So that's what they call it

I have found out what bugs me so much about people eating. It’s called misophonia.

For people with a condition that some scientists call misophonia, mealtime can be torture. The sounds of other people eating — chewing, chomping, slurping, gurgling — can send them into an instantaneous, blood-boiling rage.

Or as Adah Siganoff put it, “rage, panic, fear, terror and anger, all mixed together.”

“The reaction is irrational,” said Ms. Siganoff, 52, of Alpine, Calif. “It is typical fight or flight” — so pronounced that she no longer eats with her husband.

Many people can be driven to distraction by certain small sounds that do not seem to bother others — gum chewing, footsteps, humming. But sufferers of misophonia, a newly recognized condition that remains little studied and poorly understood, take the problem to a higher level.

Someone eating, swallowing and chewing near me drives me bonkers. I can hear every detail of the awful mastication going in their mouth. It drives me to the point of excessive rudeness.

Misophonia (“dislike of sound”) is sometimes confused with hyperacusis, in which sound is perceived as abnormally loud or physically painful. But Dr. Johnson says they are not the same. “These people like sound, the louder the better,” she said of misophonia patients. “The sounds they object to are soft, hardly audible sounds.” One patient is driven crazy by her beloved dog licking its paws. Another can’t bear the pop of the plosive “p” in ordinary conversation.


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  • Spanishbride

    What will they think of next?

    Imagine if I made up a name for every single thing that annoys me.

    1)Apologyphonia : people who will not say sorry or acknowledge wrongdoing in any way shape or form
    2) Pridegoethb4thafallonia: people who are upset that others no longer want anything to do with them but because of their Apologyphonia cannot fix the problem

  • rouppe

    Drives me nuts too. There’s a guy at work who likes to come talk to me while eating an apple – and he’s one of those mouth-open eaters…

    • Cadwallader

      It is worse down a telephone line.

  • chris

    I can handle crunchy sounds like apples. It’s the sound of people eating cheese and chocolate bars that sendsme potty. Exactly as described, irrational anger, have to really stop myself from yelling at the cheese eater.

  • Bill Ralston

    Well,. that’s a great way to kill off any lunch invites!

  • Cactus Kate

    As a sufferer of this affliction I find that the cure indeed can only be to dine with such large background noise that the eating is the least of the problem.

    Have to say people who scrape and clunk dishes is right up there. Hence moving outside to drink by 3pm in most restaurants is a pre-requisite.

    Nothing funnier really than that time we were at yum cha WO and the Chinese got the bowls of noodles out slurping away. It was a good contest to see who was least tolerant.

  • John Q Public

    The Chinese are the worst at this! All that hideous slurping.

  • Orange7

    Ironically searching the internet on this very subject I come across this blog I read daily, albeit an old thread. I H-A-T-E the sound of people chewing gum. Particularly when say, you are in an open plan office and there is a “daily chewer”. I sat beside this one guy in an open plan office who was a daily chewer and after months of sitting frustrated for 8 hours a day I finally bought it up and he looked at me like I was a crazy person. He stopped for all of two days. I applaud Singapore for being a country in which the darned stuff is illegal!