MISOPHONIA TREATMENT & CAUSE
Misophonia is a condition in which a person has an overly intense reaction or disgust to specific, normal sounds: you can’t stand certain sounds.
After reading this piece, you’ll understand what misophonia is, what (very likely) causes misophonia and how to get rid of it!
So it doesn’t have to be a lifelong condition for which there is no cure. In this article, you’ll read how.
Misophonia literally means “hatred of sound.” A person with misophonia becomes extremely irritated, angry or one gets another unpleasant feeling from certain normal sounds. These are more of severe cases of misophonia symptoms.
Think of the sound of a belt buckle, a licking dog, shaking a leg, tapping fingers, clicking a pen, eating chips or a smacking child. These are trigger sounds. Often, not always, it is a specific person where a misophone suffers these feelings: often, a family member . And often, not always, specific triggers are eating sounds.
Good news, there are two working possible treatments for it. Read on to discover the cause of and both working therapy’s.
- Miles Barn Treatment
- Noah's Dinner
- AMC Treatment
- Not an acknowledged disorder
- How to treat?
- Is it connected to autism?
- Is it connected to ADHD?
- Is it connected to depression?
- Is exposure a good treatment method?
- Are noise canceling headphones a good treatment method?
- Pink noise, braun noise, white noise?
- Paced breathing?
- Tinnitus retraining a good treatment method?
- Is anger the only emotional reaction?
- Medication treatment?
Books and Sources
1. The Cause of Misophonia
Until recently, the cause of misophonia was unknown. And there was no treatment method. But that has all changed with the Unified Brain Model, discovered by Dutch holistic researcher therapist Jacob Korthuis.
Hypersensitivity to certain sounds is a reaction of your survival system. A trigger sound evokes emotional reactions and feelings in your body. Your brain does this automatically.
The reason this happens is your body's protection program which continuously compares everything you experience in the now, with what you've experienced in the past. Many mental health professionals agree behavior is driven by genes and surroundings. Misophonia triggers are no different.
Following similarities in the now, with unpleasant past events that have not been processed properly.
The sounds and other stimuli against which you experience discomfort are connected to those events. The discomfort actually actually are your misophonia symptoms, not the cause.
Simply put: The cause is poorly processed painful or fearful experiences.
Because they are painful experiences, you often can’t remember those experiences or only partially remember them. As a result, you are not aware. Exactly those experiences can’t be healed by other methods like, for example EMDR.
Read on for an example, you will probably immediately sense: yes, that’s how my brain and body work.
2. Is it trauma?
With trauma, many people think of big things, like accidents or a trauma helicopter. However, trauma is simply another word for “injury.”
An injury is the result of stress, by violence or outside force. Either or both physical and mental.
An argument at the dinner table where stress crosses someone’s threshold: causes trauma. And sometimes those wounds don’t spend time to heal correctly.
3. New Treatment Method
A new treatment method that resolves misophonia is progressive mental alignment (PMA), which was confirmed to work in Emiel ten Hoor's misophonia research (2022).
We owe the method to Jacob Korthuis’ discovery of the Unified Brain Model and his research to turn this discovery into a treatment method, in which he and his team succeeded.
With PMA, you process and repair painful events in your life, including those that have been pushed away or you can’t remember.
It’s easy to understand how and why this occurs, with the following example.
4. Noah's Dinner
Imagine a child is not feeling well during dinner. Mom and dad want the child to eat to finish it’s dinner. Let's call him Noah. On the menu is onion soup.
The tension at the table rises; dad is very strict. Finish your soup! He starts to breath more heavily, looking angry with fire in his eyes and eye brows contracting. He forces the child to eat the onion soup. Mommy loves daddy and feels he is so right. So she adds to it: eat it, bitch!
The child, because it simply is and feels sick, instinctively knows it should not eat. And experiences high levels of stress. It finishes the soup due to his parents pressure, but the body says: no way you're eating, you’re ill. You shouldn’t eat! And Noah throws up!
He now experiences even more mental pressure, pain and anxiety. It just got way worse. The smell is so filthy. Not only is he feeling ill, but he has vomited as well. Mom and Dad HATE vomit. So gross! “What will happen next, will they kill me?” he thinks, while he cringes and Dad adds with a loud voice: “That's so gross Noah, what a stupid child you are!”.
Noah will absolutely store this experience in it’s body. To avoid this pressure, pain and fear in the future. How brain and body store this experience, entirely depends on his perceptions.
In this example, he may store his father’s heavy breathing, as a warning signal. The angry look, especially the angle of the eye brows and fire in his eyes. The words “eat it, bitch” his mom voiced, as those words were ringing in his ears. He may store the dinner table and it’s general surroundings he sensorially perceived.
Imagine a future scenario where father, at the same table, starts breathing or looking the same way, while telling a story about that “bitch” at work, which his mom repeat's: “She is such a bitch”.
Noah immediately becomes more alert and feels discomfort. He might even, subconsciously, produce the thought “I am such a stupid child”.
This process happens on auto pilot. The brain and body of the child sensorially perceive multiple signals a similar situation as in the past (onion soup vomiting) might occur and alerts him.
The chance Noah will happily eat onion soup in the future, is very small.
Your body trains itself with these reactions, to prevent you from experiencing pain and fear again. It does so automatically. It’s your learning and protection mechanism. A true friend.
As you read this, you probably intuitively sense this is indeed how your body and brain work. Everyone knows examples. Noah might now be 15, and very probably does not even realize why he dislikes onion soup.
This mechanism is wonderful; it prevents future pain and anxiety. The mechanism even is an anticipation machine: It will predict outcomes and act accordingly.
These potential underlying mechanisms are important and needed. Friends affect people who keep you safe.
Sometimes this brilliant mechanism gets in your way. For example, when there are multiple stimuli but with no chance of pain or fear for you. In this example, despite multiple similar stimuli being sensorially perceived, there is not present danger for Noah. Father is simply telling a story about work, which has nothing to do with the child.
Long story short: this is how your brain and body work together. Your body raises your alertness, and it has a good reasons for doing so: badly or unprocessed pain or fear from the past.
With misophonia, triggering sounds can become the stimuli that get in your way. And affect your mental health. Fortunately, we can heal this very well.
By reliving these kinds of experiences and then processing them quickly and properly, your misophonia stops and your mental health improves greatly.
With the PMA-questioning technique you do a great job of healing old pain and fear. Especially experiences you were not even aware of anymore. In the process of healing, you'll heal a lot more than misophonia alone.
The PMA approach works quickly and well. The younger you are, the faster it works. The method works in person, but video calls deliver the exact same results. The vital part is, the coach can observe your body language while in session. In four to eight sessions of approximately 2 hours, each session 2 weeks apart, will set you free. The method is exposure free, does not work with coping strategies and only involves reliving experiences in treating misophonia.
5. Another way of treating misophonia: AMC The Netherlands.
The Amsterdam University Medical Center has developed a method to treat misophonia based on misophonia research by the team of Damiaan Denys. A treatment that is intensive, half an hour to an hour each day over an extended period of time.
The treatment does several things. It does not address the cause. But it does teach you how to deal with it by, among other things, relaxation exercises, stress management and pairing the specific sounds you react so much to with other, more positive sounds (contra-conditioning).
The treatment is effective in about 3 out of 4 people. Unfortunately, as of April 2022, there is no more space: There is an enrollment freeze.
It indicates the great need for the treatment of misophonia. By the way, a tip: exposure, exposing yourself to the sounds or associated stimuli without doing anything else with it should NOT be used with misophonia. It makes things worse if you do not combine it with other treatment methods.
6. Is the Miles Barn Misophonia program reimbursed?
Yes, Dutch clients can get the costs reimbursed from the personal budget you apply for at the municipality where you live. Here you can read how to apply for the PGB for you, or your child.
7. Misophonia not a recognized psychiatric disorder
Misophonia is not (yet) a recognized mental disorder. Once it is, it means that the cause of misophonia is at least partly psychological. And as you read above, it is: the origin lies in painful experiences that have not been processed (properly), combined with your genes.
8. How do you treat misophonia?
You can take various approaches, but the approach we take to resolve misophonia at its core is progressive mental alignment: Heal the underlying mental injury(s). We do not work with counter-conditioning, exposure or coping methodologies. Strictly reliving experiences.
9. Is misophonia connected to autism?
It could be connected to other mental health conditions, and well being but at Miles Barn we treat you as an individual, not your labels. It’s about how you live, and what you’ve experienced in your life. And we work with that.
10. Is misophonia connected to ADHD?
It could be connected to different mental health and other conditions, but at Miles Barn we treat you as an individual, not your labels. It’s about how you live, and what you’ve experienced in your life. And we work with that.
11. Is misophonia connected to depression?
It could be connected to other mental health conditions, but at Miles Barn we treat you as an individual, not your labels. It’s about how you live, and what you’ve experienced in your life. And we work with that.
12. Is misophonia hereditary?
Misophonia is hereditary, but you don't have to inherit it. That nuance is very important. We know from the most recent research feelings affect which “genes” in DNA are turned on and off. And feelings are influenced by what you experience in life, and how people around you react.
First of all, when your parents fix things that improve their feelings and behavior, suddenly you are much less likely to inherit the negative effects of those experiences in your parents genes (if you are subsequently conceived).
Second of all, their behavior in similar situations that they themselves experienced as children will greatly improve. Which means they won't transfer things to you in your upbringing.
And finally, in the now, you can resolve things yourself which will improve your feelings (balance). After which the chance your children will inherit negative consequences of the things you have resolved, will be much smaller.
This is how you break negative circles of feelings and behavior which sometimes are active in families for decades.
The above may read like abracadabra, and even seem implausible. But since about 2020 we know for sure, scientifically substantiated, that feelings directly influence our DNA by enabling of disabling genes with proteins.
It takes too far to explain this on this page. You can order the book by Emiel ten Hoor (founder of Miles Barn) here.
13. Is EMDR a good treatment option?
Yes and no. EMDR has value, but it works in a limited way. EMDR works on experiences of which you are aware and conscious.
Experiences, with many emotions, you are completely unaware of, cause the worst disturbances in your body and altered brain activity. With progressive mental alignment you can reach those experiences and with EMDR you can not. PMA takes your sensory data and physiology as a starting point to go on, where EMDR stops. With PMA you fix issues problems holistically.
14. Can misophonia be cured?
Contrary to many publications stating the opposite, misophonia can indeed be cured.
15. Is exposure to trigger sounds a treatment option?
It is not. Exposure can be part of a treatment method, but in our opinion it should be avoided and if it can’t be avoided, only use trigger sounds in combination with PMA.
Exposure without processing worsens misophonia and we absolutely advise against it.
16. Are noise canceling headphones a treatment option?
It is not. In the short them it alleviates symptoms, but in the long term it worsens your hyper focus on the sounds while not wearing noise cancelling solutions. We advise against it.
17. Is brown noise, pink noise or white noise a treatment option?
Yes it is. Ambient noise is not treatment but a way to lower your general stress levels in daily life. You offer your ears the full range of frequencies with brown or pink noise and sympathetic resonance will make your ears and brain “reset” itself to the right frequencies. There is a lot of theory behind this sentence and science is backing this up more and more. Contact Emiel ten Hoor to learn more about this. We prefer to go with brown noise, as it has lowered levels of high frequencies compared to white noise.
18. Is paced, rhythmic breathing a treatment option?
Yes it is. It is not treatment but a way to lower your general stress levels in daily life. If you breath rhythmicly and evenly in and out, you calm down your physiology. For instance 5 seconds in, 5 seconds out in an evenly manner. This is one of the most effective relaxation techniques.
19. Is tinnitus retraining therapy a treatment option?
It might be for people with misophonia as well. However, we prefer the progressive mental alignment therapy over any other therapy for good reasons:
- It the only method we know, which is able to let you fully relive painful experiences
- realigns beliefs at the root of your conditioning
- relive and realign situations you have zero conscious awareness of, which influence you daily.
20. Is anger the only feeling misophonia evokes?
When you diagnose misophonia, anger appears to be the most occurring emotion. But any other emotional distress can be evoked. Flight, wanting to get away from the room where the triggering happens, is the second most common reaction. The third most common response is freeze: you appear to go absent completely. These are the more severe symptoms. In short: freeze, fight or flight are the most common reactions.
Triggering sounds (and all other stimuli), fortunately, also have positive effects. Think of someone saying “I love you” to you, the sound of a kiss, or a song that you have a very fond memory of.
As soon as you hear the song, the feelings and behavior of the memory is recalled. Often you can listen to such a song endlessly. Remember a song you heard during the first date or kiss with your partner? Chances are you do.
This is very important to realize, because you also have many positive triggering sounds and other triggers which make you feel better. And progressive mental alignment makes you increasingly aware of those positive stimuli. We call this “working with your friend mechanism.”
21. Does medication exist?
We are unaware of any medication treatment options, however generally speaking you might consult your doctor for stress relief medication, reported to help by many patients. Consult your doctor before taking any medication.
Books and resources:
ARTICLE: Misophonia not a recognized disorder
ARTICLE: Amsterdam UMC Psychiatry Misophonia
ARTICLE: EMDR possibly good treatment method misophonia
BOOK: The Unified Brain Model book
BOOK: Desirable Power – Learn the progressive mental alignment technique
BOOK: Misophonia Help Book by Arnoud van Loon & Marthe van der Pol
RESEARCH: Dr. Kumar Newcastle University – Misophonia also triggered by visual triggers such as face, mouth & throat https://www.jneurosci.org/content/41/26/5762
VIDEO: The influence of emotions on DNA (and thus disease) – Pierre Capel in conversation with Marlies Dekkers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8VOdtNewWg