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Misophonia: hatred of certain irritating sounds

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The list of mental disorders that can harm our quality of life grows as cases of patients suffering from problems difficult to conceive become known for a long time behind.

Misophonia, or selective sensitivity to low-intensity sounds, could be one of the new mental disorders to be added in diagnostic manuals such as DSM.

What is misophonia?

Misophonia, which means "hatred of sound", is described as a mental disturbance that occurs when low-intensity everyday sounds cause too much discomfort. Hearing someone chew, the sound of a pen sliding on paper, or the sound made by certain people wearing rubber soles when they walk on a smooth surface can be torture for people with some form of misophonia, since they have very little tolerance for certain types of stimuli auditory.

Thus, where there is misophonia, there is a too low tolerance threshold for certain low-intensity noises, which causes them to trigger a state of stress, anger and strong discomfort in the person who experiences it, depending on the type of noise that he dislikes: the noise when chewing, the throat clearing of a person, etc.

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The consequences of the "hatred of sound"

People with misophonia are distinguished from the rest of the population in the degree to which they feel discomfort about everyday sounds that are not heard loud enough to damage the hearing system and generate pain. Many people may notice that they are "angry" to hear many times how their partner chews, but people with misophonia feel so bad about certain types of sounds that are able to modify their habits so as not to have to listen to them, which often leads them to isolate themselves in an area they consider safe, or to use ear plugs in certain contexts.

Furthermore, since the connection between auditory stimuli and the appearance of the state of discomfort is so direct, many times they suddenly become in a bad mood, which can lead to discussions in the family environment or in the circle of friends.

Possible new mental disorder

The first time someone used the term "misophonia" was in 2000, when neuroscientists Pawel and Margaret Jastreboff described a psychological disturbance characterized by a low tolerance to specific sounds. Due to the recent nature of this concept, its causes and the level of incidence it has on the population are currently unknown. However, it is believed that its cause is in the brain, where the activation of neurons associated with an auditory stimulus would be associated, in turn, with a stressful or irritating experience. At the moment, it has already been experimentally demonstrated that people with misophonia show greater conductivity on their skin when they are exposed to sounds that they find stressful, something that does not happen with the rest of individuals. It is an immediate physiological reaction.

Furthermore, the seriousness of certain cases of misophonia has led several researchers in recent years to defend the idea that this phenomenon should be included in the diagnostic manuals for mental disorders, to be able to easily identify this alteration and develop research and treatment programs on the basis of consensual.

At the moment, a tool has already been developed to help identify cases of patients with misophonia, the Misophonia Activation Scale, with 11 degrees of intensity in the symptoms: from the absence of discomfort when listening to a sound to the use of violence triggered by the strong discomfort produced by a noise.

Treatment for misophonia

Like what happens with tinnitus, treatment proposals for cases of misophonia are based on proposing strategies to live with this disorder, either through cognitive-behavioral therapy or teaching specific strategies to protect oneself from the sound that produces aversion without affecting emotional and family life greatly.

Until a solution is discovered to make the symptoms disappear, the intervention focuses on teaching coping strategies and ensure that the family, friends, and co-workers of the person with misophonia are aware of their needs and know what to do in each case.

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