Misophonia Treatment and Anxiety
Many people get enraged when other people chew loudly. This is called Misophonia. And it is not just chewing that sets them off. It also applies to drinking, slurping noisily. Some people get angry when someone else makes a noise with objects, like clicking a pen. Or drumming their fingers, or even flicking from channel to channel on TV. Even just fidgeting in general will get some people aroused.
It is quite distressing. The sufferer gets aggressive for no real reason. You know your response is out of proportion to the offence, but you just can't stop. And then you feel stupid and embarrassed after. You feel awful, but you just can't let it go. Some people find that as time goes by more and more sounds set them off. Some people carry earplugs with them all the time, in case something unexpected sets them off.
Many people avoid it by choosing to eat alone. But of course that doesn't help if you must eat at a family table. The standard treatment is usually CBT. This often helps. CBT can help you understand the agitation you feel. It lets you realize that when a noise is bothering you don't have to project your feelings about it. It allows you to concentrate on challenging thoughts about the thing that is annoying you. But it doesn't do anything to prevent it.
I think the key to this behavior lies in the fact that he has a sudden onset, and an unreasonable aggressive response. 23andMe, the genetic testing company, suggests that there is a genetic component to it. The most common psychological issue that is both genetic and expresses as sudden irritation, is black and white thinking.
The real reason
Black and white thinking is an aspect of dysthymia, a common form of mild depression. Dysthymia is very prevalent in the general population. Various authorities suggest somewhere between one and eight and one in 12 people have dysthymia. The majority of dysthymia cases have never been diagnosed. They are just dismissed as unreasonable people. Dysthymia produces grumpiness, anger, irritation, isolation and circular thinking. These symptoms are so wide-ranging and confusing the dysthymia is often overlooked.
But black and white thinking is probably the most serious of the symptoms. Black and white thinking arises from expectations. You expect something to happen a certain way, and if it doesn't then you get irritated, possibly angry. When you feel that way you want to punish the person or thing causing your irritation.
I think that Misophonia is very misunderstood. In my opinion, it is basically an anxiety issue. People with Misophonia frequently have OCD as well or some other anxiety disorder. The answer is to treat the anxiety disorder and prevent getting irritated in the first place.
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