Misophonia – in five voices

This is a ghostwriting exercise in which I attempted to write an article using the voices of five famous people or characters – one for each paragraph. The voices are those of Christiane Amanpour, Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Colbert, Alex Jones (yes, I went there), and Bernard Black. Can you match the voices with their paragraphs?

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Let’s talk about misophonia. No, it doesn’t mean eating miso soup while talking on the telephone – but that would really annoy someone with misophonia. The word misophonia comes from Greek and means “hatred of sound.” It’s also called “sound-rage,” which coincidentally was the name of my metal band in college. A person with misophonia has intense emotional and physical reactions when they hear certain trigger sounds. Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, and it’s difficult to diagnose because it’s a mental problem and not a hearing problem – a person with misophonia has normal hearing, but sounds affect their brain or nervous system differently. It was officially recognized in 2001 – before that, it was just called being a social curmudgeon.

People suffering from misophonia are triggered by many different noises. Roughly 80% of triggers are mouth noises, such as gum chewing, slurping, crunching, talking with one’s mouth full, sucking and loud breathing. Repetition is also a factor, and people with misophonia often develop visual triggers as well – merely seeing someone pacing, chewing silently, fidgeting or bouncing their legs may trigger a reaction. Reactions are both emotional and physical, and can include intense rage, anxiety or panic, a desire to cause physical harm, disgust or hatred, leaving the room or dinner table and even suicidal thoughts.

If someone you love has misophonia, know that they really do mean it when they say a noise bothers them. Their emotions are valid, and their needs are valid. If they ask to eat in another room, be sympathetic. It’s not that they don’t love you; it’s just that the trigger noises are too much for them and they might be afraid of acting on the emotions that come up and going crazy in front of you. Don’t take it personal – they don’t see it that way. Remember they will have to deal with thoughtless people every day who won’t take them seriously, so make sure you’re not one of them. Even though more people are becoming aware of this disorder, lots of people still respond like this:

“We live in a world of trigger warnings. They’ve got these millennials all coddled with their safe spaces, and microaggressions, and PC jargon. That’s the old news. The new news is that just eating your dinner could be a trigger for some people. Misophonia, they say. What is misophonia? It’s an excuse for so-called sufferers to whine about everyone else. What’s next, a war on chewing gum like Singapore? This laundry list of phony disorders is just the beginning. Next we’ll have people claiming disability just because they can’t cope with real life. Total bull! The doctors who diagnose all this crap are puppets of the government, and what they want is a dumbed-down population that can be easily controlled.”

Ignore rubbish like this. You need a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and a place where people will leave you alone. There is no cure for misophonia, but you can live a perfectly normal life if you stay away from filthy monsters who eat crisps in your space. Some clinics have developed programs like counseling, sound therapy and exposure therapy. Join social media support groups so you can complain about your triggers without actually having to go out among people. If you need any medication, just ask your therapist – or the local pub.

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