4 Common Misophonia Misconceptions

by | Feb 8, 2018 | Articles | 15 comments

Let’s face it, misophonia is a strange disorder…

Life would be a lot easier if it was as easy to explain as, say, an intolerance to gluten or a hay fever allergy.

Perhaps the biggest misconception is that misophonia is a hatred of sound in general.

The reality is that misophonia trigger sounds are actually very specific.

Most sufferers are fine with background noise, music, people talking and so on. The problem is with certain noises: typically a range of human and repetitive sounds.

It’s the clack clack clacking of someone walking around in heels… or someone quietly (or loudly) sniffing… or someone coughing… eating… chewing.

These are just some of the more typical sounds that can trigger a misophonia episode.

But hang on a second…

Doesn’t everyone hate these ‘irritating’ sounds?

No-one really likes the sound of people slurping or coughing, it’s true.

So when you try to explain misophonia to a non-sufferer they’ll usually say (understandably!) “yeah I find that annoying too, I know what you mean”.

But this is different.

While a non-sufferer might find these trigger sounds annoying or distracting, someone with misophonia will have a reaction that’s extreme and often debilitating.

It can affect every aspect of someone’s work, family and social life.

Many misophones actively seek out solitary professions where they can work in trigger-free surroundings, while others work on coping mechanisms to get through the day. Whether that’s wearing earphones at times or finding a quiet room to work in.

Imagine trying to get on with a mundane task and having someone getting in your face and physically poking you over and over non stop. The feeling during an misophonia episode is that intense and overwhelming.

Are people with misophonia raging psychopaths?

When people talk about misophonia they often talk about rage or anger.

This is perhaps the most ‘shocking’ sounding element of this disorder and it’s easy to see why it causes such distress and confusion.

During an episode they might visualise causing physical violence to the person making the sound. The brain role plays scenarios where they are slapping the food out of their hand… or putting them in a headlock… or even punching them in the face.

The first thing to clarify right away is that it’s extremely rare for someone with misophonia to ever resort to physical violence.

For the vast majority this disorder is a tortured, internal battle. In almost all other ways misophones are rational, intelligent people. They don’t actually want to harm anyone and outside of an episode, when reflecting, they know that the problem lies with the disorder.

If this concept is distressing for non-sufferers to get their heads round, imagine how it feels for someone living with the disorder every single day.

While the media often like to sensationalise the ‘anger’ element it’s actually only a small part of a somewhat complex puzzle. What misophones experience is primarily panic. It’s also fear, confusion, adrenalin and yes, often anger too.

This is because certain sounds trigger the freeze-fight-flight response for misophones. This is the mode our brain subconsciously puts us in when it believes we are in imminent danger.

That means, stress levels increase… the heart races… the body is primed and ready for danger.

While all this is happening the conscious mind tries to catch up is able to rationalise and say: “this person crunching an apple” is not a real threat to me.

That’s why misophones don’t run around punching people or head-butting walls. However the subconscious arousal of the amygdala and freeze-fight-flight still triggers these fear based emotions.

Can’t misophonia just be fixed with exposure therapy or even anxiety medication?

Unfortunately not.

No credible research to date (research and studies performed and monitored in controlled conditions) suggests that exposure therapy has any positive impact, in fact it may put the sufferer in unnecessary distress and exacerbate the problem.

Misophonia is a neurological disorder and as such, while medication may numb the patient temporarily, it’s not an effective treatment.

I hope that clears up some of the confusion around misophonia.

If you’re reading this as a sufferer, don’t worry – you’re NOT crazy.

If you’re reading this as a friend or family member of someone who suffers from misophonia then if there’s one thing you take away from this website, I hope it’s the realisation that misophonia is real and that it affects people deeply. It’s not an ‘overreaction’, it’s a condition that benefits hugely from support and understanding.



15 Comments

  1. Susie

    Thank you for the wonderful insight to this condition. I have misaphonia and I have just discovered that my youngest son, 6 years old is showing signs of it too. With the support of your blog. I can hold my head up hight and embrace this ridiculous…. But ever so real condition and arm him with the skills he needs to get on with his life.
    It’s all about tactics and being clever.
    One point I do need to share that may be of help in the search for an answer to misaphonia.
    I have had it all my life and I am nearly 50. But when ever I experienced happy times in my life like the bliss feeling of being inlove. The misaphonia was somewhat bearable.
    It clouded the intensity of the irrational reactions that come with misaphonia.

    Reply
    • Allergic to Sound

      Hi Susie, you’re very welcome. I’m so glad you’re finding the information useful!

      That’s a lovely insight you share and I agree. In those happier, less stress-addled times the misophonia certainly does seem more bearable.

      Reply
  2. Blanca

    Yes. While for some people a certain sound must be annoying in my case is something unbearable to the point that I nee the sound to stop. I usually try to lesve the place or I cover my ears. It’s that or being reallg rude and asking the person to stop whatever he/she is doing!

    Reply
  3. Angelise

    I am a sufferer of Misophonia, and my twin is too. My mom gets pissed off whenever we try to leave the area of the stimulus. She thinks we are being over dramatic and it hurts. I have to excuse myself from class all the time because computers, loud chewers, and loud sniffers are going to be the death of me.

    Reply
  4. Elise

    I have suffered from Misophonia for as long as I can remember. When I was younger my dad used to think I was being just awkward, this caused a lot of arguments with my parents. Most repetitive sounds seem to be my triggers, and I react even worse when it’s my partner that’s it making the sound. It’s nice that it’s a recognised disorder is some aspects, as family and friends have the opportunity to unseearand me. I just wish there was a ‘cure’ as it massively impacts my life.

    Reply
    • Priscilla

      Elise it sounds as though your mesophonia is costing you dearly in spoiling your most caluable relationships. Have you ever gone for any kind of counselling to get coping strategies? Do you discuss your symptoms openly with your family? It is my daughter and not me that has the mesophonia and my nerves are bad from all the rows caused by my moving my foot or even speaking at all. I do feel for you. It must be awful and isolating. I wish there was more knowledge and understanding of this condition. It has ruined relationships between my daughter and me and between her and her husbland.

      Reply
    • Priscilla

      Elise it sounds as though your mesophonia is costing you dearly in spoiling your most caluable relationships. Have you ever gone for any kind of counselling to get coping strategies? Do you discuss your symptoms openly with your family? It is my daughter and not me that has the mesophonia and my nerves are bad from all the rows caused by my moving my foot or even speaking at all. I do feel for you. It must be awful and isolating. I wish there was more knowledge and understanding of this condition.

      Reply
  5. Kathrine

    I enjoyed your article. “Can’t Misophonia just be fixed with exposure therapy or even anxiety medication” got me thinking for a few minutes and I didn’t even start reading the section. I thought, “No, unfortunately it doesn’t work!” And I remember at the early stages of this disorder, I did think that I could “Just get over it” like everyone including my family would advise me later on down the very windy road that’s lead over a cliff. I slowly developed new triggers, and I would say “aw dammit” every time a new one formed. When the sound of someone eating bothered me, I would stare at them in hopes that my deadly glare would kill them. Unfortunately, I only formed a new trigger to the movement of the jaw and open mouth eating.
    Also, anxiety medication would only cure the anxiety and ignnore the many other emotions felt during an episode. Besides, most of my anxiety is a precursor to the episode. The opening of a chip bag (or any bag containing edibles) makes me anxious because I know what’s about to happen and I know I won’t like it. Plus, in a situation when I can’t just escape, I need to vigorously (that’s definitely the correct adverb) prepare for my impending (though it will only feel like this) doom.

    Reply
  6. Priscilla

    Hi. Thanks for this article a great help. It is my daughter of 43 who has these symptoms and after I had searched and found the diagnosis of mesiophonia she read it and agreed. However, she does rule the roost by means of these symptoms. I can’t speak even because I ‘shriek’. We haven’t sat for a chat for years. No ne can eat beside her. A rustling crisp bag has her in a rage. If I move my foot she rages. She rages at her partner for breathing. He snores so separate bedrooms and even then she says she hears him. Relationships are fraught, non existent really. If she weren’t my daughter I would stop seeing her. I only go round to let the cat out and I’m afraid I hurry away home when she comes in from work. I am at my wits end and am thinking myself os seeking counselling in case I explode back. I daren’t reply to her outbursts if I move my foot. She says I’m speaking back and causing trouble. I fear that an explosion may end our relationship all together as once happened years ago. I am 68 and it is very hard now. Thanks for letting me make this comment. I need some advice.

    Reply
    • Carina

      I’m really sorry to hear your experience, Priscilla. As a misophone myself, I want to say two things: first of all, please understand your daughter is not overreacting on purpose. She can’t help it. We can argue that there could be more positive ways for dealing with her condition, but the distress misophones experience is indeed extreme.
      Second, this is not your fault either. You just happen to make some noises that cause her brain to react as in an allergy. Your daughter has the right to tell you what noises she is triggered with, but no right to disrespect you. From your comments, I gather there are more serious issues in the relationships and your daughter’s mental health than just the sound sensitivity. If she can’t separate anger about the sound with anger with the whole of the person and can no longer see the positive in you, she should probably seek counselling. She seems to be going through a hard time. Just try to be understanding but don’t let her hurt you.

      Reply
  7. Lenice

    I signed up for the free guide, but I haven’t gotten it. Where is it?

    Reply
    • Allergic to Sound

      Hi Lenice, you should receive an email with a link to it. Can you check your spam? If it’s not there can you email me direct and I’ll send it through.

      Reply
  8. Gabriella

    I was recently wondering what it was that caused me to become so irritated and anxious when i heard certain noises (mosting chewing/mouth noises, coughing..etc) Is misophonia a constant thing, or do episodes only occur when exposed to trigger sounds? Because when I don’t hear those sounds, I feel fine.

    Reply
  9. Pat Fabozzi

    thank you, Misconceptions hits the target, now if only I could get my youngsters school to understand!

    Reply
  10. Aishwarya

    Thank you so much for this. It was really helpful and I could relate to it Soo much. I will use this article to spread the awarness about misophonia. Thank you. 🙂

    Reply

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