I am a peaceful creature, but there are some sounds that send me into a blind rage. There are two names for this: Misophonia (“hatred of sound”) and Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome (4S, for short).
It’s a neurological condition, and we ADDers seem to have more than our fair share of it. I believe it’s one of the reasons why we can suddenly fly into a terrifying rage for no apparent reason, only to have it vanish a minute later.
For reasons that aren’t yet fully understood, certain sounds trigger the brain to unleash the “fight or flight” hormones that are essential when you need to escape from a life-or-death situation, but are dangerous when the “situation” is just someone chewing gum near you, and you feel an overwhelming urge to scream at them and rip their jaws off.
What’s interesting to me is that there’s a flipside to Misophonia: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR, for short), in which some sounds are so pleasurable to your brain that they trigger a release of feel-good hormones that leave you tingling and tearful with sheer pleasure.
It seems that one person’s ASMR is another’s Misophonia, because the common trigger-sounds are the same for both: whispering, clicky typewriter sounds, repetitive sounds, ocean waves, heartbeats, deep pounding bass, trickling water, thunderstorms, raindrops on different surfaces (tin roof, leaves, shingled roof), scratching, babies laughing or babbling…
I was reminded of this when I did a market research survey, a few days ago. It involved rapidly choosing one of two logos from an onslaught of moving images and words on the screen. If you got it right, there was a loud “reward” tone. There were ONE HUNDRED repetitions of this. Doing it at the high speed they required, meant that the loud beeps came at least once per second, ONE HUNDRED TIMES. I had to turn off the sound once I hit 25 repetitions. Just when I thought the torture was done, the damn survey made me do it again with different logos!
At the end of the survey, they asked if I had any comments.
I’m very proud that gave them a thorough schooling in Misophonia and Sensory Overwhelm, without swearing once. I received a prompt, sincere, and apologetic response from the survey company. It remains to be seen whether they’ll take it into consideration when designing future surveys.
What’s your Misophonia / ASMR experience?fuiryaParticipant
I have always had a hard time to stay calm around people eating, chewing noises and mouth noises in general makes my skin crawl. As a kid I couldn’t control it so I always had to eat dinner in a separate room. I always felt bad when it happened because I knew it was not their fault, but I would just feel enraged, confused and overwhelmed.
Nowadays I can control it a bit better. It’s still the same symptoms, just not as intense. Having some background noise or headphones is also a very helpful.somethingaboutmaryParticipant
I’m really glad to have come across your post as this is one more thing that resonates with me. (No pun intended hehe) I’ve imagined myself doing that market research survey and I definitely would have been cursing up a storm. I’m glad they apologized and yes, I hope they do take it into consideration for future projects.
In my experience, initially I thought that my misophonia were merely pet peeves of mine. I was very reluctant to share what I was feeling inside for the fear of appearing to be making excuses for being socially intolerant or straight up rude. It’s hard to explain this to certain individuals and for the most part I just wouldn’t bother unless I was with family or close friends.
For me it is mostly loud chewing, repetitive high-pitched beeps, and majority of loud, unfamiliar, repetitive noises. These seem fairly reasonable for the average person… right? So I never really thought twice about it. Though it became harder to ignore how overwhelmed I’d become with anger or how deeply offended I’d be; often I’d respond by avoiding exposure to such sounds or avoid expressing my true feelings/thoughts. The latter would primarily be the case as that is something I learned to master from a young age due to trauma alongside my social anxiety. The biggest concern for me is not being able to ignore certain sounds during times that require sheer focus and how easily/often my focus breaks.
I really like the point you made re: someone’s misophonia being someone else’s ASMR. This also makes me think about the possibilities of cases in which I’ve been conditioned, i.e. how I’ve been exposed to particular auditory stimuli often enough within similar circumstances, whether it be through positive or negative experiences. Perhaps this line of thought is what prevented me from relating this phenomenon to my ADD and thus, addressing it in the first place.
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