Misophonia, literally “hatred of sound,” is a form of decreased sound tolerance. It is also known as Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome (4S).

It is believed to result from abnormally strong connections between the autonomic and limbic systems in the brain, rather than over-activity in the auditory system. The term was coined by American neuroscientists Pawel Jastreboff and Margaret Jastreboff.[1]

Unlike hyperacusis, misophonia is specific for certain sounds. Little is known about the anatomical location of the physiological abnormality that causes such symptoms but it is most likely high central nervous system structures.[2] It is unclear whether misophonia should be classified as a form of sensory processing disorder, which typically involves more than one sensory mode.[3]



People who have misophonia are most commonly annoyed, or even enraged, by the sound of other people eating, breathing, coughing, or other ordinary sounds. They are not normally annoyed by sounds that they themselves make. Reactions to these sounds are not limited, however, to just loud eating noises; people with misophonia find themselves affected by all kinds of noises.[4] Such reactions are also involuntary.

Often, people who have misophonia are also annoyed by other people's repetitive movements, such as leg-tapping, nail-biting, and typing.[5]

Sensitivity to these sounds tends to be exacerbated by stress or feeling tired/run-down.

The onset of the symptoms appears to have a characteristic pattern, often in childhood, just prior to or during puberty. Often there is a single trigger initially (a parent or sibling's noises), then the triggers expand over time to include both auditory or visual elements. It is speculated that there is a genetic basis for this disorder as the etiological data supports a similar pattern of emergence. However, this remains to be determined.

Coping methods and treatment

People with misophonia tend to use varying coping methods. Most people will simply avoid the sound and leave the room/area altogether, whereas some will try to block the sound with earplugs, music/listening to music on headphones and in more extreme cases, not socialise for fear of hearing the sounds. It is important to note that sensitivity to the offending sounds is often far more severe when the origin of the sound comes from a person that is emotionally connected to the sufferer.

Misophonia is not a well-known diagnosis and few treatment options are available. Anxiolytics have been prescribed to help patients feel calmer in situations that would normally cause anger.

Some therapists offer sound sensitivity training. They expose a patient to both 'pleasant' and aggravating sounds in the hope that doing so will reduce the immediate feelings of anxiety or rage, and eventually desensitise the person to the offending sounds. This method does not currently have supporting clinical data, however. A recent survey of two major related website support groups gathered a response base of only 19 people, 11 of whom had been officially diagnosed with misophonia, and none had found persistent or significant relief from this method.[citation needed]

The use of cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful in managing misophonia.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ tinnitus retraining therapy for patients with tinnitus and decreased sound tolerance Pawel J. Jastreboff, Margaret M. Jastreboff Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2003 Apr ;36 (2):321-36 12856300
  2. ^ Hearing: Anatomy, Physiology, and Disorders of the Auditory System Professor Aage R Moller, University of Texas at Dallas (Academic Press, 2006)
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3]

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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