On Misophonia

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, the sounds people make while eating and drinking drive me nuts. That satisfied, “Aaah”, after a long drink, lip smacking, the sound of swallowing, it all makes me want to shout at people, or imitate them, but louder, and while glaring.

I don’t, usually. My anger management’s improved over the years, and it’s been quite some time since I chewed back at someone. That’s not to say it’s stopped bothering me, though. I don’t know of a way to make that happen – the best I’ve been able to find in years of looking into it and trying things is to have coping strategies. Good headphones make good neighbors, as does moving away from people who are eating.

On the whole, I don’t really like this as a solution set. I want it fixed, not just well-adjusted-to. I tried for a while to do exposure therapy on myself, intentionally exposing myself to people who were eating and smiling hard to manipulate my mood. A month of that didn’t make me any less sensitive, and I ended up dropping that project. From what I’ve read on /r/misophonia, it seems to be a sensory issue, like textural issues for some autistic people, in a way that doesn’t really allow for treatment the way a phobia does. Of course, we don’t have a Turing-complete understanding of the issue, so this may need to be updated, but for now it looks like something I’ll have to live with.

It’s annoying from a meta level to want to snap at people for things like open-mouthed chewing – the issue is still a thing in cases where I know they can’t help it – a friend of mine’s mouth really doesn’t work that way and they can’t chew with closed lips, but the anger rises all the same.

What cannot be cured (yet growth mindset!) must be endured, the song says, and I guess it’s true for the moment. It’s another reminder of how we’re trapped in physics, and how biology is far from perfect. In the Glorious Transhumanist Future I won’t be subject to this, but for now, I guess “Glarer at the Chewing” would be as reasonable as any of the other titles I claim when I’m feeling that particular sort of whimsy.

What can’t you help but get mad at, Dear Reader?