For a person who suffers with misophonia, his or her personal triggers are a central fact of life. A trigger is a sound or sight that causes a misophonic response. It may be a sound someone makes when chewing, a slight pop of the lips when speaking, or a person whistling. For a person with misophonia, a trigger causes an involuntary reaction of irritation, and if the trigger continues, the emotions quickly become extreme anger, rage, hatred, or disgust. These emotions are jerked out of the person, and trying to stay calm when being triggered is futile.
The immediate negative emotions to a trigger are the hallmark of misophonia. Along with the emotions come physiological (bodily) actions that go along with such emotions. These include increased general muscle tension, increased heart rate, sweating, and feelings of overwhelming distress. When the trigger ceases, the emotional upheaval generally continues. Many people continue to hear the sound in their mind and replay the experience in their mind. While it may only take a few minutes for a person to become extremely distraught from the triggers, it can take hours for the person to calm down and resume normal life.
The impact of misophonia can vary from almost nothing to debilitating. I met a man who has only one trigger, and it’s the sound of a spoon stirring a glass of iced tea. The tinkle sound is intolerable for him, but no one in his family drinks iced tea, so he rarely hears that trigger. His misophonia has little to no impact on his life. On the other hand, I met another person who also has only one trigger, and it is ruining her life. Her trigger is the sound of two or more women talking to each other. As a student in a mostly female discipline, she is subjected to this trigger continually at school, making her school experience hellacious.