This letter is an attempt to explain the medical condition termed “Misophonia” or “4S” for Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome. This problem is just beginning to be researched by the scientific community. A current hypothesis being explored is that Misophonia is a neurological disorder in which selective auditory signals trigger a fight-or-flight reflex.The average age of onset appears to be between 8 and 12 years old and the symptoms normally come on suddenly causing the patient and his/her family a great deal of anguish.
Someone who suffers from this condition typically has a strong negative emotional reaction to the repetition of a variety of sounds--frequently associated with mouth noises such as chewing or slurping or breathing. However, there are many different sounds, or triggers, that can cause a problem for someone with Misophonia such as sniffing, pens clicking, heel-tapping, typing, dogs barking, birds chirping, etc. Typically any sound that is repeated enough has the potential to become a trigger. Sometimes just the sight of one of these behaviors can trigger an intense reaction. Some Misophonia sufferers also have purely visual triggers like jiggling legs or other repetitive mannerisms. Each individual has different triggers and also has different emotional reactions, however, the vast majority have in common a feeling of some degree of anger at mouth sounds. While mild sufferers of Misophonia may feel tense or irritated by these sounds, more severe cases involve uncontrollable outbursts of panic, anger, and often the imaging of violent encounters.
It is very important to realize that the individual with Misophonia often has little or no control over their reactions. They realize that their sensitivities to these sounds are irrational, but their brains appear to get hijacked and their emotional centers activated, perhaps related to a brain error involving the normal “fight or flight” response that all humans experience in a threatening situation.
Many people with Misophonia suffer for years in silence, believing that they are the only person experiencing this reaction and that they must be “crazy.” They often try many different strategies to cope with or avoid their triggers including earplugs, eating in isolation, white noise generators, prescribed medications, drugs/alcohol/self-medication, hypnosis, CBT and other therapies, but nothing truly seems to provide significant relief. Misophonia sufferers feel misunderstood, isolated, and hopeless. In extreme cases, sufferers can become deeply depressed and even suicidal.
The growing strength of international online support communities suggests that Misophonia is a widespread problem. There are currently many thousands of registered users on the sites listed below, and posts often express frustration with health care providers who are ignorant of the existence of this condition and who underestimate the severity of its symptoms. It will be most helpful for medical professionals to become more aware of this syndrome and understand that their patients who have Misophonia are in desperate need of understanding and creative treatment.
Some informative websites about Misophonia are listed below: www.misophonia.info
MISOPHONIA INFORMATION SHEET
* Misophonia, sometimes referred to as 4S (Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome), is a...