MISO-BUSTER: Myth Vs Reality- Setting the Record Straight

With so many misconceptions about Misophonia I decided to put together a list of preconceived theories for people who are not familiar with Misophonia.

MYTH                   Misophonia means you hate sound

REALITY

While hatred of sound is the literal definition, Misophonia suffers are negatively impacted by certain trigger sounds which leads to adverse reactions such as a fight or flight response. A more accurate definition is being tortured by sound.

MYTH                   What’s the big deal? Just ignore it

REALITY

It IS a big deal, a Misophonia sufferer cannot tune out trigger sounds or ignore them. In fact, quite the opposite is true, our ears tend to zone in on the trigger sound blocking everything else out. Trust me, if we could ignore it, we would.

MYTH                   Misophonia? Oh, isn’t that when you get annoyed at people chewing?

REALITY

While most Misophonia sufferers find chewing/mouth sounds to be the most common triggers, there are so many other sounds that also affect the Misophonia sufferer such as tapping, other repetitive sounds, clicking, sniffling, breathing, etc. The list of trigger sounds is endless.

MYTH                   Oh, I hate that sound, I must have Misophonia too.

REALITY

There is a vast difference between hating something and being triggered. You can hate broccoli, but you can avoid it, if it is on your plate you can dump it into the trash. Being triggered brings on such intense raging emotions. If you are triggered by a sound, the ONLY thing you can think about is how to make it stop and go away. Often, you cannot make it go away, it may continue to echo in your head.

Hating certain sounds can be common, such as nails on a chalkboard or snoring. They annoy you, you do not like them, but you are able to get past them.

When you have Misophonia, you can’t. You feel hate, rage, you may want to hurt someone, you may want to hurt yourself just from hearing one little sound that no one else seems to even notice. Sometimes, you become so triggered you even experience a meltdown. (Sometimes you feel so emotionally overwhelmed by unpleasant feelings that you can no longer control them or hide them from others.)

MYTH                   Take a pill and you will be all better

REALITY

It would be nice if there was a magic pill that could help. However, there is currently no medication for Misophonia. While some sufferers find some relief to their reactions by taking anxiety medication, anxiety meds are not intended for Misophonia.

MYTH                   Just keep listening to the sound and you will get used to it.

REALITY

NOT TRUE! The more you hear a sound, the more of a trigger it will become. Exposure makes the triggers worse. Think of a swimming pool, when you jump in the water it’s freezing, a while later you get used to it. Translating that water into sound, the water gets colder and colder until it is freezing. Similarly if you can imagine being in a dark room then walking outside to a bright sunny day, you immediately shut your eyes as they begin to adapt to the change in brightness. With Misophonia, if you think of the sun as the sound, it gets brighter and brighter, literally blinding you.

MYTH                   Seriously? You cannot possibly hear that little noise.

REALITY

Misophones have exceptional hearing. Our sense of hearing is hyper sensitive and we can hear certain sounds that most people cannot. For many of us, our hearing is so sharp that sounds are often amplified. One sufferer during a visit to an acupuncturist heard the needle drop, we really are that sensitive to sound.

MYTH                   You used to get upset when I was chewing, now you are triggered because I clicked my pen?

REALITY

Triggers have a way of growing. Like a cell, you have one trigger, and as time passes you develop additional triggers and that cell will grow into a giant Misophonia monster.

MYTH                   Katie has Misophonia and chewing is not a trigger for her, why does it bother you?

REALITY

We are all different individual people, we all have different triggers.

MYTH                   When Tommy is triggered, he puts on his headphones and he is fine, he doesn’t freak out.

REALITY

Just as we all have different triggers, our coping mechanisms are also different. White noise is often recommended for a Misophone, for me, white noise IS a trigger. Some people find yoga or exercise helpful, others prefer absolute solitude. Misophones are like snowflakes, we are all different. What works for one of us does not work for all of us. Misophonia is not “one size fits all.”

MYTH                   You heard that crunching an hour ago, get over it! Yesterday when you heard that sound, you didn’t go ballistic.

REALITY

Depending on your general state of mind, and the intensity of your trigger, bouncing back from a trigger is not instantaneous. For many sufferers, the reaction can last an extended period of time. We would love nothing more than to get over it and go on with our day.

Our triggers are our triggers. We cannot change them, but our reactions to those triggers CAN change. One day a trigger might send me into a rage, the next day the same trigger may upset me but I can refrain from anything further. Another time, I just may break down into tears. That is the strange thing about Misophonia, it is very unpredictable.

MYTH                   Do you really have to start yelling and throwing things? For crying out loud, I was just chewing a piece of gum.

REALITY

Yes, I do have to start yelling or throwing things. I do not mean to, that is just my natural reaction to the trigger sound. I do not want to react, but sometimes I will just lash out without thought.

MYTH                    You must really hate me. You are always so grumpy around me.

REALITY

No, I do not hate you, at all. But the sounds that you make trigger me, and it is difficult to be around you. It is not YOU, it is the sounds. Please do not take it personally.

MYTH                   If the doctor doesn’t diagnose you with Misophonia, it cannot be real

REALITY

Not true! There are very few medical professionals who are familiar with Misophonia. Honestly, it is like finding a needle in a haystack. Most sufferers are self diagnosed. Many do require special accommodations for work or school and will require medical documentation. In that case, consult the audiology department at the hospitals. Screen the provider to make sure they do know about Misophonia so you do not waste your time.

QUESTION          Is there anything I can do to help you?

ANSWER

Yes, the most important thing you can do is offer me your support and understanding. Understand that if I walk out of a room I need to escape for solitude. I need to get away from whatever is triggering me. Listen to me when I tell you my triggers and how they make me feel. Understand that I have no control over what triggers me, and if I need to step away from the dinner table, it is not because I am not enjoying your company, I just cannot handle the trigger sounds.

Learn about Misophonia, and help spread awareness.

Vicki Sladowski
My name is Vicki and I am a lifetime sufferer of Misophonia. I grew up thinking I was a mean, hateful monster, only recently did I learn that I have Misophonia. Like most sufferers, when I found out I had an actual disorder I was so relieved to know that it is not my personality, and most importantly there are people who UNDERSTAND what I am going through and I how I feel. We are not in this alone.

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