About Me

Hi there,

I’m Tom and I live in London.

I’m pretty laid back, but one thing’s always been a bit out of kilter. I get stressed out – to the point of blind panic – by specific sounds.

I’ve always reacted to this sensitivity in different ways. When I hear one of these ‘trigger sounds’ I sometimes go quiet and sit there stewing (my head screaming).

Other times it’s so bad I have to find some way to leave the room.

What kind of sounds?

I’m not talking about cat’s nails down a blackboard (everyone hates that).

It’s not ‘obvious’ irritating sounds either. Like neighbours playing loud music at 5am… or people taking phone calls on public transport. Again, those are sounds that annoy everyone.

This is an aversion or allergy to certain, specific sounds that people make.

It’s the sound of someone smacking their lips when eating. It’s sighing… coughing… sniffing. Pen clicking… rustling a plastic wrapper – the list goes on.

When I was a child I assumed everyone had this, but over the years I realised it just didn’t effect them in the same way as me (if at all).

It was “my problem” and I decided I just had a heightened sensitivity to sound and a quick temper.

But in 2014 I stumbled upon people on forums talking about the same thing…

And at around the same time a friend of mine, a PhD student, happened to send me a link about misophonia.

It was then that I had the lightbulb moment. This is a REAL condition and it’s called misophonia

It’s a great word, misophonia.

It sounds like a forgotten goodness of the moon… a higher state of consciousness… the winner of a beauty pageant. The reality is more glum and it actually translates as ‘hatred of sound’.

There’s very little information about misophonia out there and there are relatively few studies. I’m keen to find out if those of us who suffer from it share different traits, maybe even positive ones as well.

This website is for misophonia sufferers. It’s a free, shared resource where we can help each other and find out more about the condition.

I also want it to be somewhere where we can educate the general public.

Until recently people thought synaesthesia was a delusion. Now that it’s recognised, the stigma has gone and more studies are being done.

Misophonia deserves the same recognition and attention.

You can read more about my story here.

22 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Hi! I have been concerned that I have Misophonia. I am very happy that I came across your website because it’s nice to know that there are other people out there that want to SCREAM when they hear a ‘trigger noise’. Sounds that I hate is mostly people chewing, swallowing and clearing their throat. For me, it’s got to the point where I have to step out of the classroom because I can’t focus on what I’m doing. I still haven’t told close friends about how much I hate noises. Although my family does know that I hate the sound of chewing, they just don’t know how bad it is. I can’t even sit at the dinner table, I am too scared. I don’t know how to tell my friends or family how serious it is. Anyway, I love this website. Lots of good information. Thank You.

    Reply
  2. Michael

    Like many others, I’ve had this for ages. It’s funny however, these sounds, sometimes I really like them, which I’ve learnt from ASMR and literally feeling euphoric while listening to these sounds, but sometimes I extremely hate them, and I resort to sometimes even moderate self harm to distract myself. What I understand is that when the situation is in your benefit, then these actions are extremely pleasant. An example is when you’re trying to sleep and this person is giving you personal attention on the ASMR video to try and induce you to sleep. When it is not in your benefit, it has the complete opposite effect, exactly the same kind of sounds, but irritating. For example my flatmates moving around and tapping things quietly at night. What’s also interesting is that I feel it so much more with people I’m closer to, my family for instance. I believe this is related to the whole idea that it is not for your benefit. I love my family to the end of the world, but especially when you’re a teenager, you have arguments with members of your family, many, and after a few of them, you’re going to hear them eating, you’re going to hear them tapping, and that’s what brings the negative link to the sound, and that, at least in my opinion, has stayed with me forever. I am very grateful my family do not eat meals together very often, and we live apart, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them of course! After discovering this it made me think, haha. Nice to know there are others and I’m not just being an irrational ballsack. Also it will be nice to use this as an excuse to my apparent irrational grumpiness.

    Reply
    • Allergic to Sound

      Haha, you’re not an irrational ballsack. Thanks for the comment Michael, like you I have both ASMR and misophonia too. It’s fascinating that there’s this crossover between the two conditions for some of us.

      Reply
  3. M100

    I had my lightbulb moment last week after reading an article in the Daily Mail on Misophonia, I have suffered from this since I can remember I just thought I was also being an irrational ballsack!
    I have also discovered after reading this excellent website that I have Misokinesia!

    Interestingly my adult son has synaesthesia!

    Reply
    • Allergic to Sound

      Thanks for your lovely comment. You’re not an irrational ballsack either! That’s very interesting that your son has synaesthesia. Too many links to my mind for this to be coincidental.

      Reply
  4. Bon

    Wow thank you so much for his article! I have suffered with Misophonia for years, my parents would mock me about it (and push my trigger points) not understanding the affect I felt! As an adult I can manage it but lately due to stress my triggers have made me internally boil! (Especially on public transport)!
    Thank you for making a space for those of us sensitive enough to live with this!
    I am starting to liken it now to a superhero talent only few of us share!

    Reply
    • Allergic to Sound

      Thank you for your kind words Bon and a very warm welcome. You’re right, it is a superhero talent!

      Reply
  5. Jenn

    Good Morning, Tom in London! We are not alone… sad as that is, it is still good to know. In opening statements, ‘About Me’, you wrote about synaesthesia now being recognized as a legitimate concern, following with misophonia should be given the same…

    Well, I tapped up another ‘window’, typed in synaesthesia, clicked on the Wikipedia subject line, and scanned the rather extensive writing on the subject. About half way down the page, under ‘types’, I came to Misophonia. Two brief lines suggested Misophonia was thought to be a subset of synaesthesia. I glanced back at descriptions of several other types of synaesthesia and frankly, I don’t get it…

    Nowhere in those ‘types’ did I read that any of them caused extreme negative reactions. In fact, under ‘Signs and Symptoms’, it reads that many people with synaesthesia have positive comments about their own experience, up to and including it enhancing their lives. Again, I don’t get it…

    I have never, ever, ever, as in never!! heard anyone with Misophonia claim it enhanced their lives. To the contrary, many of us bemoan our lives being greatly hindered, up to and including a sense of hopelessness about it.

    In fact, my negative reactions are so strong I have feared I was developing a propensity for psychotic behaviors. My particular sound, that which carries the most significance for me, is whistling. My fear of psychosis is that I want to attack the whistler, rip their face off, stuff a magic marker in their pie hole, scream at them, do whatever it takes to make them stop… now, right now. I have hidden in corners, between book shelves, with my ears plugged with fingers and cloth, while the whistler wandered away. Of course I could go on and on.. (loquacious). But I think you summed it up as well as I have ever heard, perhaps even perfectly. “The Point of Blind Panic”. Hey, this could be our slogan; on T-shirts, bumper stickers, business cards, stationary… thank you for your work… jenn in California.

    Reply
    • Allergic to Sound

      Hey Jenn, thank you for your comment. I am sorry you feel a sense of hopelessness and I do understand. I hope that by reading some of the articles on the site and looking at the research that’s happening in the field and maybe connecting with others you’ll find inspiration. You make a very good point! There is some debate as to whether synaesthesia are connected in some way (both of them being sensory disorders) and I lean towards those theories myself. I think it’s understandable for us to focus on the negative aspects of the disorder because they’re so immediate and strong and often so overwhelming. However my own personal belief is that are some, less obvious, less visceral aspects that we can embrace. I think many of us have an almost super sensory able to notice small details (I’m not just talking about negative ones relating to sound here), as well as a different perspective and a unique sense of creativity. And I might not be completely mad in this belief! https://www.allergictosound.com/articles/study-reveals-misophonia-sufferers-are-creative-geniuses/

      Reply
  6. Fife Fella

    Thanks . . . came across this through the BT News link and was reading about it earlier on the BBC News . . . wow, you’ve made my day, nay my week . . . have had this for years and years and thought I was just a complete fruitcake (can I say that ?) . . . even shared one of the links with a couple of colleagues to show them that it’s not just me . . . it’s my brain wiring and I’m really not just the miserable (but mostly likeable) b****** they thought I was. Thank you . . . have put this site at the top of my favourites and think it will make for interesting reading this weekend

    Reply
    • Allergic to Sound

      Thanks Fife Fella! It’s a great pleasure to welcome you. And no, you’re not a miserable b******!

      Reply
  7. Julie W

    I have FINALLY found someone who understands!!!! I’ve had this issue my entire life. My main trigger sounds are chewing, swallowing, crunching and throat clearing. I also can’t stand it when people suck their teeth (like after a meal to get food from between their teeth) or crack/pop gum.

    This condition seems to be getting worse because I have now developed a very strong aversion to certain types of voices. There’s a woman in the adjoining office who is very nice but something about the tonal quality of her voice is like a hot poker straight to my brain. I have to keep my door shut all day and use a white noise machine because the sound makes me feel homicidal. Meanwhile, my co-workers think I’m an overly-sensitive bitch but I keep telling them I honestly can’t help it.

    Just knowing there are others out there like me really does help. Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Gayle

    I have suffered from this for years but over time it has gotten much worse. My cousin and my daughter also have the same problem but only really with mouth noises and chewing. With me it can be anything, clicking, tapping, rustling or often it can just be too many noises in one go. Not great in the car when the radio is on, daughters talking, heaters are on and I’m trying to manouver. Sometimes I panic, often I shout, I try to ignore it but that often just results in me totally flipping out at someone. I swear it’s getting worse. I shout at work colleagues, family and friends. People just think I’m slightly loopy. It really is getting ridiculous but I have no control over it.

    Reply
  9. A J Humpage

    As a long term sufferer – almost 40 years – I’ve recently tried the exposure thing to lessen the effect, but it does the complete opposite – it makes the triggers so much worse. I really have to fight the violent tendencies and stop myself from becoming some weirdo psychotic murderer. At work I forced myself to listen to the slurping and the apple eating and crisp munching, but to no avail. It just wound me up even more. And now I’m developing a new trigger – people talking with food in their mouths. Urgh! Mumble, mumble, chew, mumble. I want to rip their jaws off. This has only manifested in the last month or so, and I know I won’t be able to stop it. But I’m recognising that it’s not just down to the hatred of SOUND, but rather the irritation and annoyance the sound causes to the senses, and I think that is what causes the trigger; that’s the catalyst. The more I heard people talking with their mouths full – and hones in on it – the more I got annoyed by it, and the more I started to dislike the sound. So, the way I see it, exposure to ANY sound that causes irritation or annoyance – or in my case, real anger – can become a trigger, and that in turn leads to the hatred of the sound. In essence, it’s our emotional response – and perception – to these annoyances that turns it into hatred, rather than something going on deep in the brain. I really want to do more research into it.

    Reply
  10. Tallulah

    I have misophonia and came across the term about 3 years ago when I was researching ‘dissociative disorder’ (which I also have). I first saw it described as ‘4S’ – Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome and managed to find a couple of things to read. The important thing for me was finding out that what I experience really is ‘a thing’ and others have it too.

    I believe there was a cause for my misophonia but I have not so far read of anyone else citing a belief that there was a specific cause for his or hers. I am in my late 40s and my whole life has been shaped by the domestic violence between my parents and from my mother to me and it’s only 18 months ago I finally got the courage to break contact with my mother. The majority of the abuse involved sound in various forms and I have always believed that is why I have misophonia (and depression, anxiety, dissociative disorder and self-injury). I am not aware that the trigger sounds are triggers because they were sounds I heard during a violent attack and it doesn’t feel like a ‘flashback’ (although I have them too). But I believe the abuse caused it, likely by whatever is in the brain not developing the same as if I had been raised in a safe environment. But I don’t know for sure and I could be wrong! I’d love to know!

    I was prescribed quetiapine (25mg twice a day) 4 years ago for anxiety. I still react badly to trigger sounds (and some words, images and sensations) and feel the usual terrible panic, aggression and anger, but it is significantly less intense than before the medication.

    I discovered the Allergic to Sound website over the weekend when I was trawling through Google trying to find a microwave oven that can have its bleeping muted! Yes, that is one of my triggers! Well, I didn’t find the microwave oven but I am thrilled I found this site. Thank you, Tom, for creating it and filling it with such useful and interesting material.

    Reply
    • Allergic to Sound

      Hi Tallulah, I’m so sorry to hear that you haven been through that. Well done for finding the courage and strength to break free.

      The idea of misophonia being caused/triggered/linked by trauma is a compelling one and I was speaking to someone a couple of years ago (I forget who I’m afraid!) who was looking to do a study into this.

      What we do know now, almost beyond question, is that misophonia is a neurological disorder and this was most recently espoused in Dr Kumar’s excellent study.

      In other words it is likely that we have this ‘built in’. However, that doesn’t completely rule out the possibility that it’s coming to the fore couldn’t be triggered by a traumatic event.

      However just to play devil’s advocate…

      – Many people with misophonia (myself included) didn’t suffer from abuse at childhood. That doesn’t of course preclude the idea of there being a different trauma involved (for example an accidental physical injury).

      – The majority of trigger sounds seem to be unusually specific and common to misophonia sufferers (lip smacking, sniffing, crunching, slurping etc etc). In other words, if the ‘fight-freeze-flight’ reaction is a learned, Pavlovian response you would expect the triggers created by an abuse or trauma scenario to be more varied.

      – Most misophones tend to develop (or at least notice) the condition between the ages of 11 – 13. Potentially it could be argued that what triggers it’s emergence is puberty.

      My own personal belief is that with misophonia our senses/processing of sensory information are simply wired up differently, in much as the same way it is with people with synaesthesia. And in this case, instead of processing sounds/certain visuals ‘normally’ we are super sensitive and experience a physiological response.

      It’s a really interesting comment Tallulah and definitely something I’d like to explore in more detail.

      Reply
  11. Jen

    Hi! I’ve suffered from misophonia for as long as I can remember, but it’s only recently that I’ve discovered that there is a name for my problem – and that I’m not alone, hurrah! Not that I’d wish it on anyone else, but it helps a little.

    For me it started with my best friend when I was a little girl, the sound of her eating would make me angry and upset to the point where I stopped wanting to go to her house to play. We eventually stopped being friends. It’s been the same ever since and has resulted in me ending relationships as an adult. My boyfriend whilst I was at university was a lovely guy with a slightly nervous disposition and a habitual sniff. He would sniff when he got anxious and it would send me into a blind rage – and there was only so long I could keep such a strong feeling under wraps. In the end I had to walk away, for his sake as well as mine (I was scared that one day I would totally lose it and whack him!)

    I’m now struggling more than ever; my current partner has a clicking jaw and meal times are agonising. Just thinking about it fills me with dread and rage and I’m really not sure how to move forward. Sometimes I lay awake at night thinking about the sound it made when he ate ‘that sandwich’ the day before, and how I simply must break it off with him before the next sandwich episode.

    This site is excellent and I’ll read all of its content with interest – but if anyone has any specific advice they can offer then it would be so gratefully received. I feel like I’m fated to live alone in solitude forever!

    Many thanks, Jen from Bristol

    Reply
    • Allergic to Sound

      Hi Jen, thanks for your kind words!

      I totally get the clicking jaw one as well (it’s something my partner does when she yawns). Didn’t realise that one was potentially a trigger for others too.

      This will sound like a really pants piece of advice, but have you tried having the tele or music on during mealtimes with your partner? Without wanting to sound too melodramatic doing this completely changed my life. It’s something to do with the background noise. It’s not so much that it drowns out the triggers (although that does help) it’s that it causes enough distraction in the brain to help mitigate them. Flood the brian with more sound and visual stimuli (not triggers, obviously!) and it does help. Misophonia is always at it’s most ultra powerful in otherwise quiet environments and there’s someone eating/clicking/banging.

      Reply
  12. Cormac Doyle

    Dear Tom

    Thank you for putting together a great website for those with Misophonia.

    I work in mental health and have been treating individuals for a variety of related psychological trauma. I currently have three people who I have treated with EMDR utilising bilaterial music. It is not a cure but on average it reduces the intensity of the auditory irritation from 8/10 to 2/10. I am aware that the recent research from Newcastle University has confirmed that those with Misophonia have a brain that is slightly different to those that don’t. It is such a shame that this condition is not widely known about although I have come across many professional who refuse to accept it existence. I am going to direct those I see to use your website for information and support.

    Again, well done on a great user friendly and informative website.

    Regards

    Cormac

    Reply
    • Allergic to Sound

      Hi Cormac, thank you so much for your kind words, much appreciated. I would love to hear more about your work and will drop you a quick email. Hope that’s ok.

      Reply
  13. Thomas Jones

    Is it genetic? I think it runs in my family. My grandfather, dad, little brother, and I all have it.

    Reply

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