Hatred of Sound

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hello, I’m 14 and I have struggled with symptoms of depression and anxiety for two years, along with rage brought on by sensitivity to certain sounds. These sounds include all eating sounds, ripping paper, any combination of skin and fabric rubbing against each other (skin and skin, skin and fabric, fabric and fabric), kissing sounds, and keyboards. Also some speaking noises and annunciations such as Bs, Ps, and Ss. Also I’m bothered by small repetitive movements like feet rubbing, thumbs tapping, and hair twirling. When I hear these sounds I literally feel the urge to attack. I feel like I need to hurt something; even myself.

Hearing a sound that triggers these episodes makes me want to scream, kick and cry. I usually go up to my room, before my parents see any tears, and sob into a pillow and scratch, or bite, or beat on my arms, legs, and head. When I’m in the midst of one of these episodes it’s a painful, awful frustration that makes me want to die; anything to escape it. I’ve thought of many ways that I could kill myself quickly and painlessly.

Obviously I have never tried any of the ideas and my parents still don’t know what I’m going through. It’s very hard because now I’ve become the problem child in my family. The sounds bother me more when a family member is making them. For instance my mom will kiss my little sister and I’ll barge over and start yelling at her, not to stop (so that she won’t know), but about something else random just to get the anger out. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world, like you are totally losing control and you can’t do anything about it. After I hear a sound like that I feel the impulse to make that sound. I have to do it and then I suffer even more remembering how it sounds. However, I would hear the sounds replaying in my head even if I didn’t recreate them.

I’m worried that if the problem is not addressed it could worsen and I could pick up more sounds that make me freak out. I’ve done about all the research that I could do, given that its a little known topic. Does this sound like Misophonia to you? If so, what should I do? How do I go about telling someone? Thank you so much.

A:My goodness! Why on earth have you kept this to yourself? You have a legitimate problem and you are letting your parents and siblings believe that you are a “bad” kid. Huh?

Some people have what are called “sensory processing disorders.” This means that they react either too little or too much outside the range of usual to sensory stimulation. For some people, specific fabrics or how a food feels in the mouth can be intolerable. Other kids don’t feel things enough and put themselves in danger. For example: When a kid doesn’t feel heat and gets too close to the stove, he can get badly burned. Any of the five senses (vision, smell, hearing, touch, taste) can be involved. Some people suffer (and, yes, it is genuine suffering) from more than one sensory disturbance.

I can’t give you a diagnosis on the basis of a letter. What I can do is let you know that your experience is real and that you need help learning how to deal with it. Whatever you’ve been doing to manage clearly isn’t working.

Please show your letter and this response to your parents. You need an evaluation from a mental health counselor who specializes in sensory processing disorders. Once you’ve had a thorough assessment, the counselor will make recommendations to you and your folks about ways to help you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Feb 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Hatred of Sound. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/02/13/hatred-of-sound/