There are some people out there who report becoming annoyed to the point of rage at the sound of others’ chewing their food loudly.
The problem is more than just sensitivity to eating sounds. It can prevent people from enjoying meals with their family and friends, or distract them at business meals and functions.
Their reactions to someone scraping their plate or smacking their lips can range from disgust to harboring violent fantasies of the face-punching variety.
The name of the condition that causes such over-the-top reactions to everyday noises is misophonia, and it is a genuine psychiatric disorder.
People who suffer misophonia list pen-clicking, gum chewing, loud breathing, keyboard tapping and even someone fidgeting (among many other activities) as irritating to the point of rage.
It’s not a hearing problem, however. Brain scans show increased activity in the anterior insula when sufferers are triggered, as well as abnormalities in their emotional control mechanisms. In other words, they can’t help going bonkers when they hear and see someone chomping away.
Their physical reactions are real and include sweating and increased heart rate and blood pressure.
So if you feel anxious, panic or anger when you hear a repetitive, grating noise, you definitely aren’t alone.
Researchers aren’t sure how people develop misophonia, but it does start in childhood and isn’t related to any one event.
For people whose misophonia affects their lives to the point of high social anxiety, auditory therapy and counseling to develop coping mechanisms may help. Hearing devices to provide white noise for distraction are also available.
There is also support within the Misophonia Association. Based in Portland, Oregon, the association provides resources, advocacy and even a yearly conference for their members.
I imagine there are little to no crunchy foods available at their events, so attend feeling fully supported and heard.