What is Misophonia?

By Happiful,
updated on Sep 12, 2017

What is Misophonia?

A brief overview of the overwhelming sensory condition


Misophonia is a debilitating medical condition where sufferers develop an extreme sensitivity to everyday noises, usually eating and breathing sounds. Misophonia is often triggered in childhood, typically after an emotionally significant incident. The “trigger” is often a family member and the afflicted becomes hypersensitive to a certain sound that person makes or draws attention to. Their reaction can range from irritation to anger, and even violence. There’s no increase in auditory activity, but rather an enhanced limbic (emotional) and autonomic nervous system (ANS) response, producing an overwhelming discomfort and a “fight-or- flight” reaction. The primitive part of the brain overtakes the cognitive. Conscious control and the ability to discriminate between genuine threats and harmless ones disappears.

Neuronal networks between the ear and the brain detect unpleasant or threatening sounds first in order to avoid them, and activate a reflex response to prepare for danger. Sufferers of misophonia don’t just hear sound, but feel it. That painful sensation leads to a cortical and adrenaline rush and its resultant overpowering emotion.

The neurophysical model

This model considers the interaction between the limbic, ANS and auditory systems. The limbic system controls our emotions and is connected with all five sensory systems. The ANS is responsible for regulating functions in the brain and body over which we have no direct control. In misophonia, connections between the auditory, limbic and ANS are enhanced. Reactions to specific sounds are governed by conditioned reflexes.

Misophonia is often triggered in childhood, typically after an emotionally significant incident

The biochemical model

This questions whether misophonia could be an inherited neurological disorder, perhaps from a damaged gene or overactive nervous system.

Psychological models

This looks at the connections with compulsive disorders like OCD, or the learned emotional response of a phobia. Various medications have been prescribed and many therapies suggested (hypnosis, cognitive behavioural therapy, sound therapy etc.). Sequent Repatterning therapy, developed by Chris Pearson, has been producing some excellent and long-lasting results. Although few published results are available, the good news is that brain plasticity makes relief for these sufferers possible.

Read the full article on Hypnotherapy Directory.

Written by Tara Economakis, DipAdvHyp (N-SHAP) MNRHP UKCP

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