What is Misophonia?
Misophonia describes a neurologically based disorder in which auditory stimuli (and sometimes visual) is misinterpreted within the central nervous system. Individuals with misophonia are set off or “triggered” by very specific patterned sounds, such as chewing, coughing, pencil tapping, sneezing etc. Pawel and Margaret Jastreboff termed the disorder in 2001, in an effort to distinguish it from hyperacusis. Hyperacusis and Misophonia are both disorders related to “decreased sound tolerance.” However, hyperacusis is a condition in which auditory information is unbearably loud. In Misophonia, it is repeating (or patterned sounds) that are intolerable. The Jastreboff’s (2001) originally hypothesized that in Misophonia pattern-based noises trigger an over reaction in the limbic system (where emotions are mediated in the brain). Therefore, auditory stimuli leads to an emotional response that causes the sufferer to feel anger, fear, disgust, or a generally “out of control.” While the Jastreboff’s distinguished between hyperacusis and misophonia via their symptoms, the confusion between the two disorders is far from resolved, as is the etiology of either disorders.
Is There a Treatment or Cure?
There is no official treatment or cure for Misophonia. In fact, research has yet to even conclude what exactly the disorder is. At this time it would be ethically irresponsible to promote any treatment or cure. A sensory diet may be beneficial for sufferers of Misophonia, if it is in fact SPD SOR. As well, a therapist may be able to help with Misophonia. Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout-Kanter’s website, www.misophonia-research.com, features an FAQ section on this particular topic.
The IMRN is currently facilitating research programs with STAR Institute, NYU (with LeDoux Labs; Joseph LeDoux), and Duke University (Zachary Rosenthal). The IMRN is also supporting the study by Stephen Porges.
The IMRN advisory board is available at the following link (it includes Dr. Lucy Miller): misophonia-research.com/advisory-board/
Those that believe they have Misophonia can visit a provider site that lists various types of professionals and support persons. Updated regularly. It can be found at: www.misophoniaproviders.com.
Have Misophonia? Join the Cause
www.misophoniaawareness.org aims to encourage sufferers to take control of their own disorder and engage in an awareness campaign for research and awareness.
How are Misophonia and SPD (SOR) Similar?
SPD SOR and Misophonia share a remarkable symptom overlap. In both Misophonia and Sensory Over-Responsivity auditory stimuli sets off fight/flight, leaving the sufferer feeling angry, fearful, disgusted and/or “generally out of control” as the Jastreboff’s originally suggested.
The research in Misophonia is in its infancy. However, an impressive body of research in Sensory Over-Responsivity has emerged over the last 15 years. The work in Sensory Over-Responsivity includes numerous physiologic studies demonstrating that upon presentation of sensory stimuli children and adults are propelled into the fight/flight response. Due to the symptom overlap it is important that Misophonia researchers collaborate with SPD researchers in an effort to understand the similarities and differences between the disorders and also to inform the Misophonia research in general.
The above information was written by Jennifer Jo Kanter-Brout Psy.D