There’s No doubt all of us to have had an overwhelming desire to reach across the table and slap some slack-jawed diner around the chops at some stage in our lives… honestly gran, how hard is it to keep your mouth closed while you chomp on those potatoes?
But for one man in the US, his aversion to chewing sounds has done way more than just ruin a meal or two.
Derrol Murphy, from San Diego, suffers from misophonia, a rare mental disorder which causes certain noises to trigger heightened emotional responses such as rage and panic.
The 41-year-old – who is a graphic design company production manager – has lived with the condition for as long as he can remember but spent the majority of his life thinking he was just ‘crazy’.
His condition is so extreme that he has been unable to see relatives because of their throat clearing, unable to dine with noisy eaters and unable to work alongside pen clickers.
Mr Murphy said: “I thought I was crazy for many years. Little noises would make me just fly into a rage.
“People don’t understand it and I can’t explain it. It’s affected relationships, especially people I’ve been dating and family members, because you take it out on the people closest to you because you think they should understand.
“I’m not an aggressive person, noises just anger me. I’ve had to walk out on dates if they are chewing really loudly, my face gives it away – I pull a look of disgust I can’t hide.”
He continued: “Chewing is a big one and specific voices. I hear everything all the time.
“One noise can stick out and if I’m in a restaurant, I hear one person’s voice and then I hear the cutlery, it makes me go crazy.
“The rustling of plastic bags drives me absolutely crazy, and I haven’t been to the movies for more than 10 years because people opening food bags is a very bad trigger.
“It’s definitely made dating interesting, and I haven’t been able to speak to relatives for years as the throat clearing would make situations tense.”
His condition caused the breakdown of his previous relationship and Mr Murphy thought when he met Kurt at work they would have no chance, given he his quite a noisy eater. However, the pair have developed a warning signal and are going strong as a couple.
Mr Murphy said: “When Kurt chews, his jaw clicks and when we first started dating, he was eating with his mouth open on the first date. I thought there was no way it was going to work, and had to tell him pretty quickly.
“Kurt will shout to cover my ears then I can brace myself.
“Misophonia contributed to the breakdown of my relationship with my ex, so it’s huge that Kurt is so understanding. Most people say they understand but he just has to look at my face to know when a noise is getting to me.”
Mr Murphy was only able to put a name to his condition when he was 30, and while he still has to wear headphones for three hours a day, he is now speaking out to help raise awareness and help others.
He said: “Hopefully, people will get a bigger understanding of it and realise that just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
“It’s actually real and people need to be patient with people who have to deal with it. It’s hard enough for us to figure out what’s going on.”
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