Sunday, May 22, 2016


Today's random blog post features my empathy for the woman describing her misophonia - an abormally strong aversion to certain sounds such as eating noises - in this New York Magazine interview. I have a mild version of what she's talking about, although I've read of others in even worse situations who can't go to restaurants or parties.

The woman interviewed seems to have acute hearing and a wide range of noises that drive her to distraction. For me it's mainly lip-smacking and chewing with the mouth open. Of course those things bother lots of people, but maybe twice a month they bother me to the point where I have to do something, put on earbuds or move to a different seat in a coffee shop/bus/theater.

There's definitely a psychological component to it - the saving grace for me is that loud chewing noises don't bother me if I'm also eating, and those two overlap the vast majority of the time. Like the woman interviewed, children eating noisily doesn't bother me. I've also spent a lot of time in Asia where the norm in some places is to slurp noodles, which doesn't bother me, mostly. My hearing is average, not acute. All that makes me think it has to be partially psychological.

Reading her interview gave me an interesting gender perspective - I've been self-critical about not getting over it, but being male means I've never wondered if I'm just a bitch.

And then there's the issue of who deserves criticism - the public lip-smackers and open-mouth eaters, or me for reacting so much to it. My guess is that I'm close enough to normal range that I can manage my response to close-to-normal levels, but people who have a more severe problem really can't help it. Maybe I'll do some special pleading for them, and I'll be the lucky beneficiary on the side.


Fernando Leanme said...

She could try wearing headphones and playing Puddles the Clown singing "Team"?

This is an unpaid political commercial

jrkrideau said...

I am sympathetic. I dislike loud eating sounds but can tolerate it but I find modern jazz physically painful and will flee if at all possible.

David B. Benson said...

It is all in your head, Brian. Slurp right back at 'em!

PG said...

I have a similar reaction to the sound of passionate kissing. I'm a motion picture production sound mixer and when actors have to perform a passionate lip lock I have to mute my monitoring.

I'm not the only one. I was relieved to hear others in my line of work express the same revulsion.

Hank Roberts said...

> being male means I've never wondered if I'm just a bitch.

I seem to have missed that male privilege card when my set was dealt out.
Or, having worked in SF for most of my life, these lines blur.

Unknown said...

I have suffered from this all my life. Family dinner was as close to hell as I want to get. There was no way I could communicate this to my family and taking my food away from the table to eat by myself was just not an option. Sniffing and runny noses is the worst and it is everywhere. Imagine trying get through any class where at least a couple of kids will always have a runny nose. I am sure it hindered my learning ability and any chance at higher education.