Search icon


11th Aug 2018

The hatred of loud eating is actually a psychological condition

We're not surprised in the least.

James Dawson

Science has a name for it

It turns out that there is a name for being annoyed by someone loudly eating, tapping their fingers or breathing heavily. It has been diagnosed as a psychological condition called misophonia.

To find this out, researchers at Newcastle University scanned the brains of 42 people – 20 suffering from misophonia and 22 who did not have the condition.

The participants were placed in a MRI scanner and made to listen to unpleasant sounds. It was then found that the part of the brain that joins our senses with our emotions – the anterior insular – was overly active in those who suffered from misophonia when they heard the noises.

The findings were published in the journal Current Biology

“They are going into overdrive when they hear these sounds, but the activity was specific to the trigger sounds not the other two sounds,” Dr Sukhbinder Kumar from Newcastle University said.

“The reaction is anger mostly, it’s not disgust. The dominating emotion is the anger – it looks like a normal response, but then it is going into overdrive.”

Olana Tansley-Hancock has struggled with sounds like breathing and eating since she was just eight.

“I feel there’s a threat and get the urge to lash out – it’s the fight or flight response,” she told the BBC.

“Anyone eating crisps is always going to set me off, the rustle of the packet is enough to start a reaction.

“It’s not a general annoyance, it’s an immediate ‘Oh my God, what is that sound?’ I need to get away from it or stop it’.”