One of life’s great annoyances is being in the presence of a loud chewer. Someone just sitting there, the sound of their mastication steadily growing in your mind until it becomes almost earsplitting.
If you feel that way about pretty much everyone’s chewing noises, to the point of having emotional reactions to them, you may have a condition is called “misophonia.”
One 18-year-old girl, Ellie Rapp of Pittsburgh, has been aware of having misophonia since middle school. But she’d been dealing with the condition since she was a toddler. When Ellie hears her family chewing their food at dinner, her “heart starts to pound.”
“I go one of two ways. I either start to cry or I just get really intensely angry. It’s really intense. I mean, it’s as if you’re going to die,” she told NPR.
Ellie’s mom, Kathy, spent years trying to figure out how to handle Ellie’s reaction to sounds. She found an article online about misophonia.
“And I read it and I said, ‘This is what I have. This is it,’” Ellie said.
Misophonia is not just a reaction to chewing. It also happens in response to other ordinary sounds that other people make, like clearing their throat or clicking their pen. Mouth stuff is a very common trigger.
Misophonia is basically the extreme version of what many people experience – an aversion to other people’s random noises. But it can be difficult to cope with, and there’s still a lot of work to be done in recognizing and treating the condition. It’s not listed in the DSM-5, and many doctors have never heard of it.
“It sounds bizarre, but it’s very real,” Kathy said.
And it honestly sounds terrible.