If the sound of lip smacking, and saliva being churned around someone’s gob doesn’t fill you with some level of rage, odds are that you probably annoy someone with that very habit. But before you label them as unreasonable, there is a growing belief that this anger is caused by a real psychiatric condition.
The term for this condition, Misophonia, literally means the hatred of sound, although it is generally accepted that sufferers of it are only sensitive to specific types of noise.
Tests suggested that the most common sounds that made people want to punch whoever they were sat next to were ‘mouthy noises’.
There are only limited numbers of studies and articles available to date, but experiments are gradually removing scepticism from the notion that it could be a real disorder.
From tests which monitored the reactions of volunteers to certain stimuli, those considered to have misophonia did have a greater response than those without.
But strangely, the misophoniacs knew their response was disproportionate and tried to use coping strategies to stay calm, but these strategies would have a negative effect on their day to day lives – which I can imagine. The feeling of frustration increasing as you knowingly attempt to suppress it is pretty common, just ask any Chelsea fan right now.
If this is all sounding too familiar, don’t worry, there is hope for you and it doesn’t involve meds. No, instead there is a process of desensitisation therapy.
The method used by one Dr. Pawel Jastreboff is to use positive reinforcement and retrain the brain to associate positive experience with negative triggers. For example, smelling and eating your favourite food in the presence of a noisy eater.
That could work, or it may just ruin your favourite food as you negatively reinforce sensations surrounding it with the blood boiling emotions felt as a noisy eater nashes away in your ear.
Either way, the growing studies into misophonia should serve as proof that we’re not all crazy for getting annoyed at noisy eaters, but we do all have varying degrees of tolerance.
You basically have three options: 1) Potentially damaging coping mechanisms. 2) Therapy. Or 3) Just ask the annoying prick you’re eating with to consume their food less like a farm animal at feeding time.
It’s your call.