What is Misophonia?

Misophonia is a disorder that elicits a strong emotional reaction to certain sounds. Misophonia literally means "hatred of sound" and those with the disorder aren't fully in control of their reactions.  

The most common trigger sounds are usually either oral sounds, like people eating or breathing, or repetitive sounds like typing, or pencil tapping. In extreme cases, patients with Misophonia may feel anger just by looking at the trigger sound (such as a pencil or a keyboard).
While about 20 percent of the population probably has some degree of Misophonia, a very small percentage has it to a debilitating degree.

Nonetheless, those that do have a more severe degree of Misophonia often struggle both socially and professionally. A coworker breathing too loudly or tapping on his desk could cause a Miosphonia patient to lash out involuntarily.

Going on dates is also awkward if your date wants to go to a quiet romantic restaurant, and even dinners with friends can be excruciating.

Is Misophonia a Mental Illness?

Misophonia is not classified as a mental illness, though it is a disorder. Recent research has proven that the brain of a Misophonia patient responds differently to trigger sounds than the brain of a non-Misophonia patient.
In a Misophonia patient, the medial frontal cortex and posterior medial cortex (which processes emotions) are much more active when listening to trigger sounds.

Patients of Misophonia also display physical signs of distress, including an increased heart rate and sweating.

What Causes Misophonia?

Unfortunately, there is no proven cause of misophonia. However, it does tend to show up more in people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, and those that have tinnitus.

It usually shows up during puberty, and the initial trigger sound is typically a family member eating. Misophonia is more common in women than in men and tends to appear more in people with higher IQs.

Misophonia Treatment

Misophonia is a lifelong disorder and currently does not have a cure. However, there are treatment options that help people learn to live with the condition.

One of the most popular is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which helps the patient learn to associate positivity with trigger sounds that currently elicit a flight or fight reaction.
Counseling with the entire family may also be beneficial to help them realize that the anger is not directed at them.

Finally, many Misophonia patients manage the disorder by using headphones whenever possible or using white noise to block out trigger noises.


If you or a loved one is suffering from Misophonia, know that most victims with Misophonia go on to have wonderful careers and families. It is manageable, and with a little understanding from loved ones, you'll still be able to carry on a normal life.