Do you get unreasonably angry at the sound of people chewing? It may be more than just a pet peeve.
Misophonia, a recently-recognised condition, causes those who have it to react with anger, irritation, stress or violent rage to trigger sounds.
Common triggers include eating noises, lip-smacking, pen clicking, tapping and typing. And all those noises can drive a person with misophonia to avoid family gatherings or public outings altogether.
The condition, which is a hatred of sound, is more than just a mild irritation. Sufferers say it’s like being punched in the stomach or repeatedly stung by bees, Indy100 reports.
Meredith Rosol, a 25-year-old teacher who was diagnosed with misophonia, told the Independent: “I haven’t eaten with my parents, at least without earplugs, in over a decade. It’s like a fight-or-flight response: your muscles get tense, you’re on edge, your heart races, and you feel the urge to flee.”
In 2013, a group of Dutch psychiatrists urged that the condition be classified as its own psychiatric disorder.
And in recent years, further research by Northwestern University surrounding traits of misophonia show that those sensitive to sounds are typically more creative.
Arjan Schröder, a psychiatrist at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, said the condition usually starts around 13 or 14-years-old.
He told Motherboard:
It occurs in families, so there’s probably also a genetic component. And finally, it’s a problem in which a connection is made between a neutral sound and an aversive emotion.
It’s a conditioning process: if you’re in a problematic situation regularly enough, and start avoiding that situation, it gets worse and worse.
But despite the lack of knowledge about the cause, treatment is possible. The NHS gives advice for Hyperacusis, intolerance to everyday sounds, and suggests visiting your GP if you think you have it.
Common treatments revolve around relaxation techniques, therapy and counselling.