Why do certain noises turn us on

Misophony

When everyday noises become a burden

People suffering from misophonia react with severe discomfort to certain noises, tones, or sounds. We answer the most important questions about this.

What is misophonia and what are the symptoms?

The term misophony comes from the Greek and literally means “hatred of noises”. The discomfort can be triggered by different noises, for example chewing, smacking, rustling, typing, nasal noises or environmental noises. These sounds create fear, anger, irritation and frustration in those affected

 

The consequences range to physical pain. These effects are independent of the volume of the noises. The impairment can go so far that those affected insult the person who caused the noise, sometimes even attacking them physically, or isolating themselves socially in order to avoid corresponding listening situations.

Is misophonia a psychological or physical phenomenon?

Researchers disagree as to whether misophonia is a purely psychological disorder or whether there is a neurological phenomenon in the nervous system. What is certain is that the trigger is not to be found in the ear itself. Rather, the processing of the auditory impressions in the brain or in the nervous system is disturbed. Therefore, actually insignificant noises are perceived as important and cannot be faded out of the consciousness. So people with misophonia need not necessarily have hearing damage, but people with hearing problems can also suffer from misophonia.

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What are the causes of misophonia?

It is assumed that there is a connection with negative experiences that were made in childhood and that are associated with the noises in question. Trauma later in life could also play a role in developing misophonia.

Research into misophonia is still in its infancy and the exact causes are not yet known. It is also unclear how many people suffer from misophonia.

Can you test misophonia?

There is no special test for misophonia. Since these are subjective auditory impressions, misophonia cannot be detected with objective tests. However, researchers have managed to measure increased activity in certain brain areas in brain scans using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) while the disturbing noise was perceived. In general, it is important to take people with misophonia seriously when reporting on their problems. They suffer from an auditory disorder that severely affects their everyday life. Statements like “don't be so sensitive” misjudge the seriousness of the situation and are counterproductive.

What are the treatment options for misophonia?

The first point of contact if misophonia is suspected should be the ENT doctor. He can rule out other causes for the noise sensitivity. If there is indeed a misophonia, behavior therapy can help. Work is underway here to make the noises in question more relaxed. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, autogenic training, progressive muscle relaxation or yoga can also help.

Depending on their personal preferences, those affected can also cover unpleasant noises with positive sounds, for example with music from headphones. However, this merely avoids getting used to the noises, while behavior therapy is currently working on getting used to it. Concrete healing methods are currently not known, but people with misophonia can learn to deal with their changed hearing perception and to cope with everyday life.

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What is the difference between misophonia and hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis is a general hypersensitivity of the hearing to sound. All sounds and noises are perceived as louder than they actually are. Mostly there is a disease of the hearing organ. In people with hyperacusis, the volume of sounds in the environment exceeds the limits of what is bearable more quickly than in people with normal hearing. Misophony, on the other hand, only refers to certain sounds regardless of their volume. A quiet smacking, for example, in misophonia, can have the same unpleasant effect as a loud clink of a spoon.

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