Misophonia: How Sound Rage Destroys Relationships and Forces People To Move Home

Woman blocking ears with fingers Photograph: Jamie Grill/Getty Images/Tetra Images RF

Sent into apoplexy by whistling noses? Can’t bear the sound of people eating? You could be one of the many people affected by this potentially debilitating condition. As a teenager, I remember being moved almost to tears by the sound of a family member chewing muesli. A friend eating dumplings once forced me to flee the room.

The noises one former housemate makes when chomping popcorn mean I have declined their invitations to the cinema for nearly 20 years. I am not proud of myself for reacting like this – in fact, I am pretty embarrassed – but my responses feel unavoidable. It is probable that I have misophonia. According to a scientific paper published last year, so do 18% of people in the UK.

Otherwise known as “sound rage”, misophonia is “a decreased tolerance to certain sounds” says Jane Gregory, a clinical psychologist at the University of Oxford who co-authored the paper and counts herself among the 18%. Sound triggers are usually repetitive, she says. It is not about “the volume of the sound or necessarily the acoustic pattern”, but what it means to the observer.

Eating sounds are most commonly reported, closely followed by so-called throat sounds. (Gregory is driven spare by the sound of pigeons.) “Chewing, crunching, snorting, sniffing, throat clearing, nose whistling, heavy breathing,” rattles off Dr Zach Rosenthal, who runs the Centre for Misophonia and Emotion Regulation at Duke university in Durham, North Carolina. “These are all relatively ordinary everyday things that people need to do, but in people with misophonia they are experienced as highly aversive.”

That “aversive reaction” can take the form of physical changes such as increased muscle tension or heart rate, or emotional responses such as irritability, shame and anxiety. It brings on a fight, flight or even a freeze response where, according to Gregory, “you get a really strong adrenaline reaction and it tells you that you’re either in danger or you’re being violated”.

Only about 14% of the UK population are aware of misophonia, according to Gregory’s paper, a collaboration with King’s College London. Perhaps one of the reasons, she suggests, is simply that it is hard to talk about. “You are essentially telling someone: ‘The sound of you eating and breathing – the sounds of you keeping yourself alive – are repulsing me.’ It’s really hard to find a polite way to say that.”

Maybe the movie Tár will help: its protagonist, played by Cate Blanchett, has an extreme reaction to the sound of a metronome. Theories about how misophonia develops are exactly that. “A lot of people say they had always been a little bit sensitive to sound, but then they remember a certain time when it suddenly got a lot worse,” says Gregory. Rosenthal says it typically presents itself in late childhood or early teens and is often associated with family members.

“People ask me all the time: ‘Why my family? Why my parents?’” The explanation feels comfortingly logical: “You’re not blaming, you’re not judging – you were probably just around them the most.” You might have clocked a sibling eating baked beans, say, then once you have noticed it your brain begins to look out for it.

Rosenthal describes the whirlpool: “It starts to be aversive and then I pay more attention to it, and then the more attention I pay to it the more I notice it, and then the more I notice it the more aversive it becomes …”

The impact can be severe. Gregory knows of relationships that have ended over misophonia; she has encountered people who have moved several times to escape triggering neighbours. Others must pick careers based on where they can work without being bothered by sounds. “If you don’t get any respite from it, you can get desperate,” she says.

You get a really strong adrenaline reaction and it tells you that you’re either in danger or you’re being violated…Jane Gregory

Strategies might help, however, such as introducing background noise when eating. Gregory’s husband, who knows better than to eat Monster Munch at home, can tell if she is bothered by a sound, because she will suddenly call out: “Siri, play Taylor Swift!”

Sometimes the best option is to walk away. Gregory suggests then “slowing down your breathing, or just giving your mind a little job to do”, such as playing a game for a minute. By the time you re-enter the room, the sound might be gone, or you might feel better equipped, “because you know what’s coming”.

She also recommends “opposite action – this idea that sometimes the more we avoid something or block it out, the more harmful it feels to us. In CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy], we do the opposite of what you feel like doing.” In this vein, she tries to fight her instinct to glare at her husband, gazing adoringly at him instead: “It’s a way of tripping up your brain and saying: remember that you love this person, remember that you’re not actually in danger.”

I make a note to try this the next time I hear someone eating scrambled eggs.


Source: Misophonia: how ‘sound rage’ destroys relationships and forces people to move home | Life and style | The Guardian


Related contents:

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COVID-19 Vaccines Don’t Contain Magnetic Ingredients; Dose Volume is Too Small To Contain Any Device Able To Hold a Magnet Through The Skin


Around mid-May 2021, multiple videos (examples here, here, and here) claimed that COVID-19 vaccines caused magnetic reactions in vaccinated people. The videos purportedly showed that magnets attached to the arm where people received a COVID-19 vaccine, but not to the unvaccinated arm. The so-called “magnet challenge” went viral across social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, receiving hundreds of thousands of interactions.
While some posts didn’t try to explain the phenomenon, others claimed that COVID-19 vaccines contained metals or microchips that attracted the magnets. None of the videos provided verification that the people appearing in them were actually vaccinated against COVID-19. Regardless of whether they received the COVID-19 vaccine or not, the claim that COVID-19 vaccines “magnetize” people is inaccurate and unsupported by scientific evidence, as we explain below.

None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain magnetic ingredients

All materials react to magnetic fields in some way. However, these magnetic forces are, in general, so weak that most of these materials are effectively non-magnetic. Only a few metals, including iron, cobalt, nickel, and some steels, are considered truly magnetic and are attracted to magnets.

Lists of the ingredients in all the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are publicly available. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna contain mRNA, lipids, salts, sugar, and substances that keep the pH stable. The COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson contains an adenovirus expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, amino acids, antioxidants, ethanol, an emulsifier, sugar, and salts. None of these ingredients are metals, and therefore, none of them are magnetic.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine contains similar ingredients to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but includes magnesium chloride as a preservative. Although magnesium is a metal, it is also non-magnetic, both in its elemental form and as magnesium chloride salt. In fact, higher amounts of magnesium are naturally present in the body, in many foods, and in dietary supplements, and they don’t cause magnetic reactions in people.

Finally, the volume of a COVID-19 vaccine dose is very small, ranging from 0.3 ml in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 0.5 ml in the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. According to experts, even if the vaccines contained a magnetic ingredient, the total amount would be insufficient to hold a magnet through a person’s skin. Michael Coey, a physics professor at Trinity College Dublin, explained to Reuters:

“You would need about one gram of iron metal to attract and support a permanent magnet at the injection site, something you would ‘easily feel’ if it was there […] By the way, my wife was injected with her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine today, and I had mine over two weeks ago. I have checked that magnets are not attracted to our arms!”

This Instagram video illustrates how a magnet (or any other small object) can stick to people’s skin without the need for any magnetic force.

Claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips are unfounded

The claim that COVID-19 vaccines are magnetic because they contain microchips or tracking devices traces its roots to a conspiracy theory that has persisted throughout the pandemic. Despite being debunked many times, the baseless theory that COVID-19 vaccines include secret devices for tracking the population emerges from time to time in different forms.

Such claims led the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to explain on its website that COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain microchips or tracking devices:

“No, the government is not using the vaccine to track you. There may be trackers on the vaccine shipment boxes to protect them from theft, but there are no trackers in the vaccines themselves. State governments track where you got the vaccine and which kind you received using a computerized database to make sure you get all recommended doses at the right time. You will also get a card showing that you have received a COVID-19 vaccine.”

The claims that the COVID-19 vaccines contain magnetic microchips are incorrect for multiple reasons. First, any microchip contained in a COVID-19 vaccine would need to be small enough to fit through the syringe needle. Vaccination generally uses 22 to 25-gauge needles. “Gauge” indicates the size of the hole that runs down the middle of the needle.

The higher the gauge, the smaller the hole. These needles have a maximum inner diameter of 0.5 mm. Current microchips aren’t small enough to fit through the syringe needle. Second, even if a microchip of that size exists, it would be too small to hold a magnet through the skin, for the same reasons explained by Coey above.

Finally, all COVID-19 vaccines are supplied in multidose vials containing five to 15 doses, depending on the manufacturer (see dosing information from Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson). This would make it impossible to guarantee that all individuals receive a chip. Some people could receive several chips, while others receive none. Furthermore, many of the devices would likely remain in the vial or get stuck in the syringe.


Claims that COVID-19 vaccines cause magnetic reactions are unsubstantiated and implausible. COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA don’t contain metals or other magnetic ingredients that could cause a magnetic reaction in vaccinated individuals. Furthermore, no component or microchip that fits in the volume of a COVID-19 vaccine dose would be strong enough to hold a magnet through the skin.


Source: COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain magnetic ingredients; dose volume is too small to contain any device able to hold a magnet through the skin – Health Feedback


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