What Exactly is Misophonia

These sounds might be:

  • hearing someone eating with his or her mouth open,
  • sneezing,
  • coughing,
  • sniffling,
  • snoring,
  • chewing gum or
  • throat-clearing?

It’s when you feel rage when you hear:

  • certain birds,
  • other people’s noise (e.g. dogs barking, music)
  • A pen tapping

And all you want to do is run away or even lash out at the source of the sound?

You are totally:

  • disgusted,
  • annoyed and
  • irritated by those sounds.

You may experience:

  • A feeling of pressure in your chest and arms,
  • clenched teeth, and
  • tightened muscles.

There are so many questions?

Why are you experiencing these reactions?

Why have you these sensitivities to certain sounds?

And feel like you are the only one who has these problems?

After all other people report they barely notice those sounds that affect you so strongly?

The literal translation of the word misophonia is “hatred of sound” but I prefer the following definition to help explain to you your reaction to some sounds.

“ Misophonia is a condition in which a person reacts extremely negatively to certain sounds that most people take little or no notice of ” – Misophonia.com

The term “Misophonia” is relatively new. It was only coined in 2001. (Jastrabroff) Yet research has been going on for decades in the areas of “auditory over-responsivity,” and “auditory sensitivities”. In fact, the different ways in which the brain (or the nervous system) reacts to sounds have been studied in neuroscience for half a century.

Do I have Misophonia? Or is it something else?

It seems like only the other day, but it was over 30 years ago when I met my first client with unexplained sensitivity to sound. They could not tolerate any sounds louder than a whisper. This was my first experience of extreme sensitivity to sound. I was puzzled and it has led me to asking questions ever since.

There are 4 different types of sound tolerance problems.

In hindsight, I met my first person experiencing misophonia about 20 years ago while I was working in a Tinnitus clinic in Brisbane Australia.

I remember their words and strong despair, as they told me “I can no longer eat with the family. They disgust me and make me so angry. I have to leave the room. “

In the last 10 years, and the last 5 specifically, I have seen more and more people seeking help for their reaction to certain sounds and the debilitating effects it has been having on their lives.

There is currently no formal, validated assessment of misophonia. It takes time and research to come with such tools.

Hence, during a consultation with me, you will always be given every assessment questionnaire available today.


How about you fill out this questionnaire and see how you rate your misophonia.

Please rate the following statements by marking the rating column that describes your feelings about your sound issues.


0 = not at all, 1 = a little of the time, 2 = a good deal of the time,

3 = almost all the time

0 1 2 3
1. My sound issues currently make me unhappy
2. My sound issues currently create problems for me.
3. My sound issues have recently made me feel angry.
4. I feel that no one understands my problems with certain sounds.
5. My sound issues do not seem to have a known cause.
6. My sound issues currently make me feel helpless.
7. My sound issues currently interfere with my social life.
8. My sound issues currently make me feel isolated.
9. My sound issues have recently created problems for me in groups.
10. My sound issues negatively affect my work/school life (currently or recently).
11. My sound issues currently make me feel frustrated.
12. My sound issues currently impact my entire life negatively.
13. My sound issues have recently made me feel guilty.
14. My sound issues are classified as ‘crazy’.
15. I feel that no one can help me with my sound issues.
16. My sound issues currently make me feel hopeless.
17. I feel that my sound issues will only get worse with time.
18. My sound issues currently impact my family relationships.
19. My sound issues have recently affected my ability to be with other people.
20. My sound issues have not been recognised as legitimate.
21. I am worried that my whole life will be affected by sound issues.

Results: Add up each of the columns and then add the results together to give you a score out of 63.

If your score is

  • Between 0 – 15 You have a Normal to Mild reaction to certain sounds
  • Between 16 – 32 You have a Mild to Moderate reaction to certain sounds
  • Between 33 – 48 You have a Moderate reaction to certain sounds
  • Between 49 – 63 You have a severe reaction to certain sounds

Do you still think you have misophonia?

Are there any treatments for misophonia?

Of course, there are!

However, like the test to diagnose misophonia, there are no evidence based research results available on these treatment programs.

There is no cure for misophonia. Cures rarely exist in the health area. Any offer of a cure or fast recovery is likely to be a scam.

However, the good news is our understanding of how the brain reacts to aversive sound both internal and external gives us some clues.

“It is possible to take control of your misophonia and improve the quality of your life. “

I have worked with many people who have developed the ability to ignore or more importantly not notice those sounds most of the time.

This alone has been the difference between their reactions to those sounds being intolerable to being only a minor annoyance.

How? Tell me more?

5 Strategies For Subduing Your Misophonia

Let’s start with the desired outcome you want to achieve. I found it difficult to find the right word to define possible outcomes you would desire. So, I looked up the definition of “subdue” and this is what I found.

sub·due /səbˈd(y)o͞o/ verb

Verb: subdue 3rd person present: subdues past tense: subdued past participle: subdued gerund or present participle: subduing

  1. overcome, quieten, or bring under control (a feeling or person).: “she managed to subdue an instinct to applaud”.

What do you think of this word?

Just ask yourself, what would have to happen for me to feel ok about my reaction to those sounds?

I’d love to hear from you your thoughts on what it is you want?

5 Strategies to Implement Now For Your Misophonia!

Here are the 5 initial strategies you can take to reduce your reaction to those sounds.

  1. Seek a consultation with someone who specialises in the area of misophonia. You need to Identify if you have misophonia or if there is something else happening? Just having a consultation with someone who knows about misophonia appears to make a difference.
  2. Gain an understanding of how Audiology and Brain Science demystifies how and why you react so strongly to certain sounds. Just knowing how the hearing (auditory) system and brain works helps.

“It may be normal for your body to react the way it does, just it may not be useful for you.”

  1. Introduce more sound into your life rather than trying to block it out. It’s possible to use sound to reduce your awareness of those sounds.
  2. Reduce where possible long term use of earplugs and noise excluding headphones. Overuse can lead to other sound sensitivity issues.

You may find it useful to use earplugs and headphones with sound playing through them but it is not recommended avoiding sound altogether.

  1. Take up activities that grab your attention. Maybe learn some form of mindfulness, meditation, or exercises like yoga or Tai chi. Gentle regular exercise is important too. I teach more about this in my programs.

The journey to recovery is not unlike working on achieving a happy and fulfilling life. There is not one right answer. No one exact recipe that will work for everyone.

And sometimes in those moments, you will believe a problem exists where there is none. It may just be normal to feel disgusted in that situation.

You don’t need to believe it is your fault. That there is something wrong with you.

I don’t think I will ever be cured of wanting to find a better way of reducing your symptoms. Not that I believe cure is possible or useful by the way.

I do know that I will learn from you. I will experiment with what works and what doesn’t.

And I hope, just like me you will cut yourself some slack… and maybe give my treatment program a go along the way.

You may want to take up my offer of a short 15-minute complimentary consultation to work out if you would benefit from my treatment program. You can book your appointment online here.


Over to you

I’d love to hear your comments about this post. It is meant to make you think? What questions come up for you?

Your comments are appreciated at info@hearingcareprofessionals.com.au





Nolene Nielson is an experienced Australian Audiologist who is passionate about hearing. This article was first published at hearingcareprofessionals.com.au.