Good news. Well, kind of.
First, your affliction has a name. Which is always comforting. Some psychologists call it misophonia, which means fear of sound. Which doesn’t quite capture it.
I know because I have this misophonia business going on in my noggin big time. It’s not a fear of sound. It’s a rage-inducing irritation.
These are the sounds that get to me: chewing, especially the way people do it in (particularly New York-based) movies where they smack lips and teeth together while talking and waving a salad fork; foot tapping and leg jigging; sniffing; heavy breathing; nose whistling and vibrating mechanical devices (pool filters, air conditioning and so on).
On the sniffing thing, what is it with people aged approximately 23-43 and this thing for sniffing as they make important points. It seems to have emerged as a thing…noticed same?
Also, according to a study by Northwestern University, an inability to filter “irrelevant” sensory information is linked to increased levels of creativity. The study suggests that creative people with “leaky” sensory gating (misophonia) may have a propensity to deploy attention over a wider focus or a larger range of stimuli.
Know this. If you’re thinking people like me are just being special and should just do what the rest of you do – block it out and move on: Apparently, the sound is literally amplified in our brains to such a level that it cannot be ignored and triggers the fight or flight mechanism, and panic attacks.
I’ve tried to get to the bottom of the actual science on the subject. To be frank, there’s not a lot. There seems to be a link between the aural trigger and the autonomic system, which acts faster than our rational brains, and the dysfunction seems to be of the central auditory system in the brain and not of the ear. There’s been a study that found 80% of the sounds were related to the mouth (eating, yawning, etc.) and around 60% were repetitive. Which is interesting.
Here’s a list of misophonia triggers, most of which fit this pattern:
Chewing, crunching, gulping, gum chewing and popping, kissing sounds, nail biting, silverware scraping teeth or a plate, slurping, sipping, licking, smacking, spitting, swallowing, talking with food in mouth, tooth brushing, flossing, lip smacking, wet mouth sounds, grinding teeth, throat clearing, grunting, groaning, screaming, loud or soft breathing, sniffling, snorting, snoring, sneezing, loud or soft talking, raspy voices, congested breathing, hiccups, yawning, nose whistling, wheezing, clicking from texting, keyboard/mouse, tv remote, pen clicking, writing sounds, papers rustling/ripping, ticking clocks, cell phone ringtone, dishes clattering, fork scraping teeth, silverware hitting plates or other silverware, rattling change in pockets, plastic bags crinkling/rustling, plastic bags opening or being rubbed, crinkling food packages, car doors slamming, turn signal clicking, muffled bass music or TV through walls, doors/windows being slammed, dogs barking, bird sounds, crickets, frogs, foot shuffling (dry feet on floor/carpet) or tapping, finger snapping, foot dragging, heels, flip flops, knuckle/joint cracking, eye blinking, nail biting and clipping.
Anyway. Regardless of whether it’s officially listed as a neurological disorder (it doesn’t make it to the DSM, for instance), misophonia certainly seems to be some sort of “thing”. And very much linked to anxiety. I know the sounds I list above directly trigger mine. You?