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  • Just a noteThis episode contains eating, tapping and clicking sounds.

  • There's a fair chance there's a sound that annoys you.

  • Right?

  • Think about what that sound is and then consider this:

  • How does it make you feel?

  • For me, it's a sound my Mum makes.

  • Every night she heats up this weird barley milk drink and stirs her cup with a spoon.

  • Really loudly.

  • And I find it's so annoying.

  • So I've been interested in why some people have such strong impulsive and emotional reactions to common sounds.

  • Sure, some of us might be irritated, but other people get angry and even distressed.

  • Is there more to it?

  • Now, my friend Molly suffers from Misophonia.

  • The term literally means a hatred of sound and it's a sound sensitivity syndrome where

  • people have strong emotional or physical reactions to common soundslike eating sounds, clicking

  • or tapping, even certain materials rubbing.

  • It's easiest for me to start with scraping sounds – I feel like that bothers a lot of people.

  • So like...

  • That's bad.

  • But likethat's less bad.

  • And then likethat's okay.

  • And it's also textural

  • I feel like a lot of them are quite textural.

  • And when you scrape a rough ceramic alongside a smooth ceramic that's a horrible sound for me.

  • And people with Misophonia get more than annoyed by soundsthey experience distress.

  • Their hearts race, their chests tighten and their muscles become tense.

  • It actually hurts in my teeth quite a little bit.

  • I get like a weird, it's almost a vibrational feeling in the back of my molars.

  • It's almost tingle up my neck actually for that one.

  • It feels almost shrill.

  • So why do some people have these reactions?

  • Well, one explanation is that their brains are wired to react to sounds differently.

  • In a recent study, two groupspeople with misophonia and a control groupwere asked

  • to lay in an fMRI machine.

  • They were played neutral sounds, like rain on a window; unpleasant sounds, like a baby

  • crying; and trigger sounds, like someone eating.

  • And when these trigger sounds were played, researchers noticed a big difference between

  • the groupsin a brain area that helps you spot noticeable things in the environment and pay attention to them.

  • For those with misophonia, this area went into overdrive and it led to higher activity

  • in other areas of the brains, specifically those responsible for long-term memories, fear and regulating emotions.

  • This hyperactivity suggests people with misophonia aren't processing those particular

  • sounds the way they should and are reacting to them disproportionately.

  • They experience the anxiety of a life threatening situation when... it's just like their girlfriend eating chips.

  • But, how do we know that this hyperactivity doesn't happen in all of our brains when we hear something annoying?

  • Well, the participants also rated how much the sounds were annoying and distressful.

  • In those with misophonia, while the trigger sounds caused distress, the unpleasant sounds did not.

  • Just general annoyance.

  • And the researchers saw this reflected in their brain activitypeople with misophonia

  • didn't have the same hyperactive response to just unpleasant sounds.

  • But this is one of the only experimental studies on misophonia so it's not quite enough to be certain.

  • Though, we can find some other clues in our behaviour.

  • Well everyone gets annoyed by certain sounds ...”

  • This is Dr. Ali Mattu, a clinical psychologist with a great YouTube channel.

  • But for misophonia it's taking that to more of an extreme.

  • Where it is very quickly distressing.

  • The first reaction might bejust get me out of here.”

  • Though despite these extreme reactions that people experience, misophonia still isn't recognised as a disorder.

  • And this makes it really hard to get funding to do more research.

  • We're not sure what we're talking about when we say misophonia.

  • There's no agreed upon definition and there's no agreement right now about what are the key features.

  • You don't want to cast the criteria so wide that it would fit everyone.

  • Because then it's not something that's different and uncommon and impairing.”

  • For me, hearing sounds I dislike isn't impairing.

  • And this is an important distinctionsure we all get annoyed from time to time, but it's mostly trivial.

  • For people with misophonia the sounds that trigger them are distressful.

  • But if I hear a low sound that I really don't like, low vibrational sounds really

  • bother me, but they bother me in my chest.

  • I feel them very strongly and it makes me feel like I can't breathe.

  • The low sound definitely I feel like I gotta leave wherever I am.”

  • We need to convince people this is actually a thing.

  • So a lot more research needs to happen into what exactly is happening to the people who said they have misophonia when they experienced it.”

  • So consider that feeling you get when sounds annoy youit's probably pleasant compared to the strong reactions that people with misophonia have.

  • Just recognising that this kind of sound sensitivity exists and funding more research will help

  • us figure out why people have misophonia and the best ways to treat it.

  • And...

  • I probably should be nicer to my Mum.

  • For more on sound sensitivity disorders and specifically treating them, check out Ali's

  • channel The Psych Showit's great.

  • I did say that before.

  • But still, you should subscribe.

  • And I first heard about Molly's Misophonia on Mike Rugnetta's podcast Reasonably Sound

  • also recommend, there's a link in the description.

  • And one more thing

  • Hi, Vanessa wanted me to tell you all that now she has hats for sale.

  • You can buy these hats at DFTBA.com/braincraft

  • And you can wear them anyway you want!

Just a noteThis episode contains eating, tapping and clicking sounds.

Subtitles and vocabulary

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B1 UK sound people trigger sensitivity unpleasant annoyed

The Sounds That Are Unbearable (Misophonia explained)

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    Jenn posted on 2018/11/01
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