It was my first job after school. After some early pleasantries, the staff room where ate my packed lunch would descend into funeral-grade silence (it was a public library, after all; everyone was reading new arrivals). The sound of my own crunching seemed to reverberate in my head, although my mouth was closed and nobody looked my way or tutted. Nevertheless I was embarrassed, since the sound of people eating is one of my pet hates.
I recall cringing at the Sunday dinner table in my teens. Sunday was the only time the family ate together by the time I was twelve. Even the Billy Cotton Band show on the radio, followed by Round the Horne, couldn’t dampen the sound of my father eating; it was a weekly torture. Is it so difficult to close the mouth after the food has gone in?
He wasn’t the only one.
I still wince at the sound of slurping, chomping and crunching from noisy eaters. Those adverts on TV which used to feature crisps or breakfast cereal being crunched would have me reaching for the mute control. Fortunately, the advertising agencies no longer seem to consider that an inducement to buy.
I sometimes wondered if it was just me, being intolerant, but a couple of years ago, an article in the UK Daily Mail (that I can’t now track down) interviewed women who feel moved to murder their husbands over the dinner table. I thought, I’m not alone.
An article I did track down while searching for the one mentioned above, gave this condition a name (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-9645599/One-five-driven-distraction-sound-eating.html).
Misophonia, also known as sound sensitivity syndrome, means hatred of noise. Offending sounds – usually eating, drinking or sniffing – prompt feelings of intense anger and disgust. According to researchers from Newcastle University, up to one in five of us suffer from it, and the typical age of onset is about twelve. Which kind of fits with my memories. I don’t remember it bothering me as a younger child.
It appears that mine is not one of the worst cases when compared to women interviewed for the article. Nevertheless, in a quiet room I’m still moved to sit with my fingers in my ears (if I can look as if I’m resting my head in my hands) in an attempt to mute the sounds of someone’s munching.
As far as I can recall, the article I can’t track down interviewed only women, and the article linked above, written by a misophonic woman, quotes other women. No men.
Is this something only women suffer from? I looked it up.
According to an article I found online, misophonia is a genuine abnormality of the brain. (Something family members have suspected for some time.)
In a recent study, MRI scans showed a marked difference in the brain structure of those who have misophonia and in the way their brains react when hearing trigger sounds.”https://www.healthline.com/health/misophonia
The article also confirms that…
The onset of misophonia is generally before puberty, with the first symptoms occurring most frequently between the ages of 9 to 12.
More women than men have misophonia.
People with misophonia tend to have higher IQs.
The initial trigger sound typically is an oral sound from a parent or family member, and new triggers arise over time.
There’s likely a genetic component as it often runs in families.https://www.healthline.com/health/misophonia
(I refer those family members mentioned earlier to point 5.)
I am in particular agreement with point 3 above, but – as already admitted – I am only mildly misophonic. So far, I have not been moved to assault or confront the noisy eaters.
But there’s always a first time. . .