There has been a growing awareness over the last several years of an auditory phenomenon. It is called Misophonia.
Quite literally, Misophonia is a hatred of sound.
Individuals with Misophonia have extreme reactions to certain sounds we hear every day. They are actually hypersensitive to the sound.
We probably all have certain sounds that give us the chills, or set our teeth on edge. The sound of nails on a chalkboard, metal utensils scraping on a china plate, or some other shrill noise that bothers us. Sounds of feet shuffling, the slapping sounds of flip flops, the sound of someone popping their knuckles or chewing bubble gum, even the sound of doors closing can be annoying. But Misophonia takes this even farther. Misophonia is an extreme response to certain sounds. The individual with this problem will be driven to flee from the environment or could become very aggressive, just because they hear a certain sound. The individual may abruptly leave the environment, never to return. The individual suffering from Misphonia may start to isolate themselves from friends, family, and the world. Or they may become increasingly angry and lash out at those they care about.
What sounds bother these individuals? Simple everyday sounds. The sound of someone chewing, someone clicking a retractable pen, even a sniffle can trigger this fight or flight response or even a panic attack! For some of us, this may be an annoying sound, but we can deal with it. However, for individuals who suffer with Misophonia, it is such an intense reaction it interferes with daily normal activities. There are so many different sounds that can trigger a response from an individual with Misophonia. The most common triggers are sounds created by the mouth typically. And usually, it is the people we are closest to, our friends and family, that can trigger the worst responses.
There is no known cure for Misophonia, all we can do is to minimize the reaction to the triggering sound. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be helpful for some. Others have had some success using a noise to mask the sounds or make them less noticeable (like if they had tinnitus). I have known some individuals who wear headphones all day with soft music playing to drown it out. Whatever method they choose, a person suffering from Misphonia should not feel helpless. There are methods to try to help them get back to leading a normal life with sound.