If heavy breathing, in all of its forms doesn’t grind your gears, then chances are you probably annoy someone with that very habit.
Yet there’s some gravity behind what some might see as an idiosyncratic trait.
Being thoroughly chuffed off with the sound, if not feel, of someone heavily breathing, is part of a genuine psychiatric condition.
Misophonia, is the term which literally means the hatred of sound, although it’s generally accepted sufferers of it are only sensitive to specific types of noise.
Tests suggested the most common sounds which made people want to punch whoever they were sat next to were ‘mouthy noises’. So it’s not just breathing, but loud chewers for example.
There are only limited numbers of studies and articles available to date, but experiments are gradually removing scepticism from the notion 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.
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.
If this is all sounding too familiar, don’t worry, there’s hope for you and it doesn’t involve meds.
No, instead there’s a process of desensitisation therapy.
The method used by one Dr Pawel Jastreboff, according to the Daily Mail, 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.
It 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 how we’re not all silly for getting annoyed at heavy breathers or noisy eaters or whoever, but we do all have varying degrees of tolerance.
You basically have three options: 1) Potentially damaging coping mechanisms 2) Therapy or 3) Just say to said irritator: ‘Hey bro? Cool it with the heavy breathing, OK? Who are you, Darth Vader?’
Trust me, they won’t know what to say.