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MISOPHONIA: A DISORDER OF EMOTION PROCESSING OF SOUNDS
  1. Sukhbinder Kumar,
  2. Olana Hancock,
  3. Thomas Cope,
  4. William Sedley,
  5. Joel Winston,
  6. Timothy D Griffiths
  1. Auditory Group Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University Medical School, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4HH, United Kingdom

Abstract

Objective Sounds of chewing, breathing, keyboard typing are considered by most people as 'normal' sounds and are ignored as background sounds in everyday listening. However, for a group of people these sounds are not only distracting but also evoke a strong feeling of anger accompanied by an urge to escape from the situation producing these sounds. This condition, marked by sensitivity to a selective group of sounds, was given the name “misophonia” (hatred of sounds) almost a decade ago. Since the sounds that act as “triggers” in this condition are quite common at home, work place and in social gatherings, misophonia has devastating effects on social, family and personal life of the sufferer. Presently misophonia is not featured in any official medical/psychiatric classifications. People with misophonia suffer in silence because they do not share their problem with others for the fear of being called “crazy”. The objective of the current work was to check the consistency of profile of symptoms and trigger sounds in a population of subjects with misophonia.

Method A group of subjects were assessed by a group of neurologists in a neurology clinic. To further assess the symptoms/triggers in a bigger population, a questionnaire was designed asking questions about symptoms/triggers etc which was then posted on a website dedicated to disseminate information about misophonia. People were requested to fill-in the questionnaire and send back by email.

Results The assessment in the neurology clinic confirmed a striking similar profile of symptoms and triggers in the individuals. A group of 195 subjects filled-in the questionnaire posted on the website. Analysis of 157 questionnaire showed:

Mean Age of Onset =12.08 years [5–50]

146/157 (93.0%) describe eating sounds as triggers

135/157 (86.0%) describe anger as the dominant emotion (other emotions include panic/anxiety)

132/157 (84.0%) describe leaving the situation which produce trigger sounds.

Conclusion Our data indicate that misophonia is a disorder of emotion processing of sounds which need to be investigated further.

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