Seen At 11: How Misophonia Sufferers Cope With Everyday Sounds

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The very thought of nails on a chalk board can make most people squirm, but imagine some every day sounds having an even worse effect on you.

As CBS2’s Kristine Johnson reported, it’s a real condition called Misophonia and it can make day to day life almost impossible.

For Paul Tabachneck, many common sounds are known as “triggers.”

“When someone cracks their knuckles around me, it feels like getting punched in the face,” he said.

The snap of a lighter can cause an intense reaction.

“‘Flick snick,’ I’ll grab it from them,” Tabachneck said.

Or this: “Would you please stop crunching your ice for God sakes, you lunatic.”

Even the click of a pen can send him into a rage.

Tabachneck has Misophonia, a condition defined — literally — as a hatred of sound.

There are a growing number of people who are being diagnosed with it, but it’s still largely a mystery, Johnson reported.

“It’s a neurologic cross-wiring. We don’t know exactly what caused it,” said audiologist Dr. Melanie Herzfeld.

Sufferers experience extreme emotional reactions and even feel physical pain from certain every day sounds.

“Our neural mechanism has made it so that if there is a sound we don’t like, there is a coping strategy,” Dr. Herzfeld said. “Their neural mechanism has made it so they don’t have that coping strategy.”

“I got to have something that cancels out the noise,” Tabachneck said.

Like most people who have it, Tabachneck has been suffering since he was a child.

“I had a reputation for a long time for being very difficult,” he said.

Using ear buds to block out sounds like crackling water bottles or gum chewing has helped Tabachneck, and one thing that he can handle is music.

Watch Paul Tabachneck Play His Song, “Misophone:”

Paul Dion said he also finds an escape in music. But as a Misophonia sufferer, he also finds misery in every day sounds.

“Like sneezing, coughing and chewing. Those are the types of things I can only hear for a few seconds before I react very strongly,” he said.

There is no known cure yet, but white noise machines and mediations can bring calm and relief to many along with medication, Johnson reported.

“And so coping strategy is really the answer to everything they’re going through. They really have to know how to survive,” Dr. Herzfeld said.

Specialists also suggest meditation and even exposure to similar sounds to help Misophonia suffers to cope.

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