What is misophonia?
The term “misophonia” was coined in 2000. Meaning “hatred of sound,” it stands for a specific anxiety disorder. However, a sufferer doesn’t hate all sounds or loud sounds in particular. In contrast, sounds, or “trigger sounds,” that make a misophonic feel a sharp pang of fury are usually quiet and soft. The problem is that misophonics can’t control their emotions or the response to a trigger sound that can range in intensity from mere discomfort to the fight-or-flight response. This can turn not only a misophonic’s life but the lives of other people – his/her family members, co-workers, or classmates – into a nightmare. Moreover, a misophonic is aware that his/her reaction is over-exaggerated and that other people don’t normally react to those sounds in this way.
What sounds do misophonics hate?
There is a classification of trigger sounds that make a misophonic angry:
- Eating sounds comprise everything from chewing and sipping to nail-biting and lip-smacking;
- Breathing sounds include hiccups, snoring, or nose whistling;
- Vocal sounds such as muffled talking, baby crying or whistling;
- A misophonic can be sensitive to environmental sounds like pen clicking or cell phone ringtone;
- Metal/plastic sounds such as rattling keys in pockets or water bottle squeezing can also provoke anger;
- Car/home appliance sounds embrace everything from car doors slamming to the sound of an air conditioner;
- Animal sounds including dog barking, crickets or bird sounds.
Is there a cure?
Since misophonia was discovered not so long ago, the condition hasn’t been explored thoroughly yet. However, there are several therapies that are believed to help people with misophonia:
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy was introduced by Professor Pawel Jastreboff who coined the term “misophonia.” During a session, a sufferer explores scientific mechanisms of misophonia, therefore, learning to live with misophonia and control his/her emotions;
- Color noise is a therapeutic technique based on identifying a trigger sound with color to mask it.
- Abdominal breathing is a well-known technique that reduces stress and helps deal with panic attacks.
- By and large, if you know someone who suffers from misophonia just ask him/her what you should do not to provoke unpleasant reactions.