Misophonia


Misophonia: a compound noun that derives from the greek words misos (=hatred) andphoni (=voice/sound). Those who suffer from misophonia are not able to tolerate certain sounds, even as simple as somebody chewing, speaking, sighing, even breathing. When they hear a "trigger sound" they have an uncontrollable outburst of anger, they throw a fit, they start screaming while covering their ears, they might even attack the source of the sound. This condition results in social isolation. People who suffer from this condition usually spend the majority of their days alone in their room trying to avoid the sounds that trigger those reactions.

A couple of weeks ago I met with someone who suffers from misophonia. What I found fascinating, and, apparently, it's quite common, the best escape for him is listening to music. If he has to leave the house, he wears his headphones and listens to his favorite songs (not all music is tolerated...). When he's not alone at home, he goes to his room, puts his headphones on, and stays there until everyone goes to sleep. His favorite music: female opera singers. He can't tolerate the singing of male voices. He can't tolerate the sound of a guitar, any percussion, bass, trombone, or tuba. He loves soprano voices, the flute, the violin, and most piano music. Most other instruments (we tried to cover as many as possible) are tolerated.

Here's what fascinates me the most. This boy can't tolerate his mother's voice. For me, the most soothing sound I have ever heard on this planet is my mom's voice. Not because there is some special quality to it, but because her voice is the one thing that has always comforted me without fail since I can remember. The concept that this young boy cringes, screams, and runs away when he hears the sound of his mother's voice makes my head spin. Yet, he finds comfort in music.

This condition is still a medical "mystery" and clinicians are starting to experiment with various possible treatments. For now, a pair of headphones or earplugs might be the only way out. This really sounds miserable, doesn't it?


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