We have often come across certain sounds that drive our ears bonkers. For instance, the painfully amplified sound of chalk on a blackboard is extremely irritating and most people will agree. In certain cases, people also experience this feeling which is triggered by common sounds.
This phenomenon is known as Misophonia. It is a strong reaction to specific sounds. Although it is not an officially recognised condition, certain experts consider this as a form of conditioned behaviour.
This condition may often trigger a reaction to specific sounds like nail scraping on a chalkboard, dripping water, chewing, snapping gum, or repetitive noises, such as pencil tapping.
Now a new survey from the UK reveals that more people suffer from it than previously thought.
“Our survey captured the complexity of the condition. Misophonia is more than just being annoyed by certain sounds, it’s about feeling trapped or helpless when you can’t get away from these sounds and missing out on things because of this,” explains University of Oxford clinical psychologist Jane Gregory, who co-authored the new study.
King’s College London psychometrician Silia Vitoratou, along with Gregory and colleagues, used an algorithm to distribute volunteers across sex (including non-binary), age, and ethnicity in a way that reflected UK census data to get a representative sample of people above 18 years old.
The team found that the prevalence of Misophonia in the UK is 18.4 percent. However, they also pointed out that these findings are only representative of the UK and may differ in other parts of the world.
According to the scientists, the new survey may be a useful tool to help other clinicians identify those troubled by the condition.
Our results show that misophonia is a relatively common condition, and further research is needed to determine at what point this condition becomes ‘disordered’ in terms of distress, impact, and need for treatment,” the researchers conclude.
The findings of the survey were published in PLOS ONE journal.