Why Misophonia is So Often Misunderstood

by | Jun 11, 2014 | Articles | 7 comments

Why misophonia is so often misunderstood

Misophonia means literally ‘hatred of sound’ – or rather certain very specific (often repetitive) sounds.

Only it’s a bit more complex than that.

One of the problems when describing misophonia to non-sufferers is that the concept is so simple it’s often misunderstood.

Because non-sufferers can often identify with the idea of certain sounds being annoying – such as the sound of a biro clicking or someone eating with their mouth open, they think they ‘get it’. Usually (despite the best of intentions) they don’t. Misophonia is not about getting annoyed, or even extremely annoyed, with certain sounds. It’s having a physiological response to them.

The best way to describe this, is that these triggers will elicit a ‘fight or flight’ response.

So when a misophonia sufferer hears someone eating loudly and lip smacking they can often feel:

  • Panicked and/or enraged
  • Their heart will start racing
  • Everything else feels ‘blocked out’
  • They can imagine violent scenarios in their head

The sound most often used as an example when people try to describe misophonia is lip smacking, simply because it’s an extremely strong trigger for most of us.

However, because most people find noisy eating unattractive, irritating even, they feel like that understand it.

They think: “everyone finds those sounds annoying, you’ve just taken it up a notch and have a more extreme reaction”.

That’s not the case and this misconception can hinder people’s understanding of the condition and what a sufferer really goes through.

As a misophonia sufferer you don’t get to pick and choose your triggers, or the intensity of the reaction. When an episode takes place it overrides every single thought. Life, at that moment, is unbearable.

The sufferer has to either remove themselves from the situation or speak to the person making the sound and ask them to stop. I normally do the former because, after 2 decades living with this, I’ve realised it’s not the other person’s fault.

When the noise stops and/or you move away from the noise, the heart rate will normally start to return to normal and you can start going back to what you were doing. In my case I normally have a few minutes stewing over the episode where I try and rationalise things in my head.


You might role play in your mind a scenario where you go up to the person making the sound and literally throttle them until they stop… or throw their cutlery across the room… or scream blue murder.

Now obviously these would be completely outrageous and unacceptable reactions if we played them out. Apparently a very small percentage of extreme sufferers have done this, but these are very exceptional cases.

More often than not the person will suffer in silence and try to remove themselves from the situation or block it out (for instance with headphones). Misophonia sufferers are rational people and know that the disorder is responsible for the pain, not the person making the sound.

One quirk of misophonia is that episodes can be more intense if the person making the sound is someone they love or are close to – such as a partner, a family member or a friend.

Obviously this can make life hellish (think family dinners, or interactions at work). I personally find this aspect of the disorder has a silver lining. Because your rational mind knows you love and value this person, it can help you to add a parallel narrative during, or immediately after, an episode.

So you can chant to yourself (in your head of course) “this person doesn’t mean to cause me harm… they have no idea what they are doing is driving me insane… this is someone I truly care about… the issue is the misophonia, not them.”

It doesn’t stop the pain but it can go some way to helping you rationalise it and deal with it in a less destructive way.

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  1. andrew narrie

    i didn,t know such a condition existed until i went online and i had a name for it, do i live with it or is there help for it.

    • Chle

      There is things you can do to help it but no cure yet its hard to live with I suggest you find online support groups as they work well and explain it to everyone you know so they can be respectful of it …..other than that beats me

  2. Tony

    I’ve had this since being a kid and now I’m 43′ I need help with this thing! It dominates my whole life and makes me mentally unstable when it’s happening! Hatred isn’t a strong enough word to describe what I feel. I worry it happens before it does’ seething when it’s happening then full of rage at the thought of it’

  3. Sunny

    I have been struggling with this from my childhood, i was thinking i am the only odd one suffering with this, thanks guys for this great help..the guide which i received indeed a great help…God bless

  4. pk

    I too feel the same way when my very close one coughs. What can I do about it? I dont want to feel that way, but its not in my hands i feel. can someone help me out?? Please.

    • Allergic to Sound

      Hi pk, I know it’s hard and overwhelming. The most effective coping mechanism is to move away from the situation and/or to carry headphones that you can put on whenever you are being triggered.

  5. Didder D

    do i have this if it doesn’t cause an aggressive response? because i think i might have it, but the best way i can describe it is extreme discomfort, not violent at all from what i can tell.
    (tw: bugs) it’s kind of like a bug crawled into my ear and is scratching at my eardrum;
    it causes static in my brain, similar to touching some of the worst textures, with my sensitivity to textures.


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