have to deal with.

“Why are you always so snotty?”  Or, “What’s wrong?”  Or, “Is it because of me?” are the questions I get a lot at home.  I’ll ignore them, say nothing is wrong, or make something up.  I tried to explain the condition once, and I got laughed at.  Then it turned into a selfish phase of “fine, I won’t laugh, or eat, or anything”.  It was almost as if it was being treated as a joke to get me to think about other people’s feelings.  If misophonia is made up, then so is her claustrophobia.  I mean really: how on earth could someone be afraid of small places?  It’s so stupid!  See what I mean?

So what triggers it for me?  As time goes on, it’s easier to list what doesn’t.  Most of the time, it’s triggered from home from my mom.  Chewing, mouth pops and click, talking while chewing, spitting, laughing, sniffing, drinking, that “ahh/ugh” sound after drinking.  So many things.  Anyone I get close to I start feeling the same. 

This video is a great visual representation:

For those who have this, I am sorry.  You are not alone.  There is no cure for what we have.  We must all suffer together.