from The Large and Growly Bear, by Gertrude Crampton
Well, as anyone who's ever had nasal congestion knows, an often accompanying feature is nasal whistling -- that @#%ing lovely high-pitched squeak that goes with every inhalation or exhalation, or both. I realised early on that this was going to irritate the @#%ing ... Sylvanians... out of me because I can't stand occasional nasal whistling even under regular circumstances, and now I was going to have to deal with it every day for at least nine months (as well as that other lesser-known joy of pregnancy -- ear congestion -- you know, where your ears suddenly block up and the only thing you can hear is yourself amplified to unbelievably annoying proportions).
Well, whenever that stupid whistling sound would start, I'd immediately grab some tissue and launch into this major nasal picking (sorry, I know, TMI). Sometimes the whistling would persist despite all the prodding, and that would aggravate me further, as if I felt my nose was somehow defying me. And so, weirdo that you know I am, I Googled "Is it normal to hate the sound of your own nose whistling?".
As it turned out, a large number of people did find their whistling noses extremely irritating, so I didn't feel too crazy, but in the process of this profound academic research, I stumbled upon something called misophonia -- literally "sensitivity to noise". According to Wiki, misophonia is a form of "decreased sound tolerance, believed to be a neurological disorder characterized by negative experiences resulting only from specific sounds, whether loud or soft.
"People who have misophonia are most commonly annoyed, or even enraged, by such ordinary sounds as other people clipping their nails, brushing teeth, eating, breathing, sniffing, talking, sneezing, yawning, walking, chewing gum, laughing, snoring, whistling or coughing; certain consonants; or repetitive sounds. Some are also affected by visual stimuli, such as repetitive foot or body movements, fidgeting or any movement they might observe out of the corner of their eyes".
Fascinated, I next found this New York Times article entitled, When a Chomp or a Slurp Is a Trigger for Outrage. "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...
"They also follow a strikingly consistent pattern, experts say. The condition almost always begins in late childhood or early adolescence and worsens over time, often expanding to include more trigger sounds, usually those of eating and breathing...
"Taylor Benson, a 19-year-old sophomore at Creighton University in Omaha, says many mouth noises, along with sniffling and gum chewing, make her chest tighten and her heart pound. She finds herself clenching her fists and glaring at the person making the sound...The sounds [misophonia patients] 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" (read the article in its entirety here).
Wow, who knew? I actually find the sound of people talking loudly in public spaces like trains, restaurants or cinemas exceedingly annoying, but I think that stems from an intolerance of another human condition -- plain inconsideration. I'm always reminded of this scene in a book of my grandmother's by Ruby M Ayres (yep, I read her avidly as a teenager). I no longer remember the title, but this scene just stuck in my head -- there's a couple trying to have a quiet conversation in a restaurant and two women at a nearby table are loudly gossiping away.
One woman goes, "What happened next?", and the man sarcastically says to his companion, "Yes, please! Tell us what happened next!". When she tells him to hush, because the women might hear him and be offended, he replies that they shouldn't be -- since they're talking that loudly, they must want other people to overhear them and even to get involved. To this day, that scene would replay in my mind whenever I hear people talking loudly without any consideration for where they are or whom they might be disturbing. I might almost say I have misophoniacal feelings toward them lol!
What noises drive you crazy?