Just few years back, in 2010, Misophonia was recognized as an emerging rare disorder. It continues to be so. Till date, Misophonia is a relatively unknown disorder. Misophonia is a disorder related to hearing particular sounds. Psychologists call these individuals as Misophones. Their relationship with sounds isn't normal. Hearing particular sounds send Misophones into an unbearable frenzy.
Research on Misophonia is limited. The classification is still discussed. Studies are conducted by neurosurgeons, cognitive neurologists, clinical psychologists, neuro psychiatrists and animal psychics. Is Misophonia a Neurological, Psychiatric, or Auditory Disorder? There is an ongoing debate whether Misophonia can be classified as its own psychological disorder or it is just a symptom of underlying psychiatric disorder such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or generalized anxiety.
Misophonia is mostly regarded as a neurological disorder and is termed as selective sound sensitivity syndrome (4S) - a condition in which a person reacts extremely negatively to certain sounds that don't bother most people.
Upsetting, Annoying, Enraging Sounds
Literal meaning of Misophonia is 'hatred to sounds'. 'Miso' means dislike or hatred, 'phonia' means sounds. The sounds are everyday sounds. Nothing exceptional. The sounds can be loud or soft ones. Hearing these sounds make individuals with Misophonia angry, irritated, anxious, agitated, – all negative responses. From feeling moderate discomfort, the sounds can set in an intense panic and full-fledged rage.
Reasons for behavior
There are 4000 plus Misophones who post on web forums. Misophonia behavior is still being researched. In all probability, people with Misophonia could have unusually strong neural connections between sound-processing parts of their brains and their limbic systems (emotional systems) which regulate emotion. Simply put, it is due to criss-crossing of wires - the wires that affect hearing get crossed with wires that affect emotions.
Also, there seems to exist a connection with psychiatric conditions like anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. People with Misophonia develop a negative reaction to annoying sounds and gradually it becomes a natural behavior/reaction/response to these sounds.
Onset of Misophonia
Research conducted so far indicates that the symptoms often appear in late childhood, pre-teen or just before puberty and worsen with time. In some cases, Misophonia triggers are noticed in early childhood. If not attended to Misophonia persists entire lifetime. Initially the aversion is limited to a specific sound which later can include more sounds.
Reaction to specific sounds
Misophones respond differently to the sounds they hate. Mild feeling or severe response, the reaction could be any one of these. This is referred to as Misophonia Activation Scale.
There is no official treatment sanctioned by the American Psychiatric Association. The search for a specific cure is on. There are many potential coping strategies. Effectiveness of these isn't yet proved but has provided the much needed relief. Many have benefited from these. At least, the symptoms are reduced. Before opting for any of the coping strategies, check with a consultant on Misophonia – audiological physician or an ENT surgeon.
Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT): TRT teaches people with Misophonia how to improve their ability to tolerate the specific annoying noises. The combination of sound therapy and teaching/demystification/learning about mechanisms helps in remaining unprovoked.
Cognitive behavioral therapy: Initial sessions aim at deciphering the specific sounds, individual's thoughts and feelings associated with the sound. Subsequently, people with Misophonia are taught ways to improve thoughts thereby finding relief and feeling better.
Neurofeedback: Here is an expensive therapy that doesn't work for everyone and is not covered by most health insurance plan. Neurofeedback therapists or practitioners are trained to administer neurofeedback therapy. The session lasts 30 minutes. The therapy involves recording the waves of electrical activity emitted by the brain when EEG or Electroencephalography is administered. Electronic sensors attached to the ears and scalp read the brain waves when music and light/images are shown. The feedback is recorded and analyzed. The aim is to help the brain self-regulate or self-correct. Neuro feedback benefits the brain and body like improved sleep, heightened mental clarity and enhanced cognitive performances.
Sound therapy: Clinics that provide sound therapy play background noises to counteract trigger sound. The individual is conditioned to respond in a particular manner. The approach is to decondition the individual's response. Combined with psychological counseling, Sound therapy has proved effective for some individuals with Misophonia.
Clinical hypnosis: The focus is to help relax when the sound troubles the mind.
Check basics: Paying attention to the basics can help. A healthy and balanced diet combined with consistent and adequate exercise help manage stress thereby reducing the intensity of triggers.
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Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: May 25, 2022