Have you ever imagined that the sounds you dislike, like rubbing of chalk against the blackboard or shifting of a table or clicking a pen can make you outraged? This is the situation with misphonia. It is characterized by a strong hatred or dislike to certain sounds that can get a person to panic or rage.

Misphonia is also known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome, and is initiated by some triggers. People suffering from misphonia react abnormally irritated or aggressive to some typical sounds which are common for the rest of the people. Very less people are aware of this condition. Here we are describing this condition to make it easier for you to understand this disorder.

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Misphonia is not associated with any sort of hearing impairment and is also not associated with hyperacusis (the condition in which people are sensitive to higher volumes). Misphonia is characterized by excessively negative emotional and physiological responses of the affected indivisual to certain sounds.

This extreme negative response can also be responsible for affecting the daily life of the individual and the daily activities. It also affects your social life as you would like to avoid going to public places like restaurants and shopping malls, where you can generally find people making any of such noises. Even worse, you can also react to the person making such sounds by fighting with them physically or verbally, or can run away from the situation.

Triggers and symptoms

misophonia chalk on blackboard

The literal meaning of this word is hatred to sounds. However, the suffering individual does not hate all sounds; they have sensitivity to some certain sounds. They can also be sensitive to visual triggers. These sounds are generally the sounds which normal people ignore and are in background for them. But people with misphonia cannot ignore these sounds are strongly affected. The triggers that can elicit the response in this condition differ from person to person. These are known as the trigger sets. The trigger sets of each individual can also show variations over time.

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The response of such person is elicited when they are exposed to any of the triggers from their own trigger set. These responses can range from mild discomfort to strong annoyance to severe rage. While encountering a trigger event, the person can also enter into fights with the person creating the noise and can become defensive or offensive or agitated.

It is difficult for a normal person to understand misphonia. For simplifying, the person may be asked to imagine the sound created by scratching of a fingernail against a blackboard. Almost everyone hates that noise and tells the person to stop it. Misphonia is similar but a much more irritated response from the suffering individual. It is a very severe dislike with a strong negative emotion linked to it. Misphonia can actually make the affected individual attack the person or get into a fight with him who is creating noises.

Often, the persons creating these noises are the closest ones to the person suffering from misphonia. So they tend to ignore such persons and thus spoil the relationship with these persons. This hampers the personal lives of the person alongwith social life.

The people around you can help cope up with misphonia by reducing the amount of triggers or changing the environment. You friends and family members can help you and support you with the same.

People suffering from misphonia do not generally want to disclose the fact as this will change the behaviours of other people towards them and will act as a limiting factor in some conditions. However, the fact is that not expressing this disorder with result in misunderstandings about one’s nature and behaviours and will be a greater reason for conflicts.

The increased discomfort is also due to less awareness of the condition. Even if the person is suffering from this disorder, they do not realise it and cannot prevent trigger sets therefore, causing repeated episodes.

Misophonia – treatment

The exact cause behind this condition is not known and therefore it doesn’t have any completely effective treatment. Currently more research is being done on the topic and new treatment opportunities are being explored. This disorder is not considered as a discrete disorder and therefore there is less awareness regarding this.

Some people prefer avoiding the triggers to prevent the associated stress. While some think that repeated exposure will reduce the negative response which is initiated by it. However, neither of these is effective enough for the long term. Some other currently employed methods include neurofeedback, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), psychotherapeutic hypnotherapy, sequent repatterning therapy, etc.

Some methods to avoid sound exposure and sound masking are employed which can prevent initiation of symptoms. One or more than one methods can be used to avoid the associated problems. One can try various combinations of methods which can help avoid the triggering of condition.

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