Misophonia making you mad?

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There’s something about Justin Bieber I just can’t stand. You may think it’s his entitled, annoying, grandiose persona, but it’s not. It’s his music. It makes me mad.

He’s not the only pop artist (oh, there’s also a classic artist or four – and jazz) that rubs my cochlear up the wrong way.

Evidently, it’s not necessarily my loss of touch with the music of the younger generation or not being hip enough to recognise the genius of jazz music. It may have something to do with a little thing called ‘misophonia’.

Misophonia is when certain sounds that may not bother anyone else trigger an over-the-top emotional reaction from someone.

Put simply, misophonia is a strong dislike or hatred of specific sounds – some that may even ‘drive you crazy’.

These sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable. Reactions can range from mild annoyance to full-blown rage.

The disorder, which is also referred to as ‘selective sound sensitivity syndrome’ is often triggered by everyday sounds, such as the sound of someone chewing, using a metal fork or spoon on a metal bowl or pot (this one also kills me), heavy breathing or a squelching shoe. Other triggers may include the sound of windscreen wipers, a squeaky shopping trolley wheel or someone tapping their foot while listening to music.

People with misophonia can also react adversely to visual stimuli accompanying a sound, such as someone fidgeting, wiggling their feet, or repeatedly turning over in their sleep while breathing heavily or snoring. Seeing someone get ready to eat or put something in their mouth might also set you off.

According to WebMD, people with misophonia may have issues with how their brains filter sounds and that one of the features of ‘misophonic sounds’ may be repetitive noise. That repetition then exacerbates other auditory processing problems.

Mild reactions to sounds or stimuli may include:

  • becoming anxious
  • discomfort
  • wanting to flee
  • disgust.

More severe reactions include:

  • rage
  • anger
  • hatred
  • panic
  • fear
  • emotional distress.

People with mild misophonia may avoid busy restaurants or establishments that produce certain sounds, such as modern pop music playlists, cooking noises or plates being bashed about.

Those with severe misophonia can become somewhat aggressive or even violent, physically or verbally attacking the person or thing making the sound. Some may cry or run away from the situation.

Misophonia is lifelong condition. It’s more common with girls. Doctors aren’t quite sure what causes it, but they seem to be confident that it’s not a problem with your ears – it’s part mental, part physical – and most likely relates to how sound affects your brain and triggers automatic responses in your body.

While there is no cure for misophonia, you can manage it. In my case, I refuse to listen to the radio and have wooden spoons for cooking. For others, it may include counselling or sound therapy to create coping strategies. Some people are fitted with hearing aids that play water sounds which ease their anxiety and distract them from reaction triggers. Ear plugs and headsets can also be used to tune out annoying sounds (I swear by this method).

If you think you may suffer from misophonia, visit www.allergictosound.com or www.beyondblue.org.au for assistance.

Do you think you might be suffering from misophonia? Which sounds do you find most annoying?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 9
  1. 0

    So that’s what it is! I didn’t know it had a name, but it isn’t necessarily incurable…I’ve had it every time I’ve turned on the telly since the election was announced, but I’m expecting it to clear up after Saturday night.

    • 0

      Know exactly what you mean Straydays – I can’t wait until next week either when the elections hype is over!!
      One sound that truly irritates me is when my husband is watching
      the footy and that incessant sound of the umpires whistle every few
      minutes, sometimes seconds!! Really gets to me!

  2. 0

    My problem! Politicians, sports commentators and morning show talking heads try to talk over each other about nothing.

  3. 0

    Noisy eaters! They chomp away at raw carrots and nuts half the time with open mouths to boot.

    And screaming kids! Not genuinely upset kids. Those that have that particular high pitched shriek when they are ignored. This sound actyually phsically hurts. I went for a hearing test (being of an age :-() only to discover there is actually physical reason for it. Due to an explosive trauma, (in my case gun fire) the silia at top end of the hearing spectrum have been damaged which means they waive faster and more agressively when they encouter sound at specific wavelengths. This is what I can feel and why I can’t stand that screaming that kids do especially in supermarkets where it reverberates too!.

    • 0

      High time parents did something about those high pitched shrieking mongrel children like a good kick up the bum or a sock in the gob

  4. 0

    i suffer from this but those around me think i am being unreasonable probably because i have a cochlear implant – trouble is i can hear better the sounds that grate upon me and so the misophonia is worse than ever but still i am seen as unreasonable

  5. 0

    I have a PhD in music composition, which exacerbates my misophonia. I react badly to the sound of electric guitars in particular. Fortunately, I avoid rock, pop, hip-hop etc., 99.9999% of which is garbage anyway.

  6. 0

    I think there’s more to it than that. Like the doubtful quality of the mainly artificial music that’s composed with sounds on a computer. The artificial bass drum being the worst.

  7. 0

    It’s that stupid electronic bass drum that became trendy about 2005 with the music they called Duff Duff. Instantly recognizable by its over simplified beat.

    Now they ruin a lot of existing older music by mixing in a more powerful bass drum and rerecording it.

    As if that was the right way to do things, assuming before that, everybody got it wrong



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