“I can’t stand it when I hear Mum eating. Can I turn on the radio?” Oliver shocked his parents at the lunch table with this sentence when he was twelve years old. A little later, he began to avoid all situations where food was being eaten. “At the table I sat as far away from my mother as possible. I got angry just seeing her jaw move. Then I would stare at my own plate and get up as fast as I could,” Oliver says. The worst thing for him are people chewing gum.
Andreas, his father and a psychotherapeutic alternative practitioner, quickly recognised signs of a phobia in his son’s symptoms. “I called it chewing phobia. But no therapy helped,” he recalls. What followed was a year-long tour from therapist to therapist, psychologist to psychologist, interrupted by anti-aggression seminars, hypnosis sessions and tapping therapies.
“Nothing has made any difference. Quite the opposite. Especially with confrontation therapies, which are used to treat phobias, everything got much worse,” says his father. In the meantime, he knows why: Misophonia is an acquired reflex in which muscle reactions play a role. “The muscles activate the area of the brain that is responsible for anger. That’s the difference with people who just don’t like a sound.” By chance, he stumbled across the Misophonia website of our project. “I was amazed at how many people suffer from it. I didn’t realise that one in 10 to 20 people would jump at noises they can’t stand,” says Andreas.