Misophonia is a disorder that causes the sufferer to have an extreme hate of certain sounds. The particularly despised sounds vary with patients, but the common component is that hearing the sounds invokes feelings of anxiety, despair and rage. Common sounds about which misophonia sufferers complain are chewing, scratching, sniffling and tapping, among others.
Misophonia is thought to be a neurological condition where the auditory system in the brain processes sounds incorrectly. The auditory system processes normally harmless sounds as signs of danger and therefore invokes a "fight or flight" response in the sufferer, where the person gets an urge to escape the source of the sound that is nearly impossible to fight. In addition, the auditory system processes the offending sound as louder than it actually is, making it more noticeable to the sufferer. It is as if the ear drum is the radio and the auditory system is the volume control dial, with the volume stuck on the highest setting.
Why only certain sounds invoke a misophonia response is not completely understood. One theory is that the sufferer has noise sensitivities to certain tones only. Sounds that are at the same tone to which the person is sensitive, invoke a misophonia response. This theory is based on the fact that some misohphonia sufferers also have hyperacusis, which is a disorder where the auditory system amplifies sounds picked up by the ears.
The most commonly accepted treatment for misohponia is tinnitus retraining therapy. Dr. Jastreboff developed the tinnitus retraining therapy protocol to treat misophonia, utilizing in-the-ear broadband noise generators to retrain the auditory system to become less sensitive to sounds.