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Last week I got notified by several friends that Misophonia (Misofonie) was in the news (Ig Nobelprijzen – Damiaan Denys – AMC). Now, you see … I don’t read or watch the news, as most of these articles are accompanied by triggering images, audio and videos. Also, with the specific news item I had to ask my friends to tell me more about the content.
What is Misophonia?
What bothers me about the news about Misophonia, is that when people try explaining what Misophonia is, they always add images and videos with sounds that are actually (very) disturbing for those with Misophonia. My opinion on this? By doing so, the people who have Misophonia and wish to learn more about it, can’t read or watch it at all. And the ones who don’t have it and who will read and/or watch it, still don’t get what all the sound-fuss is all about, isn’t it?
Misophonia is explained by various terms:
- Hatred of Sounds
- Sound Allergy
- Allergic to Sounds
- Selective Sound Sensitivity (This is my personal choice, as we don’t hate all sounds).
The topic ‘Misophonia’ (Dutch: Misofonie) is getting noticed and that makes me happy, although they – the researchers – still don’t know what really causes it. Thus; in the last couple of years I’ve looked at this condition from different perspectives myself. In my opinion, there are some logical causes for it and also possible cures. And you’ll read more about this in this blog!
I took part in one of the experimental groups at the AMC in 2015 to help us understand ‘Misophonia’. Only during the therapy I started to wonder who was teaching who and who was gaining from this whole experiment.
We were offered Cognitive Group Therapy and Psychomotor Therapy Sessions during 9 weeks. What was my experience? During the Psychomotor Therapy Sessions I learned what happens to my focus when the task I am given is either too simple or too difficult. In both cases I lose my focus and start to orientate myself towards the environment and/or my own experiences. Meaning I then start to focus on the sounds in the room and my feelings towards these. Working with the concept of ‘Task + Environment + Myself’ was useful!
However, I have to admit I am not satisfied with the whole set up of the therapy that was offered and I truly felt like a guinea pig. The program was a frustrating experience, because one therapist in particular who was leading the program, didn’t seem to understand the impact of showing images with disturbing sounds.
After having sent them a thorough evaluation of the program voluntarily after I finished the 9 weeks at the AMC, I never got a reply. I do hope that others have felt treated and understood, but it was not my experience at all.
Was it an upsetting experience? Yes, it was for me and I am so honest to say this too. Thus, after this 9-week program, I decided to explore other treatments myself and I will continue to do so. More about this later!
I’ve dealt with this condition for as long as I can remember and I am sharing all my insights, experiences and exercises with you that can help you get your sound story clear. It’s all on the course ‘Sound Champion‘ on Superchangechampion.com.
And yes, I don’t wear a white coat and I don’t have Dr. or LCP in front of my name. And people do seem to get upset when I tell them that I can guide them towards more awareness regarding their Misophonia, since I’m not a registered coach, counsellor, doctor or psychologist.
Still, I KNOW that I can guide you towards much more clarity around your Selective Sound Sensitivity. And I also am honest with you from the start. I am not going to be able to heal it for you. You will be able to do that yourself by taking steps that are appropriate for you. My e-course can support you, but I am mentioning treatments on this blog that I believe in. Just read on!
Misophonia caused by trauma
What causes Misophonia? I have read a whole lot of books on the topic of healing and followed various therapies, like Somatic Healing with Claudia Parr from Consulta Arta. She advised me to read the book from Pete Walker on Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After doing so, I felt very convinced that Misophonia could be the result of TRAUMA.
Firstly, some sort of neurological problems about which I know nothing, Secondly, trauma. _Pete Walker.
Thus, in order to find out more I contacted Pete Walker himself. He writes about Complex PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and this is his answer to my question on what he believes could be the cause of Misophonia:
“As I had to look up Misophonia to find out what it is, please mention my initial ignorance about the issue if you use it in your blog, as I am uninformed on the subject. This will not, however, stop me from conjecturing. I can imagine at least two causes. Firstly, some sort of neurological problems about which I know nothing, Secondly, trauma.
Many people with CPTSD have a startle response, instantaneous which is typically an instantaneous emotional flashback to some visual or auditory cue that reminds them of something traumatizing that happened to them in the past. it is not unusual for CPTSD survivors to startle at loud or dystonic sounds, and to feel very bothered by the experience”.
Of course, and luckily so, he suggests an exercise for those who suffer from Misophonia:
“If yours comes from that, when it happens again, I would consider reading the 13 Flashback Management (Complex PTSD) steps in Chapter 8. When you use Step 4 [contacting the inner child] ask her if that sound reminds her of anything that happened to her or hurt her in the past.
When I’ve done this with clients, I’ve often heard them say “Dad or Mom yelled so loud at me it hurt my ears…especially when I was smacked up against the side of my head…it scared me so much I wet my pants …or cried and they hit me for crying, etc.
Learning to go into comforting the child and yourself [especially through grieving] can sometimes gradually reduce the intensity of your disturbance by the noise…or not. Even if it does, like all emotional flashbacks, effective recovery work never completely eliminates such strong associations, but over time often reduces their frequency, duration and intensity. I hope there is something useful for you and those you guide in my brainstorming on this.”
I felt so relieved after receiving Pete Walker’s answer and it affirms what I came to understand about myself after having read about several conditions in various books. I have come to understand that the effects of traumatic events are kept in the body, until there’s a way to discharge them. It reminds me of another book that I once read about post-traumatic stress from Bessel van der Kolk: ‘The Body keeps the score: mind, brain and body in the transformation of trauma’.
The books on trauma healing from Dr. Peter A. Levine from the Trauma Institute Somatic Experiencing explain what trauma is, how it stays locked up in the body and how trauma can be discharged and healed.
What’s Somatic Experiencing? This is their explanation: “The Somatic Experiencing® method is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders.” (Traumahealing.org).
Window of Tolerance
It’s also the method that I tried with Claudia Parr from Consulta Arta and which has helped me reduce the symptoms majorly. I have noticed that when I am in a tense situation or conversation, I still get hypervigilant and quickly overwhelmed. Even so, who wouldn’t be, right? ‘My’ Misophonia isn’t gone, but it truly bothers me far less and I know that the sessions with Claudia Parr have contributed to this improvement. She helped me deal with an event that happened later in life, that for sure stressed an already overwhelmed system.
It reminds me of the term that I learned about: Window of Tolerance. It’s well explained on this blog : “Adverse experiences also shrink our window of tolerance meaning we have less capacity to ebb and flow and a greater tendency to become overwhelmed more quickly.”. Meaning that some of us are always experiencing life outside what the window of tolerance, meaning the nervous system is always either overcharged or undercharged, but never at ‘peace’.
However, I am convinced that with practice I will be able to calm my nervous system more and more, just like Claudia told me I will and with professional support I will be able to reduce the symptoms, like Misophonia.
I believe Misophonia is a symptom of a nervous system that got overwhelmed due to stressors in my environment_ Marianne de Kuyper.
Unbalanced Nervous System
Thus, I personally believe that Misophonia is a symptom of a nervous system that got overwhelmed due to stressors in my environment. This is also how Traumahealing.org explains it:
“In Somatic Experiencing®, the traumatic event isn’t what caused the trauma, it is the overwhelmed response to the perceived life threat that is causing an unbalanced nervous system. The aim is to help you access the body memory of the event, not the story. So, we don’t discuss what happened if you don’t want to.
And what I truly find wonderful about the method of Somatic Experiencing is that you don’t have to talk about the traumatic event in full detail with the danger of reliving it all. I am therefore an advocate of the approaches that Pete Walker and Peter Levine offer to the world: “The Somatic Experiencing® method works to release this stored energy, and turn off this threat alarm that causes severe dysregulation and dissociation.”
I can recommend reading about healing trauma, but sometimes this can be challenging too since stories are shared of what other people have experienced. Perhaps reading in that case will be stressful, so I strongly recommend finding an experienced professional therapist near you. Don’t do this alone and don’t even attempt to. Get the support that you need so that you too can live a contented and happy life in a world full of impulses and sounds.
Also, my e-course Sound Champion can support you in getting your Sound Story clear as I call it. It could complement your therapy sessions.
Long-lasting change starts with being aware of what needs to be changed and that’s where this trigger-free course comes into the story. And the good thing is, that you can take it online and take it at your own pace.
I don’t normally do reimbursements of the course fee, since the content is digital, but I will make an exception to this rule. In case you take the e-course ‘Sound Champion‘ in 2020 and you are truly not happy with its content, I will reimburse the full 100% or give you a coupon for another e-course that I have available for you on Superchangechampion.com.
Do you have any questions?
I’m here. Simply connect!
With love & care,
Marianne de Kuyper
P.S. Have I been able to guide you via my blogs, newsletters and/or e-courses? Is there something you wish to do in return? You can support me by allowing me to spend more time on writing e-courses. This way you also support others who could benefit from the exercises that I share. Therefore, a donation to support my work is always welcome. You can send it to me via PayPal_Me. A BIG thank you in advance!
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// I, Marianne (founder) am a Dutch girl going global. Even though (the team and) I reread everything multiple times, my apologies in case I’ve made a language mistake somewhere. Just email me about it. I’ll be happy to adjust it if I can and learn from it! //