For some people, there’s nothing more annoying than listening to a person chew. The sound of lips and gums smacking together is enough to drive even the most patient person crazy. It turns out, there’s actually a scientific reason why this particular sound drives people mad.
What’s doubly frustrating for people is that they understand that their annoyance is disproportionate to the sound, so they try to just ignore it. That, in turn, actually makes the person more annoyed. It’s a vicious cycle that science has found the answer to.
What It Is
This condition is called misophonia. It literally means “hatred of sound.” While it can be applied to the hatred of any sound, it’s often applied to chewing and other mouth noises.
For some reason, mouth noises are the most common noises that people hate. Things like chewing, whistling, and off-key singing can drive people who suffer from misophonia up a wall.
Some people might tell the sufferer to “just get over it,” but that doesn’t work. Telling someone that actually makes their response even greater. If a person really wants to get past their hatred of a particular noise, they have to take specific steps to do so.
Researchers studied the response of people with misophonia and how it impacted the brain. They found that it often begins between the ages of 9-13 and is more often found in girls than boys. Unfortunately, they aren’t sure what exactly causes people to develop these reactions.
In mild cases, people may just get a little irritated or annoyed. In more extreme cases, researchers found that it can cause aggression, rage, and even suicidal thoughts. Depending on how severe your disorder is, it may cause significant disruptions to your life.
Some people carry earplugs with them if they know they’ll be exposed to a particular sound that they hate. This can help you manage your condition, but it doesn’t really help you correct the underlying issues.
The only way to treat the problem is through therapy. There are no pills or other drugs that can minimize your annoyance to a particular sound. A doctor may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to help you cope in the short-term, but the only long-term solution is through therapy.
Doctors will often try to create positive reinforcements when hearing a particular sound. For example, if you hate the sound of chewing, they may have you eat your favorite food or smell your favorite smell while listening to someone chew. It’s meant to replace the anxiety with a more positive response.
There are also therapy groups that can help people cope with their condition. By going through talk therapy and group therapy, it’s possible that a person can learn how to manage their misophonia is a positive way.
Some people have reported success with these methods while others simply can’t get beyond their hatred of chewing. If your misophonia is severely disrupting your life, talk to a therapist or seek out a local support group right away in order to get this condition under control.