Since I discovered misophonia yesterday, I’ve had a few responses to my blog, (mostly on Facebook) and I’ve been looking at what people say on a Facebook group for misophonia (they call it ‘miso’ but I can’t. Miso is a Japanese food https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miso )
I’ve had a few more thoughts.
Firstly: it seems there’s quite a range of neurologically atypical sensory responses that have been researched and named, including one that seems to be almost exactly the mirror image of misophonia, where people experience intense pleasurable sensations in response to certain sounds, like eating. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_sensory_meridian_response
For me - the key characteristic of misophonia is the powerful emotional reaction that seems to have nothing to do with the stimulus - ie- feeling angry because of very specific sounds that some people make when eating. I began to wonder if it's actually a form of synaesthesia, which is when you get 2 very different sensory reactions to a sensory stimulus - like, seeing letters or words as colours. In this case, it's linking a particular feeling- anger- with a sensory stimulus - sound of eating (or whatever). So I found an article about synaesthesia which lists misophonia as a possible form of that.
That makes sense to me. My problem that certain eating-sounds trigger anger in me is troubling in itself. I’m usually very in touch with my feelings and I’m used to knowing why I feel something. I expect my feelings to make sense, and feeling random anger that switches on and off like a tap, is disturbing. Hence my sense of relief at discovering an explanation for it.
Secondly: A couple of lovely and dear friends have suggested they will alter their behaviour when we eat together in the future. I do really want to state that I feel this is my problem and it’s my responsibility to deal with it. I do not have the right to ask anyone else to alter the way they eat. I have never actually said anything to my mother about her eating style, even though I have witnessed (back in the day when she was mobile and visiting with friends or relatives) eyes swivelling to her when she was chewing. So her eating is loud enough to draw attention, even from people who aren’t bothered by it. But it’s her body and she has a right to do with it what she likes. And she can’t help her breathing which is caused by her COPD.
I have a dear brother who suffers from a painful condition where he gets polyps growing in his sinuses and when he eats his breathing is very audible. Actually, oddly, this does not bother me as much as some other eating sounds, but it is moderately hard. He can’t help this and I’d never make him feel bad about it. He actually suffers a lot of pain from his condition, so he is the one who deserves sympathy.
I have been stoically bearing this distress for over 60 years, (apparently most people don’t start misophonia till they’re older) and I know what I can cope with and what I can’t. Even when that partner I mentioned, started to eat sweets deliberately in my ear, I did not break up with her because of the sounds she was making – it was her deliberate attempt to distress me that made me lose all respect for her.
So please do not think you have to leave the room or anything else when eating with me. It’s actually more distressing to think that people are reacting like that to my confession, than to have to put up with the occasional munch. As I said in my article, I seem to get more tuned in and sensitive the more time I spend hearing the sound, so most people aren’t at that stage with me yet anyway.
I do however, give myself the right not to stay with anyone who eats in a really loud and offensive way. But I will find my own way to deal with that if it arises. Anyone who eats in a normal well-mannered way with me is safe.