Tom’s Introduction to Misophonia

Friday, August 31, 2012. I was working as a parent coach when a mother contacted me asking for help with her difficult daughter and the disruption she was causing in their family. She explained the extreme behavior and her daughter’s unusual hatred of the breathing and eating sounds of her parents. She said it was called “misophonia” and there was no treatment for it. It was like a lightbulb went on in my head. All of a sudden, my daughter’s irrational complaining about my loud chewing made sense. My daughter had misophonia also. She was now an adult with her own children and one of them had misophonia also.

My retirement income supported me and I had extra time, so I decided to investigate misophonia. My training as a behavior scientist taught me that there were two general classes of human behavior. The first is purposeful behavior – the things we do. The second class of behavior is reflexes – all the things that our body does automatically, including emotions. Misophonia was clearly an emotional response, so I decided to apply my training to this new and mysterious condition. I love a challenge, and this was definitely a challenge. I love to help people, and this seemed like a worthwhile way to help my family and others.

I am also a very tenacious and determined person. When I set my mind to accomplish something, I stay focused and keep moving forward, despite surprises and roadblocks. Understanding misophonia has been an exciting challenge with many surprises and roadblocks. It has also been technically challenging developing methods to treat misophonia, including developing smartphone apps, but the opportunity to help others has been very rewarding. We have made great progress, but we still have much to do.

It is my hope that this book will help you understand misophonia. If you love someone with misophonia, I hope this book will give you an appreciation of what your loved one is experiencing. I also hope it will help you realize that misophonia is

a real condition and that the person can’t simply “snap out of it.” If you have misophonia, you are not crazy, and you were not just born this way. I hope this book will help you make immediate changes that can reduce the agony and emotional upheaval of misophonia, and that you will understand how you can start the process of overcoming this condition. It took years to develop all of your triggers, and it will take time to overcome them. I wish you well in your new journey to overcome your misophonia. So let’s get started.

Misophonia is a condition where a person has an extreme emotional response to commonly occurring soft sounds or visual images. These are called “triggers” because they trigger the emotional response of anger and disgust. The anger may be any form such as irritation, anger, hatred, or rage. Triggers also demand your attention, and when they are happening, they prevent you from thinking about anything else. If you’re reading this book because you think you have misophonia, you’re probably thinking, “How can little noises have such an overpowering negative effect on me? How (and why) do such noises cause me to feel such irrational anger or disgust, and a complete loss of control?”

If you’re reading the book because someone close to you has misophonia, you have probably thought it inconceivable that the misophonic person has such an extreme response to something as harmless as the sound of a crunch from eating a chip or a sniffle. This just doesn’t make sense. At least at some point, you probably thought, this is all in their head. This can’t be real. But it is real – very real. And it is likely more horrible than you can imagine.

In this book, I’ll present stories of real people with misophonia. Some are my clients, and others are those I have met along the way. Each gave their permission to have their story included because they want to help others understand this condition. I’ve changed their names for their privacy. Here are two typical stories from people just like you who hope to find relief from this debilitating condition.