Thoughts on the 20/20 segment on misophonia

A few weeks have passed since the misophonia segment aired on 20/20, and I have been reflecting on the episode. Overall, I thought it was thorough and accurate, but I always think there could be room for improvement when it comes to media coverage of this condition. Because we don’t get much coverage, it’s crucial for the pieces done on misophonia to be particularly informative and fair. If you missed the episode, here’s the link to view it.

THE GOOD:

* Massive audience: 20/20 reaches a huge audience, and one that’s different than those who read the New York Times or who watch morning talk shows.

* No-trigger version: How thoughtful was it that the producers made a version that eliminated all of that torturous background sounds of people chewing? I watched the “trigger” version live with my partner, and I had to yell out from time to time because there were so man horrible sounds. Now I can go back and watch it again online with less trouble.

* Johnson interview: They interviewed audiologist Marsha Johnson and pieced out some good quotes from her about the condition. Johnson is doing a great service to us by articulating the facts about misophonia in a respectful and honest way.

WHAT COULD IMPROVE:

*Visual triggers: The segment makes no mention of visual triggers that exist with misophonia. Yes, we seem to all have certain sounds as triggers, but many of us are just as bothered by repetitive visuals, such as foot tapping, nail biting, or watching someone eat. (At least those are my experiences with visual triggers, anyway.)

* Generalizations about violence: The 20/20 segment opened with, in my opinion, an extreme case of misophonia. The father of this teenage girl with misophonia played a recording of her blood curdling screams following a trigger. The mother of this girl said she feared for her life and had been physically abused by her daughter. Then, a voice comes on to preview an upcoming part of the show by saying viewers should expect to see “the violence of a trigger caught on tape.”

Yes, misophonia does trigger a “fight or flight” response, and fighting is violence. Yes, this teenage girl used as an example has misophonia and has been violent. I just wish 20/20 could have pointed out that not every person with misophonia is violent. Many of us choose the “flight” route, and many of us might have angry thoughts but are still able to refrain from acting upon them. I would hate for the general public to get the impression that all people with this condition should be considered a danger to themselves and others.

What were your thoughts on the 20/20 segment? Is my critique fair?

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13 responses

  1. hanoverite@hotmail.com | Reply

    Oh my gosh – I am so sorry for what you all are dealing with. I know how it is. I have a terrible time with slamming doors. I welcome thunderstorms – anything associated with nature – but slamming doors enrage me. I don’t do anything beyond that but it ruins any sleep I have gotten. I just cannot tolerate slamming doors of any kind and am very sure it goes back to anger-related incidents from my childhood that I was surrounded by. I have read about a new technique called PRT but the only doctor is in Wyoming. It centers on pulse diagnosis and accupressure. He states that you must start by using “competing sounds”. I have not had this clarified yet. I keep moving from place to place to place. Thankfully a few years ago I found one where I could sleep and not get slammed awake. Here, where I have been for almost two years – it is horrid. I feel as if I cannot have a real life with such tiredness from all of it. I have even tried a noise sensitivity CD which takes the edge off and I even fall asleep to it. I can sleep through the TV, music, the loudest thunderstorms etc. because my brain associates them with happy memories or thoughts. But, again, slamming is ruining my life. Does anyone else experience this?

  2. How do you guys and gals go about describing this condition to your partner? Like Alex, I too feel guilty and like a complete jerk for asking my boyfriend to stop chewing his food so loudly or smacking his lips when he’s eating (but seriously, come on, the lip smacking can be helped dang it). Or for giving him dirty looks and gritting my teeth because I’m so incredibly and beyond belief upset over the eating.

    1. Hi Kate. For me, I try my best to emphasize that my partner did nothing wrong and that it’s my misophonia that’s to blame. Sometimes I just get up and say, “my misophonia’s being triggered, I’ll be back in a little bit,” and I go to another room where I can calm down and wait for my partner to finish eating.

  3. Me too Rebecca. All these years I just thought I was a moody, irritable, butt!!!! Seriously. The person(s) who trigger me the most is my oldest sister and the way she eats and my husband and the way he eats popcorn and chips and sucks his teeth. I literally want to smack him, I honestly thought I was crazy…seriously. I avoid riding in the same vehicle with my husband at all costs because of the sounds he makes make me want to just yell and scream at him. So, I just turn up the radio really loud to mask out the sound. My kids “know better” than to slurp or smack around me and would rather cut off their own toe than chew ice around me!!!!!! My youngest daughter does this thing with her shirt that has recently become a major problem for me, it drives me crazy and now that I have heard of this I know that at least there are others!!!!! I have learned to live with it and have found that more times than not, I remove myself from the situation. I have been accused so many times of being moody and difficult to get along with because of these things, but they literally make me insane when I hear them. Unless you suffer from this, it is hard to articulate. But knowing that it is a condition at least gives me a little resolve. I honestly have NEVER had RAGE associated with it, I have had some pretty intense anger that I was able to keep under major control. I wonder if over time this becomes harder to control and will eventually lead to rage if not treated properly??? Or if we are good at controlling it now, will we always be???

  4. I am a sufferer as well, mine are also triggered by watching people eat/chew along with the noises. Some voices drive me bonkers. I have to leave a room if someone is eating loudly (chips, gulping, smacking, breathing heavy) then when I remove myself, I put on loud music or the TV however the sound seems to continue in my ears for a long time. I become enraged but do not act out in a violent way – I would like to but I don’t.

  5. I have suffered from this for more than 30 years, since I was about 12. Had never heard of Misophonia until I heard Kelly Ripa speak of it. I’m going to do more research. The little I have read I don’t think mine is extreme but it sure has effected my life. I’ve often wondered if hypnosis will help. I try and take myself out of torcherous situations but don’t live in seclusion. Would love to find more resources and ways to tolerate.

  6. Oh no, I completely agree. This segment was refreshing in many ways. We’re not all violent though. I am typically a flight person although as kid, with little self control, I was more inclined to fight and so I did. Right now, there’s a fly in my room who’s asking for it. I may have to resort to the fight method. I’m just waiting for buzzing imp to just land on hard…flat…surface.

  7. I suffer from this disease and have considered suicide.I am also depressed and have thyroid problems,needless to say my life is pure misery.The church I go to is small and people tend to pop gum,I get so angry that I fear someday I will just jump up and tear into every one of them.Of course church of all places is not a place to pop gum at all,but we have some people who don’t seem to care that it is rude crude and socially unacceptable.Also my neighbor has a barking dog,Now I am an animal lover but I literally hate this dog and believe one day I will kill it.I know that I would if given half a chance,my family does not understand,and this causes me to be even angrier than ever.God I need help for this disorder.Please if anyone out there knows any way to get help please get on here and help me you may save a life
    I am desperate.

  8. thank god I’m not the only one. I’ve tried to express my misophonia to all people around me, and yet most think its a FAKE condition

  9. I too have misophonia and just watched the episode. I think it was appropriate that they showed extreme cases and it honestly made me blessed that my case isn’t quite as extreme. However, I wish they spent more time exploring the loneliness, anxiety and depression that comes with this disorder. I become enraged, but never violent, and I would assume that the majority of the misophoniacs are that way too but as a journalist I understand why they focused on the extreme cases: it illustrates the issue in a more sensational way.

    For me, the condition makes me feel misunderstood and guilty for constantly asking people to stop chewing so loud or to please blow their noses. I’m just happy this is finally getting some coverage and I’m glad that there are others out there that do understand me.

    Now following! Thank you for the blog!

    P.S. What has worked for you?

    1. Hi Alex, I’m sorry for such a delayed reply to your comment. Thanks for reading — and good points about the show. What has worked for me? Well, not much. I’m trying to get therapy, but so far nothing is really working. My best line of defense is anticipating trigger sounds before they happen and having an escape plan. At work, that means putting in my ear plugs at the very first sound that bothers me. I just tell people that wearing ear plugs helps me concentrate. With close friends and family, I am more open about my condition because I trust them. What has worked for me in those relationships is to just be up front and let them know that a sound is bothering me, and then I can either leave or they can try to stop producing the sound. Have you found strategies that have worked for you?

      1. I have spent hundreds of dollars on professional hypnotherapy and found that it helped a lot at first but my attention would return to the sounds a few months later. I also found a hypnosis mp3 online, which I purchased and should definitely be listening to more often because I think the reason I didn’t have as much success with hypnosis is that I wasn’t consistent with it. Here is the link: http://www.hypnosisdownloads.com/clinical-hypnotherapy/noise-sensitivity. It’s worth trying.

        Also, I bought a white noise machine for my room to turn on when I’m writing or reading and I sleep with a fan since my misophonia makes me a light sleeper. I’ve tried EMDR therapy to help with the negative emotions and anxieties surrounding this condition and I’ve noticed that since beginning my yoga and meditation practice it’s easier to cope with my triggers.

        I’ve basically tried everything and anything that I think might help. I refuse to become a victim of this. I want to overcome it or at least learn to manage it. I’ve let it affect my life and my relationships for too long. I think the best thing misophoniacs can do is to keep trying to find a solution that works for them. Practice stress management, wear headphones, get yourself out of situations you know will set you off and make the most of the life you’ve been given. It could be worse. At least we CAN hear (though I’ll admit there were times I wish I couldn’t).

        Best of luck to anyone battling this condition. Don’t give up!

    2. Hypnotherapy? That hadn’t even crossed my mind. I will try that! I will give anything a try at this point. Thank you. And thank you for sharing your positive attitude with me. You’re right, it could always be worse. We should stop and count our blessings.

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