Does hearing how someone chews their food make you want to claw your eyes out? You’re not alone.
We all have sounds that irritate us. However, there are people who would literally like to punch offenders when they are triggered by sounds like chewing, drinking, or breathing!
But they are not bad people, they are suffering from what scientists call Misophonia. It is more common than you might think. (source)
Misophonia isn’t about mere annoyance. People who suffer from it experience severe rage or anxiety that may prompt them to have to leave the room, avoid movie theaters forever, or even quit their jobs to get away from trigger sounds.
They might even start to think extremely hateful thoughts about a loving person that is producing the sounds, like they are looking at the greatest evil of the world.
Using MRI scans, scientists looked at the brain activity of misophonics and a control group as they listened to neutral sounds (rain), unpleasant sounds (a person screaming, a baby crying), and trigger sounds (eating, breathing, chewing, drinking).
When misophonics listened to the trigger sounds, activity flared in their anterior cortex, the part of the brain that processes emotion.
The researchers also discovered something all misophonics had in common was an “abnormal functional connectivity” in parts of the brain associated with memory.
“We think that misophonia may be heavily connected to recalling past memories, because people with misophonia have had very bad experiences,” says Dr. Sukhbinder Kumar, the study’s lead researcher of the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University.
Scientists claim that this is a genuine neurological issue. It’s possible that further study could provide a solution that doesn’t involve inflicting bodily harm on anyone who chews with their mouth open within earshot.