Tag Archive: misophonia

Why do certain sounds bother some people?

Photo credit: LuAnn Snawder Photography licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Some people are bothered by common sounds that don’t bother others, such as noise from chewing. The technical name for this disorder is “misophonia.”

For many years, misophonia has been thought to be a psychological problem, but new research shows that the problem may be neurological in origin. People with misophonia have differences seen on brain scans from those without misophonia.

Medical science is replete with examples of diseases thought initially to be due to psychological causes, but later found to have biological bases. For example, stomach ulcers were long thought to be caused by stress, with a contribution from spicy food or alcohol, but then they were found to be caused by bacteria.

In the auditory field, hyperacusis–a sensitivity to sound, in which noises that don’t bother others are perceived as painful by those with this condition–was also long thought to be psychological. Then researchers found pain fibers in the auditory nerves, and the biological basis of this condition was better understood.

So kudos to the researchers studying misophonia. For those who suffer from this disorder, having the science world focus on identifying the biological basis for the problem may be the first step to treating it.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

NPR on misophonia

Photo credit: Barney Moss licensed under CC BY 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

There are three main auditory disorders: hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. But there’s a lesser-known fourth one, misophonia. Of these, only hearing loss is well understood, with the others understood in decreasing order as listed. And misophonia is often dismissed as a mood disorder.

This piece by NPR sheds some light on misophonia, the little-known and least understood auditory disorder that’s marked “by intense emotion like rage or fear in response to highly specific sounds, particularly ordinary sounds that other people make.” High on the list of hated sounds are mouth sounds like slurping and chewing, which makes life difficult for people with misophonia.

One hopes that other media pay attention to disorders like misophonia and approach the topic as thoughtfully as NPR has.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

Living with misophonia

Photo credit: rawpixel.com from Pexels

Natalie Reilly, NZ Herald, writes about living with misophonia, the “hatred of sound.” Eating sounds are particularly enraging for Reilly, and she confides that she hates hearing her husband eat. Which could be a real problem, except he suffers from misophonia as well and, well, he hates the sounds she makes when she eats. And so this couple have found a solution to maintain marital bliss: one eats in front of the tv, the other eats in the kitchen.

Does the sound of chewing or pen clicking make you enraged?

You are not alone.  Misophonia is a disorder marked by “a hatred of sounds such as eating, chewing or repeated pen clicking.”  It’s not well understood, but the known universe just got a lot bigger thanks to a team of researchers from Newcastle University who have evidence that enraging noises are caused by a brain connection overdrive.

The lead researcher, Dr Sukhbinder Kumar of the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University and the Wellcome Centre for NeuroImaging at University College London, said that, “[f]or many people with misophonia, this will come as welcome news as for the first time we have demonstrated a difference in brain structure and function in sufferers.”   With this news suffers may see the end of one problem they often face; namely, the casual dismissal of their complaints by medical professionals.  As Dr. Kumar notes, “[t]his study demonstrates the critical brain changes as further evidence to convince a sceptical medical community that this is a genuine disorder.”

 

A tragic case of misophonia

woman-pic

She could hear everything, and it cost her her life.  Joyce Cohen writes about Dr. Michelle Lamarche Marrese, a “beautiful and brilliant, a Russian historian with several advanced degrees and the author of an acclaimed academic book on women’s property rights,” who committed suicide this past October.  Friends assumed her suicide was due to depression over her “unraveling marriage,” by Cohen knew the actual reason behind Marrese’s untimely death: “it was her hidden battle with misophonia — or ‘selective sound sensitivity syndrome.’”  How did Cohen know this?  Because Marrese emailed her “desperately seeking advice after [Cohen] wrote a story on the mysterious condition for the New York Times,” and they “corresponded extensively.”

Click the link to read more about misophonia and Marrese’s battle with the disease.

Thanks to Charles Shamoon for the link.