Do you find yourself clenching your teeth or hands, wanting to scream with rage or bash something for what seems like no reason, except that someone nearby is clicking a pen, munching on carrots, or slurping their drink? Have your loved ones and friends laughed at you because you feel such strong emotional responses to sounds others don’t even seem to notice?
Then you may have misophonia. It’s literally a condition that’s “hatred of sound.” Not all sounds, but specific ones that trigger a negative, very real physical response.
People who have this are disturbed by harmless stimuli of ordinary sounds that trigger rage. Such sounds as other people brushing teeth, eating, breathing, sniffing, talking, sneezing, yawning, walking, chewing gum, laughing, snoring, whistling or coughing; certain consonants; or repetitive sounds. Loud or soft it doesn’t matter to the offended.
Sounds silly, right? Not to the one that has it. Like me.
There is no cure. The noise can put the sufferer in full force fight-or-flight response.
My top noise triggers:
1. Animals licking themselves
This sound literally drives me INSANE. Ask my husband and son who laugh at me every time our cats do it. I yell at the cats to stop and either must leave the room – or toss them (with affection of course. Animal-lovers please take note). The worst offenders are dogs. Visiting friends with them can be hard. When secret friendly toe-nudges in the dog’s side don’t work I have to make up an excuse to leave the room (dog owners beware!)
What are you eight years old? Folks who do this at the water fountain at work need to read the sign I posted over it. NO SLURPING.
3. Nail clipping
A message to the men who seem to do this at every job I have had: STOP! This is only done in your bathroom at home. And did you ever wonder where those clippers go? I’ve confiscated several when you weren’t at your desk. I rummaged through your drawers until I found the offending item.
Clip. Clip. Clip.
Bash. Bash. Bash.
4. Munching Cheerios
Okay, I forgive my husband for this one. The man eats Cheerios every day of his life. He’s too nice a guy to yell at, so I leave the room. This is why we never eat breakfast together. If he switched to oatmeal we could be okay. I even forgive his occasional coffee slurp, but the dirty look reigns.
Misophonia is a complicated and little understood disorder that affects a person’s sensitivity to noise. The word ‘misophonia’ was invented by Dr. Pawel Jastreboff to try and clear up the misunderstanding. Misophonia can also be associated with tinnitus, a noise or ringing in the ears that affects 1 in 5 people.
Misophonia segment on The Today Show
Do you have misophonia? If certain sounds drive you to a flood of reflexive rage and panic with a storm of fight-or-flight reactions (adrenaline flooding, face flushing, heart-pounding) then you could.
Folks with this disorder have sometimes been categorized as having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Nothing to be laughed at, this sound intolerance condition can have a negative impact on your life affecting social interactions and work or family life. It doesn’t mean that a person with this is sad or depressed. It’s a sound sensitivity syndrome to be managed.
How to overcome your noise sensitivity?
1. Know your noise triggers and remove yourself from the situation or add other noise to drown out the offending one.
2. Do what makes you happy! Don’t let this sensitivity stop you from doing what you love.
3. Try and visualize the sound being something else. For example, nail clipping as the clipping of rose bushes (doesn’t work for me, but let me know if it does for you!).
4. Talk to your doctor if it’s affecting your quality of life.
Are you sensitive to certain noises? What sorts of sounds literally drive you into a rage?