There are things that other people do that drive us nuts. Personally, I am beyond irritated when people talk when their mouths are full of food. It is actually possible to talk while your mouth is full without being horribly disgusting to those at the table with you, but doing so is a skill, and it isn’t exactly a skill you learn at university. You basically have to cover your mouth with your hand while doing so, and you should really only talk in that condition if not responding to what was said to you would be considered terribly rude by your dining companions.
Noisy chewing is a bother to many, and we all know noisy chewers. They are the people who chew their food as if it is their job, not a way of making their food easier to swallow and digest.
If you are one of the many who find the sound of noisy chewing just plain awful, you are not alone; sadly, you also might have a genuine mental disorder. You may have a condition known as misophonia. The condition, first named over 15 years ago, is used to describe those of us who hate specific sounds. Those sounds can and do trigger negative thoughts and emotions. Apparently the hatred for those sounds can negatively impact one’s ability to achieve life goals and hinder the enjoyment of social situations.
Now that I’ve learned about it and thought on the condition, claiming that I have misophonia sounds like a great way to get out of parties I don’t wish to attend.
All joking aside, it really is a serious condition that impacts a number of people, to the point many online support groups have been formed. While there hasn’t been much research regarding how common it is, American talk show host and former soap star Kelly Ripa is known to have the condition.
There are no known risk factors for developing misophonia, per se, but it is believed to be related to the condition known as tinnitus, which is when you hear a sound and yet no sound is present. There’s also a potential link to anxiety disorders and may be caused by a central nervous system issue, not anything to do with the ears. It isn’t really known whether misophonia is a condition or simply a symptom of another condition.
To those who don’t genuinely suffer from misophonia, the condition sounds terrible; it may disrupt lives in severe ways, resulting in the need for professional therapy. It can, for example, induce a rapid heartbeat as well as sweating. The brain simply goes into overdrive as a result of hearing the sound or sounds that trigger the person’s misophonia.
Most of the sounds that trigger misophonia are related to the mouth; chewing has been mentioned as an example, and gum popping is another. The sounds are usually soft, and visual triggers may end up developing due to the sounds.
If misophonia is impacting anyone you know, please understand that those with the unfortunate condition are generally well aware of the fact that the condition isn’t exactly normal. The condition may have started when they were just a small child.
As mentioned above, gum chewing sounds are actually triggers for misophonia. In case you’re worried that chewing gum is driving your friends and/or relatives mad, do remember that gum chewing actually has several benefits. Well, your choice to chew gum is beneficial to you, anyway—maybe not to them.
For one, according to Nutritional Neuroscience, chewing gum may make you more alert, and it can even make you better at multitasking. It also positively impacts reaction time and the encoding of new information.
And yes, while eating around a person with misophonia can definitely trigger their very real condition, people sort of have to eat, and sufferers probably shouldn’t have agreed to have dinner with you if their condition is truly severe.
All joking aside, there are several online resources that exist to help people cope with misophonia. As the condition can manifest as anger towards the person making the unpleasant sounds, it is important for those living with people suffering from the condition to be aware that there is help out there.