Living with Misophonia and how many people it affects
One definition of Misophonia (pronounced Miss-o-phone-ia), is a hatred of sound, and is something that affects a number of people not just here in New Jersey but around the world.
A documentary film on the condition called 'Quiet Please...' has a screening coming to Asbury Park next week on the 20th starting at 7pm at The Showroom.
The director of the film Jeff Gould, has a resume filled with award winning films from various categories and this one is on a condition he is personally affiliated with.
"I've had misophonia since I was seven years old and I'm now 56, but I didn't realize there was a name for this condition or that it was even a condition" said Gould. "I just thought it was a weird quirk of mine."
Gould says it was about four years ago when he found out what he was going through after a call from a friend who saw an episode of "20/20" and he was more informed on the neurological condition.
"Once I found out it was a real thing, it was the most incredible feeling because nobody wants to feel like their alone or that there's something wrong with just them," said Gould. "So after all these years, 47 years or so, it was really cathartic and kind of life changing to hear."
Following this news Gould said he went home and started doing some online research when he discovered what he was looking at were the symptoms he had been living with.
"When you have this, everyday sounds that most people don't even notice...they actually cause like a physiological response," said Gould. "You actually feel an adrenaline release, your heart starts racing, and you get angry...sometimes the word disgust can attach with that too."
This is drawn he adds from when someone makes an offending sound because it triggers the condition from being around "a noxious sound".
"When you hear theses sounds, you just react," said Gould. "It's not illogical, it's not a conscious decision, you can't even think about it...it just happens."
Gould says even if it's someone scraping a fork across a plate or chewing, he asks himself why it bothers him so much, so he tries to analyze what's happening and talk himself out of the situation that is bothering him.
But he can't because he can't control the reaction, he adds.
"It goes to a part of the brain called the 'Amygdala' without getting too scientific...which controls your fight or flight response, which is your survival mechanism" said Gould.
He adds the fight-flight response goes to the Amygdala first instead of the logical part of the brain which is the reason you can't think your way out of that situation, so you just react instead.
"I try not to react but sometimes it just shows because it's a physical change...people see it on your face (and), they see it in your body language" said Gould. "The older I get, the worse it becomes and in interviewing 45 people (for the film), they concurred that it gets worse as you get older."
Many people across the world may experience a lot of these symptoms but may not know what's going on with them and may be fear stricken, and Gould says that is the target audience in his film.
"If you have this and you know about it, then that's step one," said Gould. "It's the people who were like I was who don't know they have something. They know they're experiencing something but they don't know what it is which makes it more confusing and you think your an awful person."
He adds he has received hundreds of emails from around the world, like one man who watched the trailer and fell to tears because he no longer felt alone.
Gould said his film wasn't necessarily about research but the physiological and emotional ramifications of this condition.
Misophonia is a neurological condition you may not be aware of whether or not your experiencing any of the tell tale symptoms but Gould says it may be more of a focal attentive point in our lives that we may realize.
"I think it's a lot more prevalent than we realize, but there's also a taboo about it," said Gould. "When trying to find subjects for the film, I found people and they were like 'Well you know what, I would love to but I'm not ready to'."
He adds many of them weren't ready to speak openly about it with people at work, friends or family because for some it was about not letting them know what they have which Gould said he wanted to address in the film.
"That was another goal with the film is to break down some of those myths and the stigmas and empower people to be able to talk about it," said Gould. "That's how the whole film came to be. When I found out I started telling all of my friends."
After speaking with his friends he found they came to understand what it was that he was going through, and how much certain noises affected him.
"I don't want to ever control somebody's life and say 'don't do that!'," said Gould. "You can ask somebody for help, especially friends and people that supposedly love you. I think it's okay to ask for help."
He says this helps subdue some of the effects anyone feels from this condition by simply being mindful of what bothers that person.
"Psychologically when somebody makes an effort to help you, it reduces the affect of the reaction when you hear the sound," said Gould. "I just found that my life got better the more I spoke about it."