Suppose a person is triggered by a baby crying. This could be misophonia, but maybe not. The way to tell is to perform two tests. The general principle is that we need to rule out that the person is responding to the volume of the trigger or to the meaning of the trigger – in this case, a baby in distress. Both of these can be tested using a recorded trigger. First, test to see if the person is triggered by a low volume cry. The crying needs to be a real trigger with the volume reduced by distance or by playing the recorded crying at lower volumes. If the person is triggered regardless of volume, it is probably misophonia. Next see if the person is upset by the meaning of the trigger by making it obvious that you are using a recording. Because it is a recording, there is no baby in distress who needs to be helped, and the person knows the baby is not in distress. If the person is triggered to a soft sound (low volume crying) where the meaning (baby in distress) is not a factor, then the person has misophonia.
A person has misophonia if they have at least one trigger that creates the extreme emotional response in one setting. Of course, a clinical definition of misophonia will take into account the impact of the triggers on a person’s life, but such a level has not been specified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which is used by psychologists and psychiatrists, or the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) which is used by health care providers.