Neural Repatterning Technique (NRT)
I developed the Neural Repatterning Technique in the spring of 2013. The treatment involves hearing an intermittent, very weak trigger while experiencing a positive situation, such as listening to your favorite music or talking about positive life experiences. The trigger is so weak that you don’t have the negative emotions, so the treatment is a very positive experience. It proved to be so successful that I decided to automate the treatment by creating a smartphone app available for iPhone and Android systems. The app is called the Misophonia Trigger Tamer, so this treatment is often referred to as the Trigger Tamer treatment.
Martha was a professional in her mid-forties with a lifelong history of misophonia ranging from mild to extremely debilitating. Efforts to decrease her symptoms included extensive work to reduce autonomic reactivity, which included breath work, relaxation techniques, noise reduction headsets, and musician earplugs. She reduced her misophonia to the point that she rarely experienced extreme misophonic emotions, but she was still occasionally agitated by one trigger. After listening to a recording of the trigger in preparation for the NRT treatment, she reported that she became aware of the muscles behind the ear contracting when she heard the sound. She used the NRT treatment for the trigger stimulus and eliminated the reflex. With the reflex gone, the real-life trigger stimulus no longer elicited negative emotions.
Misophonia Response and NRT
When we think about misophonia, we generally think of it as having a trigger and that causes us to have an involuntary, extreme emotion or fight-or-flight response.
But misophonia is actually a two-step process. You hear the trigger, there is a physical reaction, a physical reflex, and the physical reflex jerks the extreme emotion or the fight-or-flight response out of you. If we can stop the physical reflex then there’s no emotional response.
Therefore, the Neural Repatterning Technique is about stopping or reducing the emotional response to misophonia by first eliminating or reducing the physical misophonic reflex response. As shown below, the trigger stimulus causes a physical reflex in almost everyone with misophonia, and the physical reflex jerks the emotional response out of the person.
If we can eliminate the physical reflex, then it breaks the primary connection between the trigger and the emotions, as shown below.
Usually the physical reflex is not completely eliminated with the NRT treatment. The reflex is greatly reduced, and it can die out with time, or may remain weak, providing a greatly reduced emotional response to the trigger.
This case is about eliminating a trigger to a family member singing around the house.
“I think probably it was about three weeks into it I started realizing that this is really working, because I have to say that I did not think anything would work. I think a lot of people feel that way who have this. And of course when I was young I felt that I was the only person in the world that had ever experienced this. But after about three weeks I started seeing the improvement, and it was gradual but it was definite. And I could tell that the trigger was going away, and it was getting lighter. And then when I started experiencing the trigger in real life and realized I wasn’t having those emotions or that anger. It was like a miracle.”
The Neural Repatterning Technique is not an unpleasant treatment. It is happy time. Virginia describes the Neural Repatterning Technique treatment sessions, using the Trigger Tamer app:
“I’m almost seventy-five years old, so for all of these years I have just tried to avoid these sounds. After I got through the apprehension of the whole thing, I began to look forward to this treatment and hearing those sounds was amazing to me. It was life changing.”