As if misophonia wasn’t enough, many of us suffer from a related condition called misokinesia.
If misophonia is best defined as a ‘hatred’ of certain sounds, misokinesia is probably best defined as a ‘hatred’ of certain movements.
These movements tend to be small and repetitive and often involve someone’s hands or face, or both.
Sufferers feel a combination of frenzied panic and confusion if they can see someone repeatedly touching their face out of the corner of their eye… fidgeting with something… or making other, irregular movements.
Does that sound like you?
If it does, the chances are you have misokinesia. If you already suffer from misophonia and can identify with this, then you almost certainly do.
I first discovered I had this aversion to movement when I was at University.
I’d gone to the cinema with my best friend and we were sat next to each other in the theatre. About 20 minutes into the film, he took a ring off his finger and started twirling it around his hand. He then raised it to his mouth and spent the rest of the film popping it in and out of his mouth.
He did this silently and didn’t make any dramatic or disruptive movements, but to me it felt like my whole world was on red alert. All I could focus on was that irritating movement out of the corner of my eye.
It was so bad that I can’t remember a single thing that happened in the film – I don’t even remember what the film was called. What I do remember, in painstaking detail, is every single minute little movement he made with his hands.
At the time I didn’t know whether to say something or ask him to stop. It was confusing. I felt furious and upset, but I was also aware everyone else in the theatre seemed to be fine with it. No one else had noticed, no-one else seemed bothered.
Because of this the rational part of my mind was saying: “come on now, he’s just fiddling with a bit of jewellery, he’s not interrupting the film in any way. He’s not being noisy or doing anything particularly weird.”
I chatted to his girlfriend about it afterwards and asked her whether she found it annoying when he fidgets or chews his fingernails. She hadn’t really noticed it. Moreover when I explained that I thought I might have an odd mental quirk regarding movements like this, she said that “yes, that does sound a bit strange”.
Even though I didn’t know it had a name at the time, I have memories of suffering from episodes of misophonia when I was 8 or 9 years old. The movement part, the misokinesia, I assumed was somehow related to the sound part – the act of seeing someone eat.
So when I got irritated by people clicking their fingers or making sudden movements I just put it down to me being irritable about certain things. It wasn’t until cinema-gate that I realised that something wasn’t right.
Since then I’ve talked to a number of people, many via this website, who experience these misokinesia (visual) triggers alongside their misophonia (sound) ones.
Some people have reported feeling a sense of slight nausea with their misokinesia as opposed to the blind panic normally associated with misophonia. For others it’s the other way around.
Many people have the same response to both (I fall into this category)… and then there are people who experience one but not the other.
My own, informal, surveying suggests that of the people I’ve communicated with, between a third and half of people with misophonia also have misokinesia. However comprehensive surveys under controlled conditions need to be run to determine the true figure.
Here’s a quick run down of some visual triggers that are sometimes associated with misokinesia:
- Any kind of repetitive face touching (including pulling or playing with facial hair)
- Fidgeting or any unusual hand movements
- Chewing gum or food (specifically the visuals of the mouth contorting, as well as the sound)
There’s a fascinating bit of research a friend of mine is doing into something called ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response). She looking for possible connections between ASMR, misophonia and synaesthesia (synaesthetes often have an inter-sensory experience – for example they might find numbers are represented by colours). I’ve been encouraging her to look into the misokinesia connection as well, because I sometimes have a very physical reaction to certain movements other people make.
On one occasion I almost fell over when someone across the street made a noise and pointed sharply at something near me. I was 12 or 13 years old at the time and felt (and probably looked!) ridiculous. The funny thing is I couldn’t help it, it was if I was being physical jolted.
I’d be really interested to hear if anyone else suffers from misokinesia and if so, how it manifests itself.
As I write this I’m feeling pangs of irrational fury because I can see my work colleague to my left, pulling at his beard. His beard for goodness sake. Hand me the blinkers…