a feeling of wanting to punch people when I heard them eating
February 6, 2017 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Researchers have discovered a biological basis for misophonia (previously): "Brain imaging revealed that people with the condition have an abnormality in the emotional control mechanism which causes their brains to go into overdrive on hearing trigger sounds."

The full text of the study was published last week in Current Biology (open access): The Brain Basis for Misophonia.
posted by amnesia and magnets (79 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
"It was only after I searched on the internet for ‘hearing people eat makes me want to punch them’ that I heard of misophonia"

I love the Internet sometimes.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:51 PM on February 6, 2017 [13 favorites]


My mother used to ask my father if he could please stop 1) chewing and 2) breathing. He usually pointed out that to do so would result in his death. But anyway, at least I come by my hatred of mouth noises naturally.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:56 PM on February 6, 2017 [8 favorites]


This is so, so heartening and important that there's research to base this on. Count me among the afflicted when it comes to hearing others chew their food loudly. Thank you for sharing!
posted by knownassociate at 12:59 PM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


Does it also cause you to hate mustard and harry potter? Because there's a lot of things this would explain about my wife.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:00 PM on February 6, 2017 [8 favorites]


Extremely loud and sudden noises (like audio feedback) turn me in a matter of milliseconds into a rage monster. There is almost nothing I can do about it and no amount of explaining to the sound guy in whose general direction I just screamed a string of profanities that it wasn't directed at him, per se, will convince him otherwise.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:06 PM on February 6, 2017 [4 favorites]


Oooh - another condition that I've had all my life that I didn't realise had a name. Cool!
posted by YAMWAK at 1:07 PM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


nothing will drive me into a rage faster than hearing someone making gross and/or loud eating noises and even just the thought of it right now makes me feel like throwing up!!!

my sister and i used to get into screaming matches as kids because i complained so frequently about her lip-smacking noises while she ate, and in college there were times i was studying at a cafe or library or something and had to actually get up and leave because of someone's eating noises. i didn't find out until a year or two ago that misophonia is a real thing, and it makes me feel sooo much less weird/high-strung knowing that
posted by burgerrr at 1:11 PM on February 6, 2017 [4 favorites]


Styrofoam squeaking. Sets. My. Teeth. On. Edge.
And, yeah, the sound of people eating can be off-putting.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:12 PM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


I think this is an interesting study. There are some issues with it. I am not surprised by the overall finding of increased activity in a major emotional circuit in people who have strong emotional reactions to these sorts of sounds, but then again that finding is also in a way tautological and has a major chicken and/or egg issue. I also find it highly problematic that they used different questions in the scaling task for the two groups. I can't imagine why they thought that was a good idea, and this would totally bias the answers to the questions and even possibly the objective measurements. Also there are the general issues with fMRI interpretation especially with acoustic stimuli. But overall, totally interesting.

I think the times I have really seen this issue in clinic - like a true response of absolute panic to certain sounds and not just a moderate annoyance or cringeyness, it has almost always been within a constellation of other sensory processing type things, and I'm not sure I am convinced that this is a standalone diagnosis in itself.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:13 PM on February 6, 2017 [19 favorites]


The thing that always gets me is how it instantly goes way beyond annoyance and into a sense of almost overwhelming urgency and desperation. I'm most piqued by the sound of a person tapping their pen against a table: When I hear it, I want to reach over and grab the pen to stop the sound, but I also want to throw myself out the window as I'm doing so, because my brain is so overwhelmed that it feels like throwing myself out the window is the only way to ensure I will never have to hear someone tapping their pen against a table ever again.

I used to date a guy who relentlessly drummed with all manner of writing utensils and eventually I just had to start clapping my hands over my ears whenever he started, because I couldn't stop myself from freaking the fuck out for long enough to do anything else. *shivers*
posted by amnesia and magnets at 1:13 PM on February 6, 2017 [20 favorites]


Extremely loud and sudden noises (like audio feedback) turn me in a matter of milliseconds into a rage monster.

this is where i wonder about the relationship between misophonia and hyperacusis because loud/shrill/grating noises send me into a homicidal rage instantly but chewing/breathing is mostly okay unless it's really egregiously smackety slobbery slurpy gobbling or mucuousy wet breathing.

frex, the hilarious CRONCH CRONCH noises when your character eats fruit in dishonored 1&2, i find that sound frankly delightful and entertaining. but i imagine most chewophobes would not like it very much.

but i have severe hyperacusis on the side of my head that has a thrilling wealth of nerve damage and i always assumed it would be similar in cause to whatever causes misophonia.

why is the human body so fucking weird and gross and flawed
posted by poffin boffin at 1:14 PM on February 6, 2017 [7 favorites]


The thing that always gets me is how it instantly goes way beyond annoyance and into a sense of almost overwhelming urgency and desperation.

yep it's like 100% immediate fight or flight response panicking nauseous awfulness
posted by burgerrr at 1:15 PM on February 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


why is the human body so fucking weird and gross and flawed

Intelligent design?
posted by njohnson23 at 1:17 PM on February 6, 2017 [18 favorites]


also that super fun thing that happens when a very loud horrible noise makes me instantly nauseous as well as wildly enraged, i love that, it's the best thing, it is my favourite.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:18 PM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


but i have severe hyperacusis on the side of my head that has a thrilling wealth of nerve damage and i always assumed it would be similar in cause to whatever causes misophonia.

My opinion is that the two are actually probably mostly totally unrelated. Misophonia is probably much higher level, involving, as this study posits, abnormal processing in some emotional circuit. The fact that there are certain 'trigger' sounds is very odd and something I cannot explain, but my feeling is that the response may not have that much to do with acoustics of these sounds themselves but rather their broader context or meaning.

Hyperacusis on the other hand is probably mostly a more peripheral problem, and is probably usually the result of damage, either within the ear itself or with auditory nerves relatively low in the brain.

One likely issue with this study that's related to this differentiation is that the levels they used were probably pretty high, since you have to play sounds above the level of the relatively loud MRI machine. They didn't talk about this as far as I can tell, but it's worth noting that it's a confounding issue.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:20 PM on February 6, 2017 [4 favorites]


I seriously think I have the opposite of this - like I can go into a super content happy hypnosis state when I hear crinkly-squeeky-skrunchy-gurgly-scratchy sounds like styrofoam or eating or chalkboard. I also like loud distorted and feedbacky and machine noises. I'm probably a pod person TBH.
posted by idiopath at 1:35 PM on February 6, 2017 [11 favorites]


I'm tired of everything being pathologized. Yes, this makes some people's lives miserable. But it doesn't mean they are broken or defective. Who knows what other characteristics with which this is associated? Strong emotional reactions to sound render the world a very different place experientially. How does this come out in art or writing?

I also am pretty sure that I have some non-debilitating level of this or a similar issue. It would explain why certain noises make me literally feel physically ill, and why I've been fleeing them since early childhood. Most people around me do not seem to get that when I say a noise makes me sick, that my chest gets tight and I feel like I'm struggling to breathe in its presence, that it's anything more than a persnickety hissy fit.

But even though it would make my life easier, it's not debilitating enough for me to want to numb the entire mechanism by which it works. Some sounds are glorious. I have ASMR, and that seems like magic on the right day. How do I know they're not related? What part of my auditory experience would I give up to not suffer the really unpleasant part of noises which make me feel awful?

I know for some sufferers this makes life basically horrible. And I am glad there are researchers looking into how to improve their lives. But I really hate the way that a tiny box of characteristics is defined as "normal" and by implication, "correct" and everyone else becomes defective and in need of normalization.
posted by allium cepa at 1:48 PM on February 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


allium: where it is helpful is that if it is medically justified then it may be possible to get some considerations in wider life. E.g. keeping one's office space to oneself hopefully.
posted by biffa at 1:57 PM on February 6, 2017 [11 favorites]


I wonder if there's any relationship between having misophonia and being susceptible to ASMR?
posted by twsf at 1:58 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm probably a pod person TBH.

It sounds more likely that you are someone receptive to ASMR.
posted by tocts at 1:58 PM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's a matter of pathologizing things or people. I think it's a matter of there finally being a measurable, actual physical etiology to a behavior that a lot of people misinterpret as selfishness, or immaturity, or entitlement. I had the misfortune to grow up in a family of noisy eaters (as in, very noisy eaters) and my fury at the constant lip smacking was viewed as evidence that I was a difficult child or a spoiled brat. To make it worse, my family would often deliberately exaggerate their chewing noises, presumably to show me how stupid I was being, which of course increased my distress, which of course increased their certainty that I was a brat, repeat ad nauseam. But it wasn't just being willful or bratty; it really caused me significant distress. Still does. Discovering a biological basis for the fight or flight response some people get to trigger sounds will help people, not pathologize them in the sense that they'll now be thought of as defective.
posted by holborne at 2:09 PM on February 6, 2017 [27 favorites]


biffa - OK, true. I'd kill for a tiny, private office. And a little bit of understanding and tolerance would go a long way.

But even that runs some risk. If you can be diagnosed, then perhaps there is reason not to hire you, as your "special needs" pose an "unreasonable burden" on a business.

There's no winning.
posted by allium cepa at 2:10 PM on February 6, 2017


holborne - I expect it will do both. They're not mutually exclusive.
posted by allium cepa at 2:12 PM on February 6, 2017


Sorry, allium cepa, then I don't understand your point. Do you take the position that physiologically caused disorders shouldn't be diagnosed and treated because someone might discriminate against people who suffer from those disorders?
posted by holborne at 2:17 PM on February 6, 2017 [6 favorites]


mods will I get banned if I post this link to this thread and pretend it's something else

(I am a bad person)
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:19 PM on February 6, 2017


holborne - sorry for being unclear. I'm all for better understanding of our selves. I'm all for developing the knowledge and capability to change our selves - physically, psychologically - if that's what an individual desires.

I am against pathologizing differences. You referred to this as a disorder. That implies that the bodies/minds of people who experience this are "not ordered". This inherently presupposes a narrow definition of "normal", and by extension, correct, or right.

I take issue not with providing the means for people to make their lives better. I take issue with how our greater understanding of the human body is resulting in a narrower definition of what is defined as acceptable, and in how we literally label any characteristics falling outside of this increasingly narrow definition as abnormal or broken.
posted by allium cepa at 2:27 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


(on review).

I'm way off on a personal tangent here, and so I'll give it a rest.

It would be great to understand why some noises affect me as they do.

It would be nice to have the option to take more control of that.

It would be wonderful not to have another standard defined such that I inherently fall short of being a full-stack human.
posted by allium cepa at 3:08 PM on February 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


My father had Tourette's. A childhood of being constantly bombarded with ticks and noises left me a walking timebomb. To this day I refuse to be within earshot or eyesight of someone chewing gum. And with your mouth open? You will be lucky to escape with your life...
posted by jim in austin at 3:28 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


“We now have evidence to establish the basis for the disorder through the differences in brain control mechanism in misophonia. This will suggest therapeutic manipulations and encourage a search for similar mechanisms in other conditions associated with abnormal emotional reactions.”

The language of science is not always comforting to those who suffer. Hopefully the results of ongoing study will be quick and effective.
posted by Revvy at 3:28 PM on February 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


Am I missing the methodology in that study? It's my understanding that misophonia has no standard diagnostic criteria (correct me if I'm wrong), so how did they select their test subjects?
posted by ernielundquist at 3:31 PM on February 6, 2017


Am I missing the methodology in that study? It's my understanding that misophonia has no standard diagnostic criteria (correct me if I'm wrong), so how did they select their test subjects?

Self-report. I'm not super bothered by this as I don't know how else you would have done it.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:48 PM on February 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


I love that this is being studied. I could care less if someone calls it a disorder or a superpower. I just want to be able to point to something scientific when I tell my husband "No, no, when I say your snoring makes me want to kill you, I mean I really WANT TO KILL YOU..." Eeeeeeek. I freak myself out sometimes. It helped so much when I found out (on MetaFilter!) there was such a thing as misophonia. Understanding what it is enables me to be a little calmer and more objective about it.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:51 PM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


I am a very loud eater and a very loud breather and is there a name for fuck you for getting mad at me for being alive?
posted by 256 at 4:19 PM on February 6, 2017 [8 favorites]


I always just preferred to blame the loud eaters because how is it possible in the twenty-first century to be a grown-ass adult who has not learned how to chew with your mouth closed
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:22 PM on February 6, 2017 [12 favorites]


> To make it worse, my family would often deliberately exaggerate their chewing noises

The worst thing about it is that there are only really two responses if you ever fail to keep it a secret, either people retaliate to the perceived slight, or you make them self conscious about something as basic as eating. There was an article in The Observer on Sunday about this where the author made a game attempt to joke about how stressful it became for him being the source of the noises. I remember conversations with my mum where I desperately tried to convince her that it was entirely my problem, but I'm still terrified of letting a negative emotion flit across my face at dinner because of the distress it'll provoke.
posted by lucidium at 4:27 PM on February 6, 2017 [6 favorites]


To be slightly more reasoned about it, I think that people should generally be comfortable asking people for accommodations to their personal issues, but that when you are asking people to change how they eat or breathe, no, that is a bridge to far. This is now officially your own problem to solve.
posted by 256 at 4:32 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


I am a very loud eater and a very loud breather and is there a name for fuck you for getting mad at me for being alive?

I don't know -- is there a name for or deliberately being a dick to an eight-year-old?
posted by holborne at 4:34 PM on February 6, 2017 [6 favorites]


I am a very loud eater and a very loud breather and is there a name for fuck you for getting mad at me for being alive?

Well, in the disability community there's an increasing understanding that people may have conflicting needs for accommodations that just can't be resolved. For example, at autism conferences it's been common for some time to have a low-stimulus room (quiet with low light level) that people can retreat to if they're getting overwhelmed by sensory input. It's only more recently that some events have been adding a high-stimulus room that people can go to if they're not getting enough sensory input, where they can stim actively and loudly or jump on a rebounder or roll around on a yoga ball or whatever it is that helps them deal with hypostimulation.

So basically it's a matter of everyone needing to recognize that we all have different needs that sometimes don't fit well together and trying to hold onto some compassion and empathy in figuring out how to best deal with that.

Or you could just go straight to "fuck you", I suppose.
posted by Lexica at 4:35 PM on February 6, 2017 [35 favorites]


I don't know -- is there a name for or deliberately being a dick to an eight-year-old?

I would love to know because, when I was eight, my father was always yelling at me for eating and breathing too loudly.
posted by 256 at 5:07 PM on February 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have this. I can't stand hearing people smack their mouths while eating - crunching noises are fine, but please don't smack on something wet and chewy around me with your mouth open. Gum chewing is the worst because it doesn't end and you can hear the saliva build up in people's mouths while they smack away.

I wonder to what extent this is cultural, because (and I say this as a person of Chinese descent) most Chinese people smack their mouths quite loudly while eating. I grew up in the US, but my parents smack their mouths loudly while eating, and despite growing up with it, at some point - I don't know when - it started to really annoy me. Similarly, Japanese people have this loud noodle slurping thing which I'm actually fine with, but I can see that being annoying. Having misophonia to chewing noises while living in China must be pretty bad.

For me at least, hearing my own chewing noises doesn't bother me at all, so it must be similar to how you can't tickle yourself. And I also get hella ASMR - although obviously not from chewing noises. I think part of it stems from being able to "feel" someone chewing and the saliva building up in someone else's mouth. For lack of a better word, it's like you "feel" their mouth and tongue and saliva. And it's quite revolting to "feel" the mouth of someone we aren't attracted to... A mild relief for me is to chew gum at the same time as I hear someone else chewing, perhaps because I can trick myself into thinking it's my own mouth noises.

I actually had a coworker who sat right next to me and smacked his mouth loudly while eating - it drove me crazy but I put up with it during breakfast and lunch - but then he started chewing gum constantly which basically drove me nuts all day long. I even wrote an anonymous AskMe about it! Eventually I just had to privately tell him it was entirely my problem and asked him to please stop chewing loudly, which, bless his heart, he did.
posted by pravit at 5:21 PM on February 6, 2017 [9 favorites]


hearing people eat makes me want to punch them

I was sort of assuming that everyone felt that way at some point in their lives, and then had to go through the slow toilsome process of getting used to it through sheer mental concentration on the hideous sounds of their family's mouth noises filling the dining room every evening, demanding both attention and revulsion, rendering conscious thought impossible, the experience becoming nauseatingly familiar, transcendentally horrific, and then, years later, eventually getting over it.
posted by sfenders at 5:28 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


My partner suffered horribly from misophonia for a long time. It was pretty destructive to many of his relationships (including his close family, friends, roommates etc). There were people he would say were his friends that he actually couldn't stand to be around for, what seemed to me to be, most of the time.
When he got on Lexapro for his anxiety, this issue all but vanished. Some things still bother him but he no longer goes into a murderous rage. Honestly, I'd recommend some kind of antidepressant/anxiety med if this issue is torturing you and you're looking for solutions. Or if you tend towards depression/anxiety anyway.
posted by bobobox at 5:36 PM on February 6, 2017 [4 favorites]


Crunching celery . . . murther. murther most foul.
posted by exlotuseater at 5:42 PM on February 6, 2017


THANK GOD

now I can thrust this sort of research under people's noses whenever they give me lip after I ask them to stop chewing so goddamn loudly
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:12 PM on February 6, 2017


"they found out why you go into a blind rage, turn green, and smash things every time you hear me crunching on something tasty in the kitchen"
-my husband when I sent him the NYT article last week

(Let the record show I am not the Hulk, it's not every time he or others eat, and I usually leave the room, or cover my ears, when it bothers me)
posted by paradeofblimps at 6:14 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


Thanks to having a partner with mild misophonia, now I can't eat chips in the breakroom at work without feeling extremely self-conscious.
posted by redsparkler at 6:23 PM on February 6, 2017


If it's not really personal, why do these kinds of little disconnects still seem to make people so irrationally, hatefully angry on a personal level? It's all a mess of people's clashing idiosyncrasies these days. I had a friend who had these kinds of issues once, she got them under control with medication, but then felt so ashamed of herself for gaining weight on the medicine, she gave it up even though it made her happier and her relationships better. You get crap coming or going no matter what you do. I always try to eat quietly but that's probably because I always felt a little like a guest trying to be on his best behavior after I moved in with my grandparents as a kid. I think most people try to be considerate about these things, but it's not always possible to accommodate everybody's crazy little quirks without conflicts arising. I feel crazy self conscious about making food noise but I don't get the personal enmity to it. I guess that's the fight part of that fight or flight response. If you come to feel somebody's mouth noises are a survival threat, I guess it's hard not to hate them a little, even if you should know better.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:26 PM on February 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


I was so grateful when I first learned this is a real thing and that I am not crazy or possessed by something horrible. I still have all the feelings that go with it - the intense frustration and panic, followed by the shame and the realization that I can't tell (most) people what's going on because this is still a thing that only a relative handful of people have heard of and they're going to thing I'm mean or crazy or both, which makes me more frustrated and terrified that it's never going to stop .... it's a whole spiral.

And yes, self-conscious of my own chewing sounds, even though they don't bother me. I always worry that someone around me is also secret sufferer.

On the bright side, I was finally able to use the science to explain to a family member that I was not just picking on them for chewing gum all he time (with open mouth and great gusto) and because it was published in an article they finally believed me and started trying to remember to give the gum a rest around me. It's done a lot for our relationship.
posted by bunderful at 7:15 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


But what's the German word for this?

Etwas etwas fressen faustschlag etwas ?
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 7:18 PM on February 6, 2017


I have misophonia for tapping/pen clicking. I'm actually not sure how they conducted the study without people fleeing the room. I hope the subjects were compensated generously.
posted by delight at 7:24 PM on February 6, 2017


Shit, you guys would love PTSD. Loud bangs make me drop to one knee and clutch for my invisi-rifle. Suuuuucks.

I imagine this is calling to the same part if the amygdala.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 7:26 PM on February 6, 2017 [8 favorites]


I have mild hyperacusis that sometimes gets worse after pronged exposure to loud music. One time I was walking down Grant Ave in North Beach, SF and there was a small percussion ensemble playing on the sidewalk. I covered my ears because it was loud and the snare player proceeded to bang his snare extra hard and move it towards my head. Many times since have I fantasized about grabbing the stick from him and shoving it straight through the head of his drum.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:13 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


My boss occasionally eats in my office when we are working together on a project (working in my office is a daily event. His eating is more like weekly). He always asks first and the only time I've asked him to stop was when he was eating really smelly beef jerky and I don't know why I feel compelled to grant him permission. Or maybe I do but it's complicated and deeply embedded.

I waver between wanting to kill him and wanting to put my head down on my desk and cry. The only thing more upsetting to me is when he needs to blow his nose but won't ask for a tissue or go to his office and get one. The men on either side of my office regularly snarf up loogies and that also makes me want to cry.

Okay the noises are almost intolerable to me but god DAMN I never want to be near another man who passes horribly smelly gas and acts all nonchalant. Please, someone, explain to me why I pretend not to notice when inside I'm gagging and my eyes are burning?
posted by janey47 at 9:40 PM on February 6, 2017


The worst thing about it is that there are only really two responses if you ever fail to keep it a secret, either people retaliate to the perceived slight, or you make them self conscious about something as basic as eating.

I need something more strongly worded than just self-consciousness because hi, that's my childhood with my mother who i guess has misophonia but is also An Asian Parent, so naturally it's my fault. I never realised how much it impacted my self-esteem until I started making my way in the world and no one has ever noticed my chewing.

consequently my favourite foods are soft easy foods.
posted by cendawanita at 10:13 PM on February 6, 2017


Misphonia and taking prednisone is a real treat. Even at the best of times the prednisone made me so ragey I was overwhelmed with the urge to tell people all the things they were doing wrong. Being trapped in a bus or train with someone making smacking slurping mouth noises and, oh my, they are lucky to still be alive.

I am a true cat lady spinster. Cannot bear the sound of another human breathing so no interest in marriage but I sleep best when I can hear the kitties purring.If I can't sleep and they didn't come to bed with me, I will seek them out. They are usually unsympathetic to my special snowflake needs.
posted by kitten magic at 10:27 PM on February 6, 2017 [4 favorites]


Dogs are very observant of their owners' interactions with other people, new research suggests.

Scientists. Always stumbling across what we already know.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:39 PM on February 6, 2017


I have misophonia, and the motherfucker in the cube next to me at work just got a mechanical keyboard for his computer.
posted by old_growler at 10:59 PM on February 6, 2017


For those who have a hard time in the workplace, I highly recommend some shooting range ear muffs. They look like fancy noise-cancelling headphones so your coworkers will never even realize you don't have headphones on. And, if you want music, you can just a stick a pair of earbuds in your ears and put these on over them. They are tight and get a little uncomfortable after long periods of wear, but they can be just what you need when a coworker starts making loud crunching/smacking/etc noises as they indulge their late afternoon noisy snack vices. The best part for me is that I don't have to interact with the computer in any way -- no itunes, figuring out what to listen to, etc. You can just pick them up and put them on and suddenly all the sounds are gone (or at least hugely diminished).
posted by treepour at 11:38 PM on February 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's funny: I have a pretty high tolerance for gross body stuff. I grew up in a primarily medical/health-care family and, although my Latino upbringing means that personal cleanliness is an affect-laden tactic for escaping the 'dirty immigrant' narrative, I can deal with the sights and smells and textures of our fleshy materiality when I need to. But body *sounds* (especially eating-related mouth sounds) make me instantly homicidal. I have memories as a kid of being in the car with my mother and suffering quietly while she would loudly masticate some chewing gum; I remember seriously contemplating opening the door at a stoplight or just doing a duck-and-roll. Perhaps not coincidentally, I'm a trained musician, a college prof in music, a clubber, and someone who is consciously engaged with sound 99% of the time.
posted by LMGM at 1:03 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Just to have a word to put to this all is a blessing.
posted by one weird trick at 3:38 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


I used to date a guy who relentlessly drummed with all manner of writing utensils

Oh dear... I'm afraid that's me. I'm always moving, tapping feet and drumming. In fact, I find it hard to think unless some part of me is moving. Part of it is to do with the dam' music and rhythms that are always playing in my head, and which seem to need a way out. Sometimes, if I try to stop moving for more than a couple of minutes, I feel like I'm going to explode...

Drives my wife mad.

And that dam' head music... people ask me, a musician, why I don't listen to music much on the my phone or when I'm at my computer. What with the head music and the tinnitus that results from a misspent youth, the last thing I need is a third source of noise distracting me...
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 3:53 AM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


Squealing babies.

You know how small children reach a phase where they aren't verbal yet, but they have discovered that they can squeal (loudly as fuck) to express themselves? I'm not talking about crying - it's actually more of a squeal of delight (or surprise, or general "whoa").

Anyway. That sound assaults my very consciousness. It is piercing. It instantly blots out everything else - my peripheral vision actually fades when I hear it. It's like a klaxon right next to my ear. I have to stop eating, talking, and thinking until it's over. I basically just wince involuntarily, close my eyes, and let this pure auditory anxiety consume me, because there's nothing else I can do.

Squealing babies, man.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:53 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Self-report. I'm not super bothered by this as I don't know how else you would have done it.

I'm asking where you're seeing this. I cannot see anything in the study explaining how they selected their subjects. What did I miss? I read the study, I searched for key words, and I'm not finding anything.

I understand that the study confirms the experiences a lot of people, including me, have, but that's a pretty important piece of information to leave out.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:00 AM on February 7, 2017


I cannot see anything in the study explaining how they selected their subjects. What did I miss? I read the study, I searched for key words, and I'm not finding anything.

It's on page 7 of this PDF, linked under 'Supplemental Information' after the full text of the study: "The misophonic subjects were recruited by putting an advertisement on a misophonia support website."
posted by amnesia and magnets at 8:13 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


Similar to what the article describes, I find that my brain has two misophonia reaction levels:

Level I: Flight Response - reserved for people who don't know how much they are offending me (I just leave)
Level II: White Hot Nuclear Rage Fight Response - for those who know it bothers me but "choose" to do the thing (I yell / make demands / consider murdering people with my hands)

My brain won't let me excuse people who know about my condition even though I know rationally that no one is TRYING to make me suffer. So I've chosen to stop telling people. It REALLY helps me. I read an analogy for brain plasticity that said reactions are like sled paths down a snowy mountain - the more times you take a path, the more entrenched it gets, making a new path is possible but hard and it will always be easier to go down path most often taken. I've been trying to build up my own little do-not-actually-murder-people path.

I do 100% get a very vicarious thrill from watching the NBC version of Hannibal since he gets to give into the desire to kill rude people, though.
posted by skrozidile at 8:54 AM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


I would love to know because, when I was eight, my father was always yelling at me for eating and breathing too loudly.

Then maybe the fuck you should be directed to your father and not to some imaginary people who told you not to breathe too loudly, none of whom are posting here.
posted by holborne at 9:10 AM on February 7, 2017 [4 favorites]


I wonder if there's a similar thing for vision. I lose my shit if there is something moving or blinking in my peripheral vision. The business across the street used to leave their flashing neon sign on overnight and I could see it out of the corner of my eye whenever I sat on my couch. I (politely) asked them to turn it off when they closed and they did.

Same thing when someone's sitting off to one side of me and shakes/taps their leg. Leg-shakers in general drive me nuts (sorry, ADHDers, I know you often can't control it but I can't be around you).
posted by AFABulous at 11:59 AM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


So I am not able to choose my response. Its always rage even when I know its completely irrational. Its like I have the rational part of me observing while the lizard brain is just losing its shit. Theres no choice about any of it.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 12:01 PM on February 7, 2017


Squealing babies, man.

if trump was like "i am releasing a new EO on the matter of squealing babies" i'd be like ok everyone let's give the man a chance to speak
posted by poffin boffin at 12:35 PM on February 7, 2017 [4 favorites]


I have a friend who eats this way. It used to drive me... INSAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANE. No physical symptoms, no shortness of breath or actual feeling sick, but the same wild urge to strangle. Then one day something occurred to me. My friend has a steadily worsening hearing impairment. She can't hear herself eat. She has no idea she's doing this at all. In fact, along with not hearing slobbersmacking sounds, she's also gradually losing consonants. Her speech is slowly over the years getting softer around the edges. It's not hard to understand her at all, and she's beautiful to listen to because her voice is lovely, but she's noticeably less crisp every time we talk (we live across the country from each other and see each other every two or three years--and now never talk on the phone because of the hearing impairment). Anyway, important data point: the instant I realized she really had no idea it was happening, so she wasn't in any way just being an entitled rudie who should have known better, the lipsmacking rage totally disappeared, and I could love my dear friend all the time, including while we eat burritos together.

This leads me to wonder: is it really the noise? The noise qua noise?

I can sit in a room and blithely coexist with a dog eating or drinking enthusiastically, but with a person doing the same thing, I'd get mad urges to strangle.

A snoring dog is cute; a snoring uncle is asking for a quick, firm murderin'.

How about this: barking dog vs eating dog? Eating dog, hilarious. Eating dog, snoring dog, panting dog--all hilarious and endearing. Barking dog? I want to murder everyone even tangentially responsible. The dog, the dog's owners, the dog's parents, the dog's grandparents, the owners' parents and grandparents, other pets and people in the vicinity, myself, the human species, all dogs, all domesticated animals, the planet that spawned us.

Human snoring? Rude: you should go snore somewhere where you're not bothering anybody. Humaneating? Rude. Go eat in a locked vault if you can't do it without making that sound. (Hearing-impaired excepted.) Pet dog snoring, slobbering, eating, racing around like a maniac out of sheer joy? Endearing. Pet dog yapping incessantly in the backyard: rude, rude, rude, the rudest, bring on nuclear Armageddon.

Would you feel rage if you were sitting around the table with, say, a baby hippo wearing a bib with daisies on it and loudly eating half a watermelon? If so, then sure, you've got the misophonia. If you're just annoyed when your cubicle-mate tucks in and sounds like a baby hippo but is, in fact, a hideous awful horrifying fellow human, then, dear friend, like me what you have is a case of the misanthropy.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:15 PM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


If it's anecdata you're looking for: I don't have a dog, but I do have a cat that I dote on, and he doesn't eat loudly, but he does groom himself loudly. Like, with loud slurping noises. It's fucking disgusting. I have to leave the room when he does it. So for me: yep, it's noise qua noise, no matter who it's emanating from.
posted by holborne at 2:20 PM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Scientists. Always stumbling across what we already know.

Scientists. Doing the tedious and sometimes difficult work to get actual data to prove our assumptions and presuppositions.

Yay, scientists!
posted by Lexica at 3:06 PM on February 7, 2017 [6 favorites]


Oh. Our little Pearl does the same thing and it's maddening. I don't get all ragey, but I don't hang out in the room when the grooming's going on, either. Okay, yeah, scratch that theory.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:34 PM on February 7, 2017


Trigger warning: text ahead mentions child abuse.

Crying and screaming children, especially inconsolable wailing babies, with whining a close second. It's a knife plunged straight into my brain through my ear and then twisted. Repeatedly. I can't think about anything else except an animal-like plea: make it stop! And yes, I experience a fight or flight response: sometimes thoughts of harming the perpetrator arise unbidden. Usually I just endure, but if it goes on more than a few minutes I have to leave. I would gladly pay extra to dine in child-free restaurants or travel on child-free planes.

I've been this way my entire life. Reading about how evolution caused the sounds kids make to motivate people to eliminate the cause didn't help. I've frightened myself enough times with my sudden urge to do violence that I decided never to have children; I feared I would snap suddenly in my torment. Back when having kids was potentially in the cards, every time I read about child abusers explaining their crimes with "the baby wouldn't stop crying," I shuddered and thought that could be me. People always claimed that it would be different with my own child, but the risk was too great.

For the record, I enjoy children so long as they don't cry or scream--the older, the better--and the few times I've heard one cry following an actual injury I wasn't nearly as bothered. The quality of the sound was more... sincere, and so less aggravating.

Many people think I must be a terrible person. I have thought I must be a terrible person, or at least an extremely damaged one. It's a burden, but it's good to know I'm not alone.
posted by carmicha at 3:43 PM on February 7, 2017 [5 favorites]


Regarding suffering this affliction early in life, family lore includes the story of a kindly relative asking me, age 2.5, what I thought of having a baby brother. "Cry. Cry. Cry. Crying crying crying. Hisname Hisname Hisname," I replied.
posted by carmicha at 4:24 PM on February 7, 2017


> The fact that there are certain 'trigger' sounds is very odd and something I cannot explain, but my feeling is that the response may not have that much to do with acoustics of these sounds themselves but rather their broader context or meaning.

Initially it feels like a purely acoustic thing to me. Chewing sounds (and a few other sorts of irregularly semi-rhythmic noises, like the rattle of our range hood, for example) just SHUT DOWN my brain, and the reaction typically kicks in before I identify the source of the noise. I can't ignore the sound or form a coherent sentence. Like, imagine someone poking you in the arm while screaming in your face while your vision goes slightly blurry.

There's certainly a secondary contextual element of emotional frustration of "argh that thing that makes me feel like this is happening, and I know my coworker is just eating their snack and not technically doing anything wrong so my reaction of MAIME KILL DESTROY YOU AND YOUR FUCKING CARROT STICKS is just something I have to ENDURE."

Conversely, though, I actually love going out to eat with people, even with messy/slurpy food. I rarely have any misophonia there, unless someone at the table has actual poor table manners and are chewing with their mouths open, making unusually extreme lip-smacking noises, etc.
posted by desuetude at 9:08 PM on February 7, 2017


If you are interested in how this manifests then the previous MeFi thread has some personal stories.

The fact that there are certain 'trigger' sounds is very odd and something I cannot explain, but my feeling is that the response may not have that much to do with acoustics of these sounds themselves but rather their broader context or meaning.

One thing that I think a few people mentioned in the prior thread was that the sounds can be much worse for them if it is someone close (emotionally rather than spatially) to them making the noise and how this can place a strain on relationships. I know this is how it seems to manifest for me.
posted by biffa at 7:47 AM on February 8, 2017


biffa, is this related to the "bitch eating crackers" phenomenon?
posted by idiopath at 1:13 PM on February 8, 2017


I have no idea.
posted by biffa at 2:21 AM on February 10, 2017


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