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What Is Misophonia And Do You Have It?

Some people suffering from misophonia can get violent when they have to listen to loud chewing, lip-smacking or sniffling.

| BY Kent McDill

You have a problem eating with others because you can’t stand the sound of people chewing, to the point that you get violent, or simply leave the table rather than put up with the noise.

You have a disorder known as misophonia. Except it might not be a disorder. It might just be the way you were brought up.

A detailed examination of her own concerns with the distracting problem was written by Megan Cartwright for the website It found that misophonia has only recently been studied, which is why its designation is still under discussion.

Here is a recap of what Cartwright discovered, noting that not much has been written about the difficulty over time.

In 2011, a study by neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran at the University of California, San Diego conducted interviews with 11 people who were members of an Internet support group for misophonia. What the research found was that every member of the group reacted more strongly to loud “chewing, mouthy sounds” made by adults eating. A control group also reacted negatively to the sounds, but not to the degree of those in the support group.

The other trigger sounds included loud sniffling and lip-smacking.

What the researchers in that group decided was that everyone is turned off by those noises, but that people with misophonia are simply at the extreme end of a normal pattern. The researchers theorized that people with misophonia have unusually strong neural connections between the sound-processing parts of their brains and their limbic systems, which help regulated emotion.

The people suffering from misophonia told researchers they had developed coping mechanisms, including leaving the room, avoiding situations that produce those noises, or mimicking the sounds so that the noise they hear comes from their own head rather than external sources. But they said the coping mechanisms did have a negative impact on their work and home lives.

A similar study was done on students at the University of South Florida in 2014 and it was found that 20 percent of 483 students tested reacted strongly to the sound stimuli similar to that described in the earlier study. These students also reported that misophonia was giving them trouble functioning in both the classroom and at their jobs.

That study suggested a connection between misophonia and the mental disorders of anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Another study conducted in Amsterdam in 2013 also noted a commonality between those with misophonia and symptoms of OCD.

The South Florida research group conducted some treatment on a couple of students, offering cognitive behavioral therapy, helping them to develop healthier ways to respond to the stimuli that affected them.

However, the researchers who first coined the term “misophonia’’ believe it is a learned behavior. Emory University otolaryngology professor Pawel Jastreboff and his collaborator and spouse Margaret Jastreboff said misophonia is a form of decreased sound tolerance with no link to psychiatric condition. They say misophonia is a behavior that has grown out of the initial negative reaction to the sound associated with bad table manners. The Jastreboffs believe a proper treatment is desensitization therapy, by associating positive experiences with the noisy eater.

”Misophonia definitely can be treated successfully,” Pawel Jastreboff told Cartwright, “but it is important to know how to do it.”

 Still, there is a push to get misophonia recognized as a mental disorder is underway.

About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.