I suffer from this. I have a colleague, a dear sweet colleague who I really like but the sound of her slurping her coffee in the morning sends me into a blind rage that I could literally punch her in the face. As a result, when I see her coming in the morning, I go and do something else to avoid her. Another person regularly brings apples to work and the sound of the crunching just drives me batty that again, I have to get up and find something else to do to avoid it. Clicking heels on a pavement also drives me to distraction as well some-one who constantly clears their throat.
Misophonia, also known as Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome is a somewhat newly dubbed disorder. (As recently as 2003) In the past, people who suffered from Misophonia were misdiagnosed with anxiety, anger disorders, or even post traumatic stress disorder. The reasoning for this is that the actual responses to hearing common sounds are so outrageous that people were believed to suffer from another mental disorder that triggered a negative reaction to annoying sounds that people and animals often make.
Although the victims of these sounds may not outwardly display our horror, internally we’re feeling intense anxiety, anger, irritation or physical pressure, thinking that your sounds are rude or disgusting, and experiencing high blood pressure or a racing heart rate.
But don’t dismiss misophonia as an extreme case of hateful intolerance. We are acutely aware that we focus abnormally on sounds. The agony can be so extreme that it forces us to avoid certain social situations and can even, in extreme cases, elicit suicidal thoughts.
There is no known cause for how the disorder is triggered, or how the disorder starts to begin with. There is no cure, but learning coping skills to deal with Misophonia, such as breathing techniques or focusing on something else, have proved useful. I find that when I meditate regularly, the symptoms dissipate. Simply knowing that the disorder exists can help a person learn to cope with it, and realise that they are not crazy for the way they feel. Misophonia can affect anyone, and often begins young in life, but can occur or become worse at any given time. Cognitive therapy can help a person cope with this life-affecting disorder. It goes way beyond simple annoyance for some people, and understanding Misophonia brings a person that much closer to dealing with it successfully.
So the next time someone glares at you for clicking your pen, drumming your fingers, filing your nails, snorting, or sucking your teeth, maybe spare a thought for the distressing effects those little habits may be having on them?