Wednesday, September 7, 2011


     I came across an article in the New York Times recently about misophonia. I didn't know what it was, except by experience, until I read the article. Basically misophonia is a hypersensitivity to certain sounds that can greatly distress a person, or even provoke rage or irrational thoughts. Though I do not think I have an extreme case, I have always been hypersensitive to certain sounds like gum chewing, traffic noise, or music/T.V. noise.

     In my first year of college living in a dorm was like torture to me. I also can remember a time when I kicked a sofa across a room because my sister was playing pool and listening to music on the floor below me. When she refused to turn down the music and made some snide comment, I basically freaked out and started screaming. Another time when I worked in an office, and a woman kept snapping her gum "very loudly," it nearly drove me crazy. I was puzzled that no one else in the office seemed to notice her annoying habit.

     Growing up my family members gave me a hard time about my sensitivities, especially my father. His attitude was: "What's wrong with you? Get over it!" My sisters and my Mom usually just teased me. Many times, though, I've felt extreme hatred towards people that make noise and seemingly have no consideration for others.

     We all have to get along and live in a very noisy, abrasive world. Personally I am distressed by noise frequently. I've even considered buying sound-blocking double pane windows to install in my condo.(They are very expensive) I can't imagine why every dwelling is not equipped already with double pane windows and well insulated walls. Who wants to hear the conversations of neighbors, traffic outside, or people thumping about?

     Here is a list of coping mechanisms I've developed over the years.
1. Earplugs
2. Fans/ Aquariums/ Water Blubbers/ Air Circulator
3. Classical Music

     In a related topic psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron has developed the theory of the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), and has written many books.Years ago I took her quiz and scored very high. Not surprisingly I am a HSP. HSPs have hypersensitivity to noise and other experiences. It seems that 'people like me,' or HSP's, have highly tuned nervous systems. Very little outside stimulation is required to arouse my senses, as I am already highly tuned. Hence, the environment can potentially frequently over-stimulate me and overwhelm me.

     Dr. Aron emphasizes both the good and the bad about being an HSP, and she gives lots of tips. The bad news is that the world is a very noisy, uncontrollable place for an HSP. The good news is that having a highly tuned nervous system can alert to danger more quickly. Also HSPs can appreciate the arts richly, and HSPs make good therapists and artists. (We certainly need plenty of those.) Indeed, perhaps our species might not have survived if it weren't for those one or two neurotic HSPs in the tribe, eyes wide open at night, alert to the dangers of attack.

1 comment:

Shelby said...

My understanding it has to do with the Gaba pathway in the brain. You have a dysfunction in your pathway or lack of Gaba causing you to freak out about the littlest things. There’s things you can do to fix this without taking toxic harmful drugs. Gaba is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate this part of the brain. You can take Gaba precursers to help this problem. But do not take straight up Gaba because the Gaba molecule is too big to be passing your blood brain barrier. If you do take Gaba and you feel anything from the norm, means you have a leaky brain. Which is a whole different situation. There are natural supplements you can take to help this. Trust me, I’m a living example. I now do not care to punch my clock. =]