Misophonia or Personality Disorder?

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: There are days when my wife can’t stand the sound of me chewing. Some days it doesn’t seem to bother her, and at other times, she will scream at me like I have committed some terrible act. She may even jump up from the table, go to her room, and shut the door. Is there a name for this condition? Is there some way I can help her?

Answer: There is a condition called Misophonia, which literally means “hatred of sounds.” The condition was proposed in 2000 as a condition in which negative emotions, thoughts, and physical reactions are triggered by specific sounds. However, there are no standard diagnostic criteria for the condition, and it is not recognized in the DSM-V or the ICD-10, the systems used for diagnosing mental health disorders and medical conditions. As of this date, there is very little literature available on the condition.

From what I can find on the condition, only time will tell if more research will result in diagnostic criteria, whereby a diagnosis can be made, or if it will fade away as other conditions have.

Considering your particularly situation, I am struck by the extreme emotional reaction you described and her attacking you as she does, making me wonder if you might actually be seeing symptoms of a personality disorder. The particular symptoms I note are “screaming at you like you have committed some terrible act.” This might possibly be a symptom called “entitlement.” “I’m entitled to act this way, but you aren’t.”

Also, I note that she verbally attacked you. This may possibly be a symptom called “splitting,” particularly if she leaps from denigrating you to idealizing you. You did not mention how she treats you when not denigrating you. If she idealizes you at times, you may be experiencing “splitting.”

You might begin by encouraging her to see a therapist to rule out the possibility of misophonia. If it’s something else, hopefully the therapist will find that.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected].