We all have our pet peeves, but if you hate chewing sounds more than the average person, it could be something more serious.
This is not an uncommon irritation. Given the choice, the majority of us would probably rather not listen to a coworker go to town on a sandwich in the cube next to us. But in some cases, extreme aversions to these kinds of sounds can indicate an actual condition called misophonia, or the "hatred of sound".
The Academic Medical Center (AMC) of Amsterdam has been conducting research on the condition for the past few years.
Although it has yet to be widely recognized as a formal medical condition, AMC psychiatrist Arjan Schroeder claims this is anything but a rare disorder.
"For the people that come here, the symptoms are so severe that they are clearly suffering," he says. "They can't eat together with others, sleep in the same room, or even go to work. Misophonia has so much effect on them, that they start avoiding places. And that only makes it worse."
Okay, that certainly sounds like much more than just a mildly annoying part of one's day.
Schroeder and his collaborator Professor Damian Denys have published an article that argues for the legitimacy of misophonia as a disorder, but it looks like they still have some work to do when it comes to convincing the medical community.
If you're reading this and freaking out that you may have an undiagnosed condition, rest easy. According to Schroeder and Denys, misophonia exists on a wide spectrum, like most psychological disorders. There's a large portion of people who experience it on a small scale—you know, like when you roll your eyes as the dude loudly chewing gum next to you on the train.
But for those of us whose symptoms are more severe, there could be a wait before legitimate resources are available for treatment.
Hopefully the work being done at the AMC will continue gaining, so those who need help can receive it.