Does Certain Sounds Like Chewing or Nails on a Chalkboard Drive You Crazy? Misophonia Explained

September 9, 2022

There’s a fair chance that there’s a sound that drives you up the wall. Everyone has at least one sound they wish they could avoid hearing.

Think about a sound that particularly irritates you. How does it make you feel?

Maybe it’s your friend chewing very loudly, your coworker continually tapping their pen at the table, or the infamous nails on the chalkboard. Everyone gets annoyed by certain sounds, but for people who experience misophonia, it’s taking that to the extreme.

What is misophonia?

Misophonia, which literally translates into 'the hatred of sound', is a strong, emotional, and impulsive reaction to common everyday sounds that can cause people to feel anger, disgust, or anxiety. This might be triggered by sounds such as slurping, breathing, crunching, joint cracking, and many more.

Misophonia can turn everyday activities like dining with your friends and interacting with family into torture. Some people feel isolated because they’re afraid to interact and lash out at people.

Imagine how difficult it must be to have good interpersonal relationships with people around you when all you can think of is the disgusting sounds they're making!

Related article: Hearing the world in colour: sound-to-colour synesthesia

a guys ear hearing different sound from a lot of illustrated mouths - misophonia

How would misophonia affect you?

Everyone’s brain is wired completely differently. For those who suffer from misophonia, the emotional part of the brain reacts differently than those who don’t suffer from it.

It is said that the brain would push you into a flight or fight response upon hearing such sounds. The noise you experience would be so hard to manage that it would cause negative emotions that scream ‘get me out of here!’.

It’s like a sensory overload.

Related article: Does anyone actually enjoy going to noisy places? Only 1.3% of us, apparently!

How do you treat misophonia?

Misophonia can affect your daily life immensely but people usually learn to manage it.

There are many ways people treat misophonia, but some more common ones are sound or talk therapy, behavioral treatments, and counseling. Some people also use hearing devices that create a sound in your ear similar to a waterfall. The noise distracts you from triggers and reduces reactions.

Another way people deal with misophonia is simply by trying to avoid some triggering sounds. You might wear earplugs, listen to music or listen to white noise in situations where you know you might experience it. Usually, people suggest engaging in conversations while eating if the triggering sounds are mouth noises like chewing or crunching, as this helps to mask the unpleasant sounds.

However, not all people have such strong emotions hearing people eat, breathe or whisper. In fact, some people actually enjoy it and spend hours listening to these sounds!

Related article: Brain tingles: ASMR

If you have that one particular sound that simply drives you crazy – or one you absolutely love – please share your story with us. We would love to hear your thoughts about these triggering sounds!

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