If you are a loud chewer. Or you are eating popcorn in the movie theatre. Or if gum is your way to keep your mouth busy. Do not – ever – sit next to my daughter!
Sounds like that grate on her nerves in a way that is sure to elicit a swift response. She is careful who she sits next to at family dinners and doesn’t mind throwing something at her children if she can hear them chewing. Pillows or empty boxes or stuffed animals, lite stuff, but it gets their attention.
There is a name for people who feel this way. It is called Misophonia.
It is a diagnosable disorder where people cannot stand sounds such as chewing, loud breathing, or even pen-clicking.
It was first named as a condition in 2001 after years of skepticism by the medical community. Honestly, I was kind of skeptical myself. I thought my daughter was just being dramatic.
MRI scans of brain activity of people who have Misophonia show that trigger sounds, like breathing or eating, caused their emotional control mechanism to go into overdrive. It even caused an increased heart rate and sweating. So, it’s a very real thing.
Sufferers of Misophonia vary in degree but it’s estimated that about 15% of adults suffer to one degree or another.
It seems to be more common in women than in men but many people just suffer in silence. I can’t imagine someone exploding in rage at another person during a business lunch. They would just grit their teeth, get cranky, and move on as best they can.
Severe cases can cause anxiety and severe depression. Imagine not being able to go to family functions where there is eating. Dating would be an issue. Feeding your children would be painful. You can see where it could turn someone’s life into hell.
My daughter is able to manage her issues herself. Family helps by just being aware and not doing the things we know trigger her. If you know someone with this disorder understand when they need to flee the room. Don’t take it personally. Give them space and let them know that you love them and are there if they need you.
There is no cure for Misophonia. It has only been recognized by the medical community since 2001 and few studies have been done. Severe cases may benefit from anxiety medication or other medical interventions.
I really thought this article was going to be funny. My daughter has a terrific sense of humor and has made her issues easy for the family to deal with. As I researched further I realized that there is a group of people out there that we are laughing at who have a legitimate disorder. I’m not saying don’t laugh, it might lighten the moment if done correctly, but do recognize the issue and don’t poke the bear!