Selective Sound Sensitivity: The Rap on Misophonia

March 27, 2015 2:32 PM

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Knuckle-cracking, jaw-clicking, gulping, sniffing, whispering, and for some people, even the sound of someone else's breathing, can fall hard on sensitive ears. One friend told me that strong Ps, aka plosives while speaking, annoy his wife. (The dentalization of "T" drives me up a tree.) My hearing can be so keen that on a city street, I can detect whether a person walking past me in high heels needs new tips.

This hypersensitivity to sounds is called misophonia. According to a study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, misophonia is a condition in which "a person experiences autonomic arousal (analogous to an involuntary 'fight-or-flight' response) to certain innocuous or repetitive sounds such as chewing, ...

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