Selectivenes of Misophonia

Denise asked me: “Can Misophonia be selective?” My answer is “Yes. Misophonia can be selective.”

As everything written here, this is just about my experience and my Misophonia. Some people are probably affected by numerous sounds produced by numerous/all people, but my Miso is extremely selective. I’m trying, for years, to comprehend criteria that my Miso takes in consideration when chooses  who will be doomed and who will be left alone.

My biggest triggers are sounds and movements made by the people I love the most. Here I’m talking about my family and here I’ll exclude my children because their sounds/movements started recently to get me. I don’t know how will this develop but I know I’m scared.

It’s like the simplest equation there is “I love the most= I hate their sounds/movements the most”. Those people are certainly the last I want to be triggered by and I think that fact is the biggest curse of Misophonia.

However, there are some people in my life that I deeply care about and that I don’t mind at all!

Over the years I was trying to find what is it that some people have and therefore my Miso forgive them when they make noises I would usually mind. I have a couple of girlfriends who can do whatever they want to do and I wont mind. I wont mind at all! They can eat a whole day without stopping and I wouldn’t mind. Two of them f.e. are completely different in every aspect of the life but the characteristic they have in common is that they both are kind of shy. But shy in a most beautiful, appealing way. Just like a child’s shyness  in all its honesty.

Actually, I’ve just realize that Leonore is like them. Leonore introduced me to Misophonia for those of you who didn’t read my first posts. Leonore, if you’re reading this just know that you can chew freely all the carrots and apples in my presence :)

That shyness I mentioned is one of the human characteristics I admire and love the most. It’s so rare nowadays to discover something so honest, uncontrolled and pure in a person. Maybe because I found that characteristic so fascinating and for that reason it has somehow more power then Miso has in my brain? I don’t know… I’m just trying to understand here. If you know the answer, tell me/us please!

People I don’t care about and new people I meet, influence me differently.

Yesterday, when I was on a project presentation, 7 experts were talking something during one hour time. 4 of them didn’t trigger me at all. I was perfectly fine listening to them speaking, and seeing their gesticulation. One guy had pronounced gesticulation when showing some charts and a particular grimace when accentuating something but I didn’t care. I was just feeling normal.

Just to be clear here, even though I’m not triggered by some people , that doesn’t mean that I’m not registering their sounds or movements. I register them all, but I just don’t react on them.

People I judge from the first site as being full of themselves will certainly bother me with their sounds/movements.

The second person talking at the presentation demanded all my inner strength to activate itself and try to listen to him. He was so full of himself. He liked the sound of his voice, his posture and movements were so confident and annoying. He made numerous grimaces and tone changes while speaking. I wont be very happy if I have to work with him in the future.

And, also, there she was. A person that I wanted to like.

A beautiful black woman started to speak and I was stunned by her beauty. The tone of her voice was strong and pleasant for listening. It was completely opposite of her body type and height, but completely suitable for the “Flood management” presentation she made. I wanted to photograph her. The light that wasn’t flattering to the speakers before but it looked great on her skin and face features. She spoke with the short and clear sentences colored by the London accent.  While she was speaking I didn’t hear a word she sad! I was enjoying. I was just observing her (photography related) and enjoying her tone of voice. Until she woke me up. She shocked me with the “tscok” sound she made, she smacked with her tongue and lips so loudly that I fringed every time when I heard/saw that. She also licked her lips often. I did mind that too.

I soo wanted to not be triggered by her but my brain and my feelings were not agreeing on this one.

I guess there is/was something about her I do mind subconsciously  but I can’t figure out what is that!

I’m analyzing every person I come across asking myself numerous question about them, myself in relation to them and everything else. Over the years I became an analyzing human machine. I analyze everything. Sometimes that’s good, other times it’s not, but I know that it helped me a lot. Now I’m just automatically doing that.

Why my brain is being selective? Why it chooses not to react on some people? Based on what it makes that decision?

If you noticed something related to when your Miso reacts and when not please post a comment so we can help each other as much as we can.

Author Description

I love photography and learning about it. I'll try and fail that's for sure, but sometimes, I hope, I'll do good. As for the Misophonia part of the blog, I'll write honestly about my experiences and feelings, trying to help myself and others who feel the same way as I do and maybe to raise some awareness about this condition. All written here is just and only my opinion.

14 Responses to “Selectivenes of Misophonia”

  1. Sheila March 19, 2014 - Reply

    To begin with, I’d like to say that the descriptions of selectivity of your Miso experiences match mine nearly entirely.
    I, too, try to analyze this selectivity till the very end in order to try and discover some psychological background involved in it.
    You connect it with the favorableness of a personality trait – shyness as opposed to ‘fullness of oneself’. Have you noticed along the years any other such characteristics?
    To me it seems that there is a certain – perhaps subconscious – judgement taking place in the moment of “choice” of triggers. For example, we tend to judge the people closest to us more than those we don’t feel close to. Why? We encounter them more often; We care about them more and so we open ourselves up more to them, turn ourselves more vulnerable and expect a similar level of closeness from them; They take part in our closest spheres – perhaps we desire these spheres to be as perfect for us as possible, being then not only unhappy by, but also strongly intolerant towards things that are not favorable to us. I wonder..
    What do you think?

    • mmaria March 19, 2014 - Reply

      I’ve never met anyone who understand what I was describing here! Just can’t believe you think the same! Thank you for letting me know!
      Yes, I did notice some other characteristics that seem to completely or partially cure my Miso. The amount of appreciation I have for a certain person’s characteristic does influence my Miso reactions on the sounds/movements those people produce. I don’t necessary have to like a certain person but if I respect her/him there are more hope for me that I wont be bothered by their sounds.
      The people I think are “Nice,simple and Ok” and have some nice and honest energy are the ones that don’t bother me. I admire them how they manage to stay so simple and nice in this world and they represent to me something that can’t be taught or bought. Their simplicity is incomprehensible too me. They’re everything I’m not. Probably that dosage of my fascination with those particular characteristics is enough for stopping mu Miso reaction.
      For the people I deeply care about it’s a bit trickier to explain how I see this. I agree with your description, I judge them more because I want more for and from them. My feelings towards them, good or bad are so much more pronounced and therefore my Miso is more pronounced. And on the top of that, because I know a lot about them and their lives, I tend to add every other negative feeling I have with/related to them to my neurological Miso reaction. The result is a bomb explosion.

  2. Sheila March 21, 2014 - Reply

    You touched an interesting point here: I often wonder whether developing a more respectful and accepting attitude towards all elements of our (especially human) environment could improve handling the hypersensitivity.
    An attitude of being ok with things that don’t meet our ideal images (such as people who, for example in your case, don’t have a “nice and honest energy”) might help us deal with the negativity of what are now triggers for us..

    • mmaria March 25, 2014 - Reply

      Sorry for not replying you earlier.
      I guess I can say this, I used to be a judgmental person, but I did change that and my attitude towards people changed. It wasn’t easy and I worked a lot on myself over the years. I used to have an emotional reaction when judging people that don’t fit my own rules. I’m not like that anymore. I don’t react emotionally and I don’t judge people like that anymore… but I still don’t agree with the thing they do f.e. It’s different now, my attitude towards them is different and better, but my Miso it’s the same, attitude changed or not.

  3. Maddie March 21, 2014 - Reply

    I’ve noticed things with this too. I think because you focus so much on the details of a person, you quickly become aware of ALL their little quirks. I found this with some professors at school- the longer a class went, the more I found to annoy me. If you aren’t really paying attention, you are unlikely to hear anything, unless it is a regular trigger. I’m a lot less selective than you are, but a lot of times, the first time I hear someone eat, it won’t register. After that, it bothers me. Interesting to hear your side.

    • mmaria March 25, 2014 - Reply

      I think also that, the more time you spend with the person and more frequently you see or hear their specific sounds or movements, the more you’ll be bothered by them.
      For me, it’s not that easy to not pay attention on someone. It’s in my blood now. I automatically detect small details in or on a person and that just can’t be stopped. But somehow Miso chooses when it will react and when not, and that I want to figure out. I manage to understand a lot but, not enough.

  4. Sheila March 25, 2014 - Reply

    Your behavior towards and reactions to those people have changed, but has your basic attitude towards that which doesn’t go by your rules – in general and specifically in other people’s personalities and behaviors – changed? (Do you truly feel respect for the “other” or have you just learned to deal with a certain disrespect, tolerate the “other”, after having convinced yourself that you should do so?)

    Forgive me if these questions sound a bit sharp, I am asking you actually as reflection of myself… I know that in my case, I suffer often from triggers around people who, for example, I find to be sloppy (contrary to myself). And in the moments of triggered Miso, I feel a general impression of sloppiness in the air… And I’ve learned to respect the fact that they’re different to me and I love them and respect them as people very much, but still, this impression of sloppiness is there when Miso happens.. So I ask myself whether I’ve truly learned to accept this quality of sloppiness as part of my life or simply managed to tolerate it.

    Another question (from quite a different angle) that comes to my mind now: When your Miso is triggered, do you sense a more intense physicality of the action that causes the sound? For example, if it’s chewing, do you get an image or a feeling of what’s going on in that mouth at that moment? Or if it’s this kind of snorting sound, do you get a feeling in your throat?

    This perspective of looking at the selectivity of triggers is connected, in my opinion, with an overly high level of empathy towards our environment. This would also explain why the people closest to us are the ones by whom we are most affected. And why things that we feel are unpleasant trigger more often or more intensely.

    Apologies for the long reply :-)
    But I’d really love to know what you think.. :-)

    • mmaria March 26, 2014 - Reply

      first off all, please don’t apologize, I’m so happy for the fact you found me and we’re able to talk about this subject. I’m grateful for your questions because they tell me that there is someone who understand and approached this almost the same as I do.
      Funny you mentioned sloppiness as an example. Could you give me another, easier example, because that characteristic is one of few that I extremely react on? ;)
      I have to agree with you here completely. I learned to deal with it, it didn’t go away.
      Some characteristics I managed to fully invalidate trough that process of accepting the differences but some, like sloppiness, I didn’t. I just learned to deal with it. My emotional response towards that characteristic didn’t change in the core, but the conscious decision about what will I do with those feelings did. That is when observing myself without Miso. Adding Miso in this equation (those moments when triggers are happening), will produce, along with the strong Miso reaction, these feelings: I feel angry at myself and sad because it’s like I’m again at the beginning of that “coping with certain characteristics” journey.
      I’ll add here that I think my tendency for “being in control of everything” have a huge role and didn’t help either.
      But, in the other hand, is it really possible to be that much of a tolerable person in general? Talking about non Miso people here. Do we ask too much from ourselves?
      I remember my grand mother behavior towards this mentioned characteristic. It was the same as mine. Too bad she passed away before I found out about Miso because we did have lots of in common. Genetic role here also?

      As for your second question, my answer is, I do. In my case, those images following my reactions are more intense when there’s a feeling of disgust involved with particular triggers and people. And I completely agree with your opinion on empathy.

      • Sheila March 30, 2014 - Reply

        The control issue – like you also speak about in your OCD post – is also what I’ve seen as the source for all these issues in me for a very long time.

        It’s only recently that I came up with the idea that it might also have something to do with empathy. And actually, I think there is also a relation between the two – control and empathy. Empathy is me stretching myself outwards, outside of myself and into the mental or emotional territory of the other. And with control issues it is the same movement just in the opposite direction – the other enters my sphere.

        I wonder whether the point connecting both may be a lack of borders between me and the other in my mind. When I say this, I don’t mean to say that there is an actual lack of borders, but rather really just in my mind. That I cannot see with clear vision the place where I end and the other begins, the place where they end and I begin.

        If you’d like to think a bit deeper about the empathy direction, I’d recommend you to watch video No. 6 (“Understanding Empathy and Shame”) under this link: You need to sign in, but it’s free. And there are a few things there that are definitely thought provoking.

        • mmaria April 1, 2014 - Reply

          I’ll certainly will watch that video.
          I, like you, spent a lot of time thinking about the empathy, or should I say, I had to because I needed the protection for myself. Highly pronounced empathy needed a defensive mechanism. Again, the control.
          I learned to deal with my empathy in another healthier way but we then have to leave all the rationality and enter to the sphere of spirituality.
          When a person really wants to change themselves or just “upgrade” to a better version the role of the recognition of what is really going on and being able to rationally step aside from your feelings is, I think, the most important in that change.

        • mmaria April 2, 2014 - Reply

          I’ve just watched this video and I certainly recommend it for everyone who is working on their self acceptance.
          But this is actually a great example for my Miso being selective. The first speaker, the woman with the short hair (didn’t remember their names, sorry) triggered my Miso as soon as she started to speak. The controlled tone of her voice and all her controlled movements and accentuation of words bothered me. She relaxed a bit in the very end when she smiled a bit sincerely. The person who was talking the most, didn’t trigger me at all. She made impression of a truly nice and “being truly herself” person. She gesticulated much and make much mimicking but I didn’t mind at all. I enjoyed.

          • Sheila April 6, 2014 -

            It’s interesting, I thought much about a connection between empathy and control but never came up with the idea of control acting as defense mechanism for high empathy. That makes a lot of sense.
            I suppose that one healthy way of dealing with this is really setting limits, already in advance if possible. In that way the level of control is from the beginning on measured, rational; it would release from the need to compensate for an over-emphatic attitude with hyper-control.
            Of course, that’s easier said than done. But I guess that’s part of what we have to work on..

  5. Valerie October 8, 2014 - Reply

    This might be totally unrelated, but I’ve been wondering about a connection between people with higher levels of empathy and miso as well. I was raised to constantly be aware of how I was affecting others….to an extreme. Always told I was being too loud, or stepping in someone’s way, or inconveniencing someone in some way. Because of this, I’m constantly worrying over inconveniencing people and constantly telling my husband to get out of the passing lane while driving, or to keep his voice down for the neighbors, or not to swear in public because there might be children, and on top of all this worry I am constantly paying attention to everyone around me and their reactions and body language….it’s emotionally DRAINING. So I think that miso is just the straw breaking the camel’s back. I’m already on sensory overload, when along comes this soft/repetitive noise that because of my empathy/whatever-it-is I feel COMPELLED to give my attention to! Like I feel bad for ignoring or missing anything coming from anyone around me, and I can’t NOT pay attention to it! But when it’s added to everything else I’m already trying to pay attention to, the annoyance and interruption is so great that I cannot handle it, turning it into a fight or flight response. Haha. Take it or leave it, this is my personal miso theory :)

    • mmaria November 26, 2014 - Reply


      I completely understand your point of view and can find myself in your story. I’m very empathetic also and worry about other people but honestly, not that much. So agree with you that it’s emotionally draining!
      I haven’t really thought about Miso-empathy in the way you described “being compelled to pay attention because you’re doing that non stop for other things.” Maybe because I connect empathy with something that’s ok, even good, and Miso I connect with everything that’s opposite of ok and good.
      You also mentioned “sensory overload” and I do think it has a big part in Miso reactions.
      I’m curious did you try to change your “feeling bad when not paying attention to others” and to what extent you could actually change it because it seems that you’re doing that because you’re very empathetic and on top of tat because you’re taught to be that way?

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