Some people need to be in a quiet space to focus properly while others need absolute dead silence.
If you often find yourself severely irritated by the sound of chewing, nail cutting, feet tapping, or sniffling, you might be surprised to find out the underlying cause.
A Condition You’ve Probably Never Heard Of…
Misophonia is a neurological disorder that causes intense negative reactions to specific sounds (1).
Mild triggers may cause anxiety, disgust, discomfort and the urge to flee while severe triggers can cause hatred, rage, panic, fear, suicidal thoughts and violence.
It’s estimated that 10% of US citizens and 60% of people who already suffer from tinnitus or other auditory conditions experience misophonia.
Instead of being caused by your ears, the condition is actually caused by your central nervous system, or more specifically- your sympathetic nervous system.
Researchers believe that the condition may have originated as a means to protect access to food and ward off thieves as humans evolved.
Misophonia typically begins to develop between the ages of 9-12 and intensifies with age to include more triggers.
While there is no cure for the condition, there are many ways to manage it, including white noise therapy, lifestyle changes, and psychological counselling.
The Silver Lining
Misophonia has long been experienced among creative geniuses, such as Proust, Franz Kafka, Charles Darwin, and Anton Chekhov.
A study by Northwestern University has cemented this link: “[the] research provides the first physiological evidence that real-world creativity may be associated with a reduced ability to filter “irrelevant” sensory information.”, the University said in a press release (2).
“ ‘Leaky’ sensory gating, the propensity to filter out ‘irrelevant; sensory information, happens early, and involuntarily, in brain processing and may help people integrate ideas that are outside of the focus of attention, leading to creativity in the real world, explains Darya Zabelina, lead author of the study.
“If funneled in the right direction, these sensitivities can make life more rich and meaningful, giving experiences more subtlety,” concludes Zabelina.
If you find yourself getting annoyed by the faintest sounds, simply get away from the trigger and get creative!