What is Misophonia or Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome?
Currently, this complicated question eludes a simple answer. misophonia is a new term. However, auditory sensitivities with strikingly similar symptoms have been studied for decades, in regard to numerous other disorders and in basic neuroscience. Therefore, there is a body of research with which we can begin to develop hypotheses regarding misophonia. It is essential, however, to remember that research specific to misophonia is in it's infancy. As of now, there is no evidence based treatment for Misophonia, and any treatment is essentially experimental. However, this does not mean we are without hope! Because of the applicable research that has already been done in related disorders and processes, we are ahead of the game! In addition, there are numerous ways those with misophonia can cope with the disorder, despite how challenging this may seem. Does this mean there are no professionals that can help you? No! There are professionals across disciplines who can help you cope with misophonia in various ways.
What is all this Confusion with Terminology?
The term misophonia, which literally means “hatred of sound,” was first coined by Jastreboff and Jastreboff (2001). Dr. Pawel Jastreboff is a Professor of otolaryngology at Emory University, and Margaret Jastreboff holds a PhD in biology (and has post doctoral training in pharmacology and molecular biology). Yet, emphasis in new research focuses mostly on how they went about “terming the disorder” and not on their theory. For example, Johnson, an Audiologist who practices in the U.S., feels that the disorder should be called Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome or “4S”. In addition, there is now a name for aversive responsivity to movement (as “seen” through the visual sense) called misokinesia, termed by Arjan Schroder (2014). So, as is the case in the health, mental health, and all the allied fields we struggle with continual changing definitions and terminology, complicating our ability to understand that which is incomprehensible even to our greatest scientists. Finally, Sensory Over-Responsivity may be a viable umbrella term that subsumes misophonia and mikoinesia and other forms of sensitivity to sensory stimuli. However, this does not preclude the necessity for cross-disciplinary study of the disorder and cross-disciplinary coping skills models.
Is Misophonia A Neurological, Psychiatric, Auditory Disorder, Or All Of The Above?
The small body of research emerging in misophonia addresses its specific symptoms, possible causes, overlaps with other disorders, and the extent to which the disorder impairs suffers’ lives. However, since misophonia is new, the research is in its infancy. Classifications of disorders are presumably based upon their underlying causes. Thus, if a disorder is caused by a neurological problem, we would call it a “neurological” disorder. However, in modern times it is very difficult to categorize disorders this way since disorders overlap, and causality is often unknown. This, of course, adds to confusion. Having made this disclaimer…misophonia has mostly garnered attention from researchers in audiology/otology, psychology/psychiatry (mainly pertaining to obsessive compulsive and related disorders), and in neuroscience (related to synesthesia, basic processes and auditory pathways).
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