Sabrina Svirskaya was getting eyelash extensions at a local salon when she suddenly started sweating and feeling overwhelmingly anxious. She jumped from her chair and ran outside.
“I was in the back of the salon and this woman — I guess she was on a break — and she was just slurping her soup,” she recalled.“I had to hang out for 20 minutes to calm down.”
Svirskaya, 21, has a sound sensitivity known as misophonia.
Do you hate when someone smacks their lips, repeats a sound or sniffs? Does it make you want to punch them like Robert DeNiro wants to punch President Donald Trump? If so, welcome to the community.
Researchers recently found that people with the condition have an abnormality in the emotional control mechanism, as observed by brain imaging. The sufferer’s brain goes into overdrive when hearing trigger sounds and the reaction is visceral.
Svirskaya, a student at SUNY New Paltz, said she feels bad when she “bugs out” at her mom for eating, but said she tries to control herself.
“I’ve never really blown up,” she told Metro, “but I got into a really bad fight with my roommate because she wouldn’t stop eating her chips.”
No longer able to take public transportation, Svirskaya said she has to take a car everywhere and even sneaks into quiet buildings on campus, where she can study without the annoyance of a pen-clicking or toe-tapping student.
Misophonia is not recognized as a diagnosis by the medical community, a study author said, but patients with misophonia have “strikingly similar clinical features.”
Many with misophonia are often dismissed and told they are just being difficult or dramatic, Svirskaya said, adding that there is no treatment. She said she can only avoid situations that will cause her to sweat or have palpitations. Jamming earplugs in her ears is the closest she can get to living a normal life.
Michelle Lamarche Marrese, a Russian historian on the Upper East Side, committed suicide last year and,according to the New York Post, her 30-year battle with misophonia was the root of her problems.
“Unfortunately, the battles about noise (which ‘no one else can hear’) are destroying my marriage and my health,” she told the Post before her death.
Misophonia is not included in any neurological or psychiatric classifications of disorders and “sufferers do not report it for fear of the stigma that this might cause,” according to study authors. Yet the condition can disrupt a person's life, researchers say.
“I feel like it just makes you an angrier person,”Svirskayasaid.“I’m missing out on happiness.”
Follow Kimberly M. Aquilina on Twitter @KimESTAqui.