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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I got misophonia

noisy_eaters.jpg
I recently wrote a post on my personal blog about the movie, "Eat Pray Love." I wrote that the movie triggered my most inconvenient phobia — absolute disgust and intense anger when I hear eating sounds.

I linked to the post here on Omnivore and several people commented that they had the same phobia. This surprised me, since I've only met one other such person in my life, although I did know that Virginia Woolf suffered the condition.

A reader has since commented on my Sacred Disorder blog that she has the same condition and that it has a name, misophonia. It shocks me that, having spent most of my life in therapy of some sort, nobody has ever put a name on the condition.

After Googling it, I read that it is indeed a recognized phobia and an incurable one. Its cause is unknown. Some think it's neurological in origin. Others think it is initially triggered by an experience with a parent. I know that my father drove me nuts with his eating sounds and I have a very clear memory of going crazy at the table with him when I was about 14. I was banished to my room to eat alone...and I was delighted with the punishment. Still, I don't think he actually caused the problem.

What most surprised me in reading the symptoms of the disorder is the fact that most people immediately feel angry when triggered. That's my own experience, I'm sorry to say. It's also true, according to the research, that the more familiar the noisy eater is, the angrier you get. Sorry to say that's also true. Poor Wayne. With regular friends, I rarely feel triggered.

I've learned to live with the phobia without wearing the earplugs many do. I'm glad to finally have a label for it.

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