This week, as I was driving in my car, listening to my baby crying for half an hour, I was inspired to write about something that has come up in therapy several times over the years: misophonia. Misophonia, literally, the hatred of sound, is a condition which causes sufferers to experience strong emotional and/or physical responses to particular sounds. Common trigger sounds include the sound of chewing, swallowing, coughing, crinkling, and other, primarily bodily sounds.
People with misophonia can have reactions to these sounds that range from annoyance to outright rage. In a sense, misophonia is like the opposite of ASMR. (Read my blog post about ASMR here)
I personally have a strong repulsion to my wife’s coughing. I don’t know if this qualifies me for a diagnosis of misophonia, but I have had a few times in our relationship where I became so enraged by her coughing that I have seriously considered spending several days at my parents’ house to get away from it. Most people have certain sounds that annoy them, but misophonia is different in that sufferers typically experience strong reactions that are very difficult to control. In general I am a very friendly, even tempered person, but when my wife gets coughing I feel like I want to scream and break things. This post feels like it has quickly transformed into a rant about my wife’s coughing, but it feels like a good comparison, and the way I am able to relate to people who have misophonia. I want to be ok with this sound, and I want to ignore it, but I just can’t. That’s what distinguishes misophonia from simply disliking certain sounds; the way the sound and paired reactions become all-consuming and unavoidable. If you think you might have misophonia, it might be good to look into getting some help. Along with interventions like using background noise machines, therapy or counseling is often used to help people explore and reduce negative associations paired with trigger sounds.
For more on misophonia check out “The Misophonia Institute” at misophoniainstitute.org
Also, the website www.allergictosound.com/ , which has a blog and support forum for those suffering with misophonia.
Lastly, check out the trailer for this full length documentary in production