Derrol Murphy, 41, suffers from misophonia. Misophonia is a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable given the circumstance. Those who have misophonia might describe it as when a sound “drives you crazy.” Their reactions can range from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to flee.

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“People don’t understand it and I can’t explain it. It’s affected relationships, especially people I’ve been dating and family members because you take it out on the people closest to you because you think they should understand.”

Murphy says the condition, which he has lived with for as long as he can remember, has left him unable to see relatives due to mundane occurrences, like throat clearing.

“It’s definitely made dating interesting, and I haven’t been able to speak to relatives for years as the throat-clearing would make situations tense,” he said.

Misophonia has been scarcely researched and is not yet formally recognized as a psychiatric or neurological condition. But some psychologists who have seen the intense distress it causes in their patients are convinced it should be taken seriously.

A brain that’s slightly different

The underlying mechanism of misophonia is not fully known, but scientists suspect it’s caused by the way some people’s brains process particular sounds and react to them.

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For some people, it’s seriously debilitating. There have been reports of people leaving jobs because of panic attacks in open-plan offices, or people having to wear earplugs and constantly move carriages on public transport or even permanently eat in separate rooms because of the noise of their partner chewing is simply too much. 

As of now, there is no treatment for Misophonia. People just learn to manage it the best they can.