Misophonia is not just a chewing disorder!

chewing misophonia rageSo many people refer to misophonia as a disorder in which people aversively respond to chewing and breathing. There has been a culture that has conformed to the idea of “chewing rage”, unfortunately this does not tell the entire story. While there seems to be a high incidence of severe reactivity to chewing and other body noises it is important to keep in mind that misophonia also includes responsivity to other kinds of noises. In time research will reveal the mystery behind the noises that bother us. However, in the meantime it is always good to have on hand a short review of what the studies show us this far.

What are the symptoms of misophonia?

Individuals with misophonia are set off, or “triggered” by repetitive, patterned-based sounds, such as chewing, coughing, pencil tapping, sneezing, etc. Some individuals with misophonia also describe visual triggers.

Are the sounds always related to chewing or “people noises”?

Often people assume these are noises that  from other peoples’ bodies (such as chewing). However,  we really don’t know what features of the noises are causing the aversive responding. For example, it may be the repetition of the noise that is not processed properly within the auditory/neurological system, not the fact that “my friends chewing bothers me”.

Is misophonia neurological or psychiatric?

Misophonia appears to be a neurologically based disorder in which certain auditory stimuli are misinterpreted as dangerous or otherwise harmful. This atypical auditory processing may leads a fight/flight response, which leads to  emotional reactivity and psychological problems.

Is there a cure for misophonia?

Not yet but research looks promising.

What different treatments or therapies are there? What therapies may exist the near future?

 Right now, we know more about wasn’t doesn’t work than what does. Until we figure out the underlying neural mechanisms it is difficult to say what will help treat the condition. Psychological counseling may be helpful and earplugs that mask noise fitted by audiologists may help with daily life functioning. However, there is not an approved therapy at this time.

What do I do if I need help?

Try to find psychologists, counselors and audiologists through reliable sources such as medical doctors who have written articles on misophonia. As you sift through the many different press articles and support groups, etc. on the Internet make sure that you are corresponding with professionals who understand the disorder, who are connected to a university where misophonia is being studied, or who have been providing clinical services for misophonia or related disorders and/or who are willing to work under the direction of someone who can guide them. Most of all, go with your instinct when looking for help. If you feel that someone is treating you with disrespect or exploiting your suffering for purposes of profit, listen to your instincts.

Jennifer Jo Brout is a New York State Certified School Psychologist, a Connecticut Professional Licensed Counselor, and she also holds a Doctorate in School/Clinical-Child Psychology. She graduated from New York University, Columbia University, and Ferkauf School of Psychology (at Albert Einstein School of Medicine) respectively. She is also the mother of adult triplets, and is a Misophonia sufferer herself. Disappointed by her own experiences with the state of the field when seeking help for her own child in 1999, Dr. Brout began efforts to establish better research practice, improved diagnosis, and innovative clinical practice related to Misophonia (under the name “auditory over-resposivity). Dr. Brout has been at the forefront of research in this area for over 18 years, having established the Sensation and Emotion Network (SENetwork) in 2007, along with Sensory Processing and Emotion Regulation Program at Duke University in 2008.