If you ask me what my biggest pet peeve is, I will answer immediately with no hesitation: hearing people eat. Chewing, swallowing, whatever it is...I hate it.
For a while, I figured it was just me who would get physically upset about it. But as I asked around to friends and family, I realized I wasn't alone.
If you're like me and you hate the sound of people chewing, babies crying, loud breathing, or 'leaky' headphones, you probably have a condition called misophonia.
Misophonia has been discredited by a lot of doctors in the past, but Dr. Sukhbinder Kumar conducted a study which is putting doubters to rest.
The study looked at misophonia sufferers while they were hearing the noises that trigger them, as well as people without the disorder hearing the same noises. The patients with misophonia experienced heightened activity in the frontal love as well as the anterior insular cortex. The researchers suggest this evidence proves misophonia is a legitimate medical condition and not a 'pet peeve' as it is so often dismissed.
"My hope is to identify the brain signature of the trigger sounds – those signatures can be used for treatment such as for neuro-feedback," Dr Kumar says. "... where people can self-regulate their reactions by looking at what kind of brain activity is being produced."
Tim Griffiths, a professor of cognitive neurology, was one of those doubters of misophonia. But after seeing the evidence first-hand, he's changing his tune.
"I hope this will reassure sufferers," he said, "I was part of the skeptical community myself until we saw patients in the clinic and understood how strikingly similar the features are."
Olana Tansley-Hancock says she has been suffering from misophonia for over 20 years, but people didn't believe it was real. Even her general practitioner laughed in her face.
"I can only describe it as a feeling of wanting to punch people in the face when I heard the noise of them eating – and anyone who knows me will say that doesn’t sound like me," she said.
While the research is helpful in solidifying misophonia as a legitimate condition, the next step will be potentially finding treatment for those who suffer from it.
Do you think you might have misophonia?