It’s Not You; It’s Me

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. . .

….

Do you suffer from misophonia?

Or anything similar?

18 thoughts on “It’s Not You; It’s Me

  1. I dislike intensely background music, whether it is on the radio, television or in shops I find it terribly difficult to cope with. I spent my entire working life working in noisy environments and as a result, suffer from noise-induced deafness. While I didn’t have a problem with the noise of engines or metalworking machinery the radio playing while working would sometimes move me to anger. I work in silence. I think in my case the deafness has made it more difficult to shut out the sounds that distract me in order to concentrate on what is being said or to give my attention to the task at hand.
    The thing I value most about having a Sunday paper round is the absolute Sunday silence, I cherished it in my teens and do now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many writers say that music helps them write, but to me it’s only a distraction (Muzak is just an annoyance). My husband’s deafness was probably initiated by his firearms training in the police – they didn’t wear earmuffs in those days. What he loves about the fens (and the only reason he wears his hearing aids) is the birdsong replacing the sound of London’s sirens wafting over from roads within earshot.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I share Phil’s intense dislike of background music – particularly in restaurants where the pace of the music is quickened so that we chew faster – yes, really. However, I have found that deafness can actually be a blessing sometimes. I am able to whip out the hearing aids which mutes the muzak (and at night-times, Himself’s snoring….although, sadly, not completely in either case). It is, in a way, divine retribution, perhaps; for many years I was a church organist, and unless you’ve heard a church organ at full blast in close quarters (which you can’t avoid when playing the thing) then it can be quite an experience for the uninitiated. I remember the days when dining out involved pristine white tablecloths, beautiful cutlery, elegant glassware, and a deferential maître d’ showing you to a table. Times are so different now that when we recently stopped for a coffee in a small cafeteria cum antiques shop next to a garage in Amble, I was moved to compliment the owners. They had the aforesaid pristine white tablecloths, no muzak, and it lifted it from just a quick stop to a special occasion. (It was Himself’s birthday….I take him to all the best places!) Other than that, the sadness of being deaf means that without my hearing aids, I cannot hear birdsong. We have bushes outside our lounge window that the birds often have their quarrels in, and unless I am wearing my hearing aids, I can’t hear them.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Very interesting Cathy. Who knew it had it’s own word?
    I suffer from tinnitus, which makes it very difficult for me to hear people talking to me, when surrounded by others conversing, as at our u3a groups and meetings. I try and watch their face carefully, but generally mishear, and with my ME, it takes a while to work out what people have said anyway… and people get impatient for a response. I do enjoy quiet places.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That must be a trial! David suffered from tinnitus for a few years after falling off a ladder and hitting his head close to an ear. He called it his tubular bells. He didn’t wear his hearing aid because he said it amplified the tinnitus. An unexpected side-effect of his triple coronary bypass was that his tinnitus stopped.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My eldest daughter definitely has this. When she was little, she often had to get up and leave the dinner table because she couldn’t stand the sound of her little brother eating. If I didn’t let her leave she would end up in tears, so I let her go.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My hubby suffers from misophonia too. Started when he was young and his father snuffled throughout their meals apparently. I’ve noticed him making a little more noise when eating now, but haven’t mentioned it yet. While it is annoying, it isn’t too bad and doesn’t bother me to the same degree, but he would probably be mortified if I drew his attention to it. Luckily (?) I have tinnitus, and have plenty of other noises going on in my head to focus on, so what’s one more?
    As for having the TV switched on while eating, well, it saves us talking to each other doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspect it’s more common than realised but we keep quiet. My husband’s tinnitus disappeared after his heart bypass, but nobody knows why. It’s a drastic way of trying to get rid of it though.

      Like

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