Do you find the sound of a tablemate chewing with his mouth open slightly annoying or does it trigger outright anger?
Those diagnosed with a newly recognized condition called misophonia are driven to panic and rage by certain small sounds like chewing, slurping and gulping.
Misophonia sufferers find these sounds more than just mildly annoying. Beginning in late childhood or early adolescence, the condition causes extreme anger, anxiety and terror when a trigger sound, such as chewing gum, is heard. Some patients use ear plugs, white noise machines or simple avoidance to steer clear of their trigger sounds, as an effective treatment has yet to be found.
According to neuroscientist Aage R. Moller:
the condition is hard-wired, like right- or left-handedness, and is probably not an auditory disorder but a "physiological abnormality" that resides in brain structures activated by processed sound.
Lip-smacking at the table drives us to distraction, but thankfully not rage. How about you?
• Read more: When a Chomp or a Slurp Is a Trigger for Outrage at the New York Times
Related: Do's and Don'ts: Eating on Public Transit
(Image: Flickr member Martin Cathrae licensed under Creative Commons)