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What is Misophonia, a "Hatred of Sounds"?

Updated on January 22, 2013

Have You Ever Felt a "Fight or Flight" Impulse, Due to Sounds

Have you ever been minding your own business when an obnoxiously loud eater intrudes on your peace of mind. Maybe you are at a movie, it is nice and quiet, then it happens, someone starts in on the popcorn or nachos, maybe they are incessantly crunching their ice. Before long you are more than just distracted from the movie. An intense rage has welled up inside you \ and you know you either have to walk out of the movie, or unleash your fury on the obnoxious chomper.

Maybe you are in class and somebody is tapping over and over again, or God forbid making a clicking sound repeatedly with their pen. You look around and no one else seems to mind, but how can that be? It is the loudest most obnoxious sound you have ever heard, and it is ringing in your ears, demanding your attention. You weigh your options in your head, that is now filled with near uncontrollable rage. I can walk out of the class and risk getting in trouble, or I can walk over there and take that pen they are clicking and jam it in their ear so they can understand my pain, for which I will certainly get in trouble.

Your "hatred of sound", more specifically hatred of certain sounds has driven you near mad, an now you have a choice. "Fight or Flight"?

What is Misophonia or 4S

Characterized by a negative reaction triggered by certain specific sounds, misoponia literally means "hatred of sound". This neurological disorder, also known as 4S - selective sound sensitivity syndrome, can be a very debilitating condition depending on the severity. For those who suffer with this condition, triggers can instantly awaken an intense rage. Do you think you may have misophonia?

Conditions and Symptoms of Misophonia / 4S

According to Dr. Marsha Johnson, Audiologist:

  • Selected "trigger sounds" that elicit strong emotional or physical reactions. The triggers are usually limited to a few specific sounds, and can expand to sounds that are similar to the trigger sounds,
  • The most common sounds that spark a reaction are eating, breathing, clicking, tapping, and smacking noises.
  • People with misophonia can hear even the slightest whisper of a trigger sound, almost as though it was played on a loud speaker.
  • Logic or reason can not change the reactions to triggers, regardless of how intently the patients wishes this so.
  • The onset of this condition is often in childhood or during puberty. Puberty is often the worst time for many patients.
  • In some cases the triggers can turn visual, leading to the same intense reaction.
  • The triggers creates what is described as an intense "fight or flight" impulse.
  • Misophonia can often be misdiagnosed as a variety of psychological conditions, in reality it represents a physiological sequence of reactions.

Video of the "Fight or Flight" Impulse

Common Triggers of Misophonis - 4S

  • Eating Sounds - Chewing, Smacking, Crunching
  • Breathing Sounds - Sniffling, Stuffy Noses, Loud Exhalation
  • Certain Consonants or Letter Groups - Sp, Ck, Spi
  • Certain Enunciation of Words
  • Clearing a Throat or Sounds of a Cold
  • Repetitive Movements - Twirling of Hair, Chewing and Swallowing
  • Objects that Represent the Trigger Sounds

Overcoming Misophonia - 4S

There are no cures for Misophonia, and treatments are, for the most part, experimental. Here is a Hub with more about Misophonia Treatments and Tips for dealing with 4S, based on research for my step son, and what he says works for him. I will edit this hub with a link when I am finished. Isolation seems to be a common practice of many who suffer with this debilitating condition. Though it may avoid the rage caused by triggers, social interaction is vital for human development and happiness. Inform your loved ones, and the people you spend the most time with, about your triggers. If you don't have to hear them all day, your level of tolerance will be higher for those times when you do.

Maybe Next Time You Wont Be a Trigger

The next time you are in public, do everyone a favor and chew with your mouth closed. Not only do people not like "See Food", nor want to watch your digestive process in action. There may be someone who is quietly trying to hold in their growing anger towards your, seemingly innocent, but altogether enraging lack of manners. Then they may be able to enjoy a meal in public without having to walk out, or worse yet engaging the fight mentality as pictured in the video above. For those of us suffering, we realize this is probably too much to ask, so grab yourself a pair of noise cancelling headphones and enjoy a trigger free meal.

Do You Have Misophonia?

Which of the below best describes you or your loved ones?

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    • ICarrie profile image

      Carrie Jones 5 years ago from Georgia

      Oh I can definitely relate Lwelch and I believe many others can too! Eating sounds...just about all of them...make a lot of meals almost unbearable for me. Loved your hulk smash comment!! That is exactly the feeling isn't it!? :)

      Did you see the next hub on coping with Misophonia? There are some great tips there that may help you too. So glad you found this hub interesting and thank you for taking the time to share!

    • Lwelch profile image

      Lena Welch 5 years ago from USA

      I guess I fall in this group. Eating noises like smacking make me want to scream. I hate it. I can't tell you why, it is just plain bad. Awful. NEEDS TO END! Hulk SMASH!