There are few things more infuriating than the eating habits of others; from soup slurpers to those who feel confident talking through a mouthful of partially digested curry.
As grim as such bad habits are, I can’t say I’ve ever pushed people out of my life on account of their dining table faux pas. And I speak as someone who has encountered many an enthusiastic plate licker.
However, for one American man, his aversion to chewing has had a huge impact on his life; affecting his romantic relationships and even causing him to shun members of his own family.
41-year-old Derrol Murphy, from San Diego, suffers with a rare condition called misophonia, whereby certain noises trigger extreme emotional reactions.
The graphic design company production manager reacts to noisy eaters with complete rage, and has been unable to see relatives for years because of their throat clearing. For a long time, Derrol couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him, only receiving his misophonia diagnosis at the age of 30.
According to Derrol:
I thought I was crazy for many years. Little noises would make me just fly into a rage.
People don’t understand it and I can’t explain it. It’s affected relationships, especially people I’ve been dating and family members, because you take it out on the people closest to you because you think they should understand.
I’m not an aggressive person, noises just anger me. I’ve had to walk out on dates if they are chewing really loudly, my face gives it away – I pull a look of disgust I can’t hide.
Chewing is a big one and specific voices. I hear everything all the time. One noise can stick out and if I’m in a restaurant, I hear one person’s voice and then I hear the cutlery, it makes me go crazy.
The rustling of plastic bags drives me absolutely crazy, and I haven’t been to the movies for more than 10 years because people opening food bags is a very bad trigger.
It’s definitely made dating interesting, and I haven’t been able to speak to relatives for years as the throat clearing would make situations tense.
The severity of his misophonia sadly even caused the breakdown of Derrol’s previous relationship. Fortunately, he has since been able to find a supportive partner in Kurt who is – in a bizarre twist of fate – a noisy eater.
When Kurt chews, his jaw clicks and when we first started dating, he was eating with his mouth open on the first date. I thought there was no way it was going to work, and had to tell him pretty quickly.
Kurt will shout to cover my ears then I can brace myself. Misophonia contributed to the breakdown of my relationship with my ex, so it’s huge that Kurt is so understanding. Most people say they understand but he just has to look at my face to know when a noise is getting to me.
i would give literally anything to not have been born with misophonia it’s ruined my life for so long idc if i’d be a different person it’s tearing me the fuck apart
— Lauren Phillips♒️ (@laurinophillips) August 1, 2019
— krystalhewett (@krystalhewett) August 2, 2019
Going forward, Derrol – who is forced to wear headphones for three hours each day to cope with his condition – wants to raise awareness about misophonia, and hopes to encourage people to be more patient with sufferers:
Hopefully, people will get a bigger understanding of it and realise that just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
It’s actually real and people need to be patient with people who have to deal with it. It’s hard enough for us to figure out what’s going on.
living with misophonia is really exhausting and can make u feel very isolated but just know that you aren’t alone. i didn’t even know there was a term for it until this year and now that i know it’s not something i’m making up in my head it’s helped a bit. https://t.co/fh1adCi63t
— Shane Dawson (@shanedawson) July 22, 2019
it’s so nice to hear someone speak about this, i’ve suffered from misophonia since i was 12 and it has always made me feel so alone. everyone always thinks i’m overreacting or being moody bc they don’t understand how badly it affects me
— ellie 🧷 (@elliemclique) July 29, 2019
As reported by the Misophonia Institute, misophonia is usually reported to affect approximately one out of 1,500 people (0.07 per cent) in the U.S.
However, the Misophonia Institute noted this figure could be far higher, suggesting many cases are still being left undiagnosed.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.