Michael O. - Facing triggers to build resistance in New Zealand.

S5 E5 - 10/27/2021
In this episode, Adeel introduces Michael from New Zealand, who discusses his approach to misophonia, emphasizing not immediately fleeing from triggers but attempting to face them as much as possible to build resistance. Michael shares his personal history with misophonia, tracing it back to childhood incidents and his developing sensitivity to specific sounds over time. He discusses coping strategies like using specialized headphones to handle noise while sleeping and working, but also mentions his efforts at self-exposure to triggers in a controlled manner to desensitize himself. Additionally, Michael reflects on the broader social and mental challenges of living with misophonia, including navigating social situations and the importance of mental health awareness in his home country.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia Podcast. This is Season 5, Episode 5. My name's Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. This week I have probably my furthest ever guest. Michael is down in New Zealand, where he lives in a place where they think about seven other people. This one's really interesting because though Michael definitely deals with misophonia regularly with all the usual tools he's also trying to consciously not run away immediately from the trigger. Kind of trying to face it head on as much as possible to maybe build some resistance. It reminds me of the debate that goes on around exposure therapy and we hear Michael's take on that. I want to make a pretty big announcement and that is that I now have a Patreon account This will always be a 100% free podcast, of course, but if you would like to support the show and get lots of freebies from me, please check it out at patreon.com slash misophonia podcast. Link in the show notes. You can support at whatever level you want, down to $3 a month. And for all levels, I'll give you a shout out on the show. And higher levels, you'll get cool stuff like t-shirts, mugs, even some one-on-one off-the-record chats with me to see if I can be of any help. You can find out more at patreon.com slash misophonia podcast. Now, as I wrote in the description on the Patreon, this isn't just for me to pay for hosting or try to get compensated for the podcast. It doesn't cost that much money to host this podcast. And doing it, I have no problems volunteering. What I want to do, though, is get transcripts, accurate transcripts of the podcast so that more people who maybe don't want to hear voices can connect with the podcast by reading the transcripts. Also, researchers can then use the podcast through the transcripts to maybe include in their own work. And also just having the text online makes it easier for Google to make it searchable. And so more people can come to the podcast that way. You know, folks who might be Googling about misophonia for the first time and are looking for stories to listen to. So that's what kind of drove me to finally get this Patreon going so that I can pay for accurate human-reviewed transcripts. And also, of course, I wouldn't mind covering the hosting and sending gifts out to listeners. A few amazing listeners have volunteered and transcribed some episodes, but I can't possibly expect people to do that for over 100 episodes now. All right. Now here's my conversation with Michael. Welcome, Michael. Welcome to the podcast. Happy to be here. Excellent. So you've got a little bit of an accent. Curious, kind of, you want to let us know where you're located?

Michael [2:54]: New Zealand. Auckland, yeah.

Adeel [2:57]: Yeah, yeah. I haven't had anybody from New Zealand. Maybe Australia, but definitely not New Zealand. Cool. And what do you do down there?

Michael [3:06]: I'm a BI analyst, which basically means I work with a lot of data.

Adeel [3:10]: Yep, yep.

Michael [3:11]: Play a lot of sports, play a lot of chess.

Adeel [3:14]: yeah yeah that keeps me keeps me entertained yeah excellent okay cool and uh and and are you yeah what is new zealand in uh i don't want to stereotype them are they in lockdown right now still or yeah yes with the uh yeah tell me about yeah what's the situation now pandemic wise

Michael [3:35]: Well, we're in our second major lockdown, our third lockdown overall. The Delta variant has arrived in our shores, probably arrived about five weeks ago, and since then we've been in heavy restrictions, and our case numbers relative to most of the world are still very low, but we're very conservative over here. We've got 11 cases today, which is the lowest we've had in a while, so we're still hoping to eliminate it for now, get vaccinated, and And then in the future, I guess we'll learn to live with it, I suppose. That's the plan.

Adeel [4:13]: Yeah, yeah. And so how have these lockdowns been for you in terms of your living situation, work?

Michael [4:22]: Yeah, it's okay. Most of my work is, well, all of my work is online. I can work from home just as well as I can in the office. getting a little bit bored um but i think i'm pretty lucky to be able to continue largely as normal right right are you living with anyone at home like are you being yeah i i i live with seven people so there's well six others so there's plenty of plenty of opportunities for uh some triggers going on yeah yeah okay okay and those are all family or housemates or baggy box and uh hitchhikers I live with my girlfriend of three years and a bunch of friends.

Adeel [5:04]: Okay, cool. Cool. Okay. Okay. So yeah, all adults. So do they know about your misophonia? It's not like, you know, they're kids where you have to like constantly remind them. These should be adults. And I'm curious what the different reactions are.

Michael [5:18]: I mean, my partner certainly knows about it. She's studying clinical psychology. So she has quite an interest in that. The rest of my housemates, I would say, know about the symptoms. They know that I don't like certain things, but probably are unaware that it is somewhat of an official condition. Yeah, okay. I haven't illuminated them too much.

Adeel [5:44]: You haven't eliminated your housemates too much, or you haven't... Illuminated. Oh, illuminated. Yeah.

Michael [5:55]: Not at that point yet.

Adeel [5:57]: Yeah, not at that point yet. Gotcha. Okay. Okay. So, okay. Interesting. Okay. So, but you've been learning to manage. So, well, yeah, I mean, I guess, I don't know if I've had anyone who lived with so many people. Let's maybe start talking about some of the coping mechanisms you do for living in a place with quite a few other adults.

Michael [6:20]: um i'm lucky enough to have my own private space a big room where i can kind of go away if it all gets too much um but no it's it's definitely has its challenges but i think it's a good opportunity as well to like try to learn actual coping mechanisms rather than just running away from it um there are some there are some loud eaters there are some quiet eaters there are some in between There are some subconscious whistlers. There are a few things there, but I think overall it's actually been quite helpful for me.

Adeel [7:03]: Gotcha. Okay. You mean the lockdown or just being with a bunch of people and being able to learn to cope?

Michael [7:11]: Exactly.

Adeel [7:13]: Yeah, that's interesting. Yeah, I guess it's kind of, I don't want to call it exposure therapy, but at least having that private room gives you, at least tells your mind that you can escape somewhere. And when you want to come out, you're kind of consciously coming out and can kind of maybe tell your brain to, you know, maybe expect some triggers, but then try to deal with it.

Michael [7:38]: Yeah, that's exactly right. And I... think exposure therapy is probably a good term for that really i mean it's um and to me exposure therapy might just about be the most useful um most useful strategy that one can have i mean we all have our strategies to block it out and and always canceling headphones and and all these sorts of things but ultimately like to treat the problem it seems intuitive to me that exposure therapy would be a good place to start

Adeel [8:09]: Yeah, batteries are going to run out of your noise-canceling headphones at some point, so get ready for it.

Michael [8:14]: Yeah, and you can't really take them to a restaurant. It looks a bit rude.

Adeel [8:18]: Right, right. Yeah. I mean, I think most people, well, yeah, many people probably don't care at that point. They just carry them anyway. But you're right. It's not the most socially pleasing thing. No. Especially when you're going with other people. Okay, cool. Yeah, interesting. And I guess, let's go back then to kind of early days for you. You grew up in New Zealand. Yeah. Yeah. How was it growing up? Was it a typical kind of family situations around late elementary school?

Michael [8:55]: I really remember quite specifically an instance where I was eating at McDonald's. This would have been 96 or 95. So I would have been five or six years old. And I was eating a hamburger. And I hadn't progressed to cheeseburgers by that point. And my mom said, stop eating with your mouth open. And I was just like, what? I mean, how am I meant to do that? I mean, I've barely got to grasp with eating. And now I have to eat it with my mouth closed. And so I was a bit mystified as to how to do this. So I practiced eating with my mouth closed from there. And within, I don't know, a week or so, I felt like what I now saw as an art. And then I remember at some future point, observing children in the playground at lunchtime and seeing if they could eat with their mouth closed and just sort of like almost judging, but I don't remember any kind of emotional association. It was more just observing whether or not other kids could do this because i guess i felt somewhat proud of the fact that i could do it um and yeah i don't remember at that point i don't remember being triggered by these noises um i still didn't really understand why it was better to eat with your mouth closed uh but i just remember that it was something that i wanted to be able to do probably to make my parents proud i guess yeah were they repeatedly telling you that or was it ah i mean i i so it's yeah i mean obviously the memory fails that long ago but I only remember one specific point is really what I remember and I remember some subsequent times but that was in later years when everything was already fully quite well developed and so yeah it started with just this sort of observation and then I would think by about middle school sort of 12th, 11th, 12th, 13th that's when I started to see it as more of a requirement of human behavior. And so when someone would do it, then it began to annoy me. And then the sound really began to bother me. So, yeah, the actual typical uncomfortable misophonic symptoms didn't start until I was about 12 or 13. And then it just grew from there. And this is all related to the eating?

Adeel [11:39]: i mean it could be maybe i'm yeah post rationalizing here but i you know you you wonder what what i mean yeah yeah i mean that's as far as most you can get so that's why um yeah i mean yeah you're you're thinking about it very very similar to most other people i'm sure it's just interesting to think about that if that the the mcdonald's incident kind of led maybe down this path or triggered or activated something inside you we don't know what's what's going on per se but uh um it's it's interesting that yeah like you said you noticed uh in other students the thing that you were you kind of trained yourself to not do based on that mcdonald's incident and maybe some other ones but uh that's right And then did your, so did it affect your school in any way, like socially or academically?

Michael [12:35]: Well, certainly it did. I even remember another point I would have been in years, I would have been 12. I remember trying to write a story, some creative story, I guess, and a kid behind me kept sniffing. And this was, I guess, was my second trigger behind noisy eating was sniffing. um and i just even remember getting so angry about it that i had to write it into my story and my teacher read that and then the next day or something my teacher actually brought it up with the whole class and was like this person's been complaining and i think they're really right i think the thing's really rude and people should you know try try to keep that to a minimum so i felt quite vindicated at this point as well i was like oh yeah see i've got it right um and so that's and then so obviously from there it just got worse and by late high school it was if i had to go into an exam um and a university any exams i would i would monitor where i was being set and looking for potential people that had colds or you know running you probably had a list to run a list in your head of people yeah most likely yeah that's right there does seem to be a trend there um and yeah if if it was a if i was like oh man this person's clearly clearly ill i would just ask to change seats but it was yeah it was difficult in come exam times feeling that your entire grade could be significantly impacted based on something completely outside of your control.

Adeel [14:13]: A domino effect, right? That's a domino effect, too. Was that as far as the accommodations you tried to get? Just try to move seats? Some people try to take the exam at a later time or date or whatever, but...

Michael [14:29]: That's all I tried to do. Yeah, I guess I wasn't even aware.

Adeel [14:34]: That's probably honestly more than most. Right, right, right. So, okay. Well, it's interesting. I was getting kind of worried when you were telling me that story of the teacher bringing it up in class because it could have gone in different ways. The teacher could have ridiculed maybe or maybe students would have heard it and then tried to pick on you. Exactly. It seemed to not have gone those ways.

Michael [15:02]: No, no, but it potentially did reinforce my beliefs.

Adeel [15:07]: Were you scared at first? Like what was going to happen?

Michael [15:10]: I don't remember being scared. I think it was interesting that it was mentioned.

Adeel [15:16]: Yeah. So, I mean, when you're doing exams, like you said, you were very careful. Did it affect who you were hanging out with generally growing up?

Michael [15:27]: No, I don't believe so. I mean, I would say that I've not typically had a large friend group. I've been pretty much to myself for a decent amount of time, but I don't remember being like, oh, I do like this person, but they have this terrible habit, therefore I can't hang out with them. I don't think it's impacted my relationships to that extent.

Adeel [15:56]: right right yeah for hanging if you're living with a whole bunch of people i i'm assuming that uh that didn't suffer too much but uh but it's interesting yeah we we but you know we we say it doesn't affect but we do end up a lot many of us being a little bit more introverted so um seems to be a common theme by uh introversion did you were you noticing um like uh visual triggers too growing up or did that come later

Michael [16:24]: uh later if they were if the visual triggers were in some way linked to the sound triggers then they would become triggers for example if i i saw somebody um tapping their foot or something like that um the sound is what would irritate me but then i i guess i started to associate the movement yeah um with the sound and so then that became a visual trigger there are a couple more people sort of biting their lips or clicking pens and things like that. So yeah, it does, it has sort of seeped over into the, into some visual triggers as well, but man, it's, you don't want to go too much further. It's, it can really run rampant.

Adeel [17:10]: I know. Did you, did you, what was your, did you ever tell your parents? Like, did you ever tell anybody growing up? I know, I know you didn't know what it was, it was phony, but.

Michael [17:21]: Yeah, I mean, again, I guess I would tell almost everybody that was somewhat close to me. But I think without that sort of label, it just reduces to symptoms and, you know, just sort of personal, I guess. niches and people are like, oh, well, that's interesting. It's actually a little bit funny. Maybe I'll even test it out by trying to eat it out right now. Because I'm so hilarious. But I can't really expect anything more. It's not something that's well documented anywhere.

Adeel [18:05]: And did your parents have a similar situation? They were just like, yeah, it's just Michael's thing.

Michael [18:13]: Well, yeah, a lot of it they would agree with me. And then... but but when when it got beyond what they could really sympathize with it would just sort of turn into like oh we'll just block it out just ignore it yeah um did your mom maybe ever have it because she was that one who you know from that's closed i'm wondering if it was more of a manners like a straight up manners thing or was it a sound thing she was reacting to i don't like i don't think that you know even people without misophonia i think If you ask most people, they say, yeah, the sound of eating is kind of gross. It's not really unusual to find that sound gross. What's unusual is the emotional baggage that people with misophonia carry. Exactly. It's judging other people for the noises that they are making and seeing it as some kind of violation. So I don't think either my parents have it, but they would agree that loud eating is just poor form.

Adeel [19:19]: What about relationships? Did it affect relationships or did it take being with a clinical psychologist to finally be able to make a connection? I guess it... Or you don't have to go. I just always bring that up because it affects people.

Michael [19:37]: Yeah. No, it affects, I think, probably every relationship to a degree. It's hard to get around. Everybody makes noises. But I don't think it's ever been a massive hurdle in that sense for me. It's just something that I have to work on myself. I don't... I really try to be careful about blaming others and I really try to keep it as my problem.

Adeel [20:03]: And did you do like those strategies trying to keep it as your problem? Are those things you kind of just thought on your own? Have you ever pursued like a therapist to kind of like help you work on that stuff or curious how you thought how you came to those?

Michael [20:26]: I think it's I've never had any therapy for it. I think it's just through experience of noticing what helps and what doesn't. And I even think when I learned that misophonia was a thing, I don't know if that helped me. I think it potentially was like, oh, see, there's actually nothing I can do about this. This is a problem that's been cast upon me. And so it lends itself to more of like a victim thing, which I think I'm a little bit worried about going forward with Misophonia becoming more of a label that's thrown around. I think there's tremendous benefits that come with that. I mean, it enables research and understanding, but the risk it carries is that you can shift that responsibility away from yourself and something that you can actually manage um and i think i just noticed the more i the more i labeled myself with misophonia that the worse it would get um and and so yeah it's it's just i guess through that through those experiences i've tried to at least just make it my problem

Adeel [21:53]: That's a really interesting point. There's this kind of unknown fine line that we're still not sure about. Yeah, you're right. More awareness is good, but are we now, anytime we get triggered, are we just like, okay, that's my chronic misophonia kind of thing. I can't do anything about it versus would we have maybe put in a little bit more effort to try to deal with the situation? Maybe not overcome it completely, but at least get a little bit further. That's an interesting point.

Michael [22:22]: Yeah, exactly. It's very tempting to believe that if Arnit was better understood, then my problems would go away. But they won't. It's still going to be awful, even if everybody knows what it is.

Adeel [22:38]: When did you find out that it had a name and how?

Michael [22:43]: I think that I was researching Asperger's, which is actually not a... Asperger's as they pronounce it in the United States at least. Yeah, I'm not sure what the official pronunciation is there, but I'll stick with Asperger's. Yeah, go for it. Yeah, I was researching that and it's something that some psychologists had hinted at me that I had. And I started to sort of see one of the symptoms was sort of sensitive to auditory stimulus i was like oh well that that's me um and from there i found out about misophonia and i was like oh man look all my problems are solved huh but uh yeah it gives you a temporary relief for feeling understood i think um but ultimately yeah

Adeel [23:40]: button and we're like googling all night and then we wake up and we're like okay i still don't know what to do about this um well you're at an interesting age because i've had a a more than one person recently even talked to where they noticed it growing up and then there was like a 10 year period like from about 18 on into their 20s where it didn't really bother them and then it suddenly exploded like in their late 20s onwards it sounds like doing the math quickly that you're probably around 30 so I'm wondering if have you noticed was it a steady thing for you? Did it ever dip as you got some freedom after college and then come back? I'm just curious how that arc went.

Michael [24:31]: Nope. I would say it's been steadily on the incline, but has tailed off. I don't think it's got much worse over the last four or five years.

Adeel [24:42]: So you're in a misophonic plateau right now.

Michael [24:45]: Yeah, it's a good place. Not too many new triggers have come up. It seems to be... under control but not really getting better i still do hope that with um continued exposure therapy i'm going to call it um i can start to sort of try to disassociate uh with between these sounds and and the disdain that i feel for whoever is making that sound yeah yeah it's going to be a challenge right and that's just how does the disdain manifest itself like would you

Adeel [25:22]: What do you do? Do you have to leave the situation? Do you give the death glare? Do you ever bring it up? Like, hey, you know, get the voice of your mom in your head and just tell them to eat with their mouth closed.

Michael [25:35]: Yeah, I think I've already brought it up. I think I've initially had an outburst once, which was at a library at university. I think just given the fact it was a library, I somehow felt that I was entitled to... to really have a go at this person for eating an apple um but other than that it's it's just internal suffering really i i don't remember i mean sometimes with my with my girlfriend i might sort of say oh man you're you're yawning a lot today or um yeah just just an underrated trigger yeah yeah i think that just sort of thinks that It seeps out, I guess, in my language a bit, but I don't think that I have had any outbursts other than that one. But yeah, it's typically just go away. If I really feel it overwhelming, I'll go away. And that takes a while itself, you know, because you go away and you're away from all the triggers, but they're still playing in your mind. You can still kind of hear them.

Adeel [26:39]: Right. There's that recovery period, which people have found different ways to come back from, you know, from... medication down to, I don't know, meditation or just listening to something else and coming back. Do you just kind of go away? What do you tell yourself? Do you just kind of wait, give yourself some time?

Michael [27:01]: I try to. I guess when I go away, I either go and put some headphones on and get some different noises into me, which is probably the treatment I'm not the most proud of. on a good day, I would go away and try to actually listen to the sounds that I was hearing. Because I think when you are in a room, for example, full of people that are eating badly or flipping their tea, there seem to be two main options. It's either you leave or you try to ignore the sounds. and i think both of them really just play into the avoidance strategy um and for me what has been the most effective is to try to listen to the sounds yeah but try not to judge people for them try to kind of welcome those sounds almost take more of like a mindful approach to them um it's not realistic to be able to block them out, I don't think.

Adeel [28:07]: Right. Yeah, that's an interesting point. I think a lot of us naively think that, hey, we'll just block it out. Here comes that sound again, let's just block it out. But it's right. You're not really conditioning yourself any better. Yeah, that's interesting that you're kind of, it seems like you're cautiously trying to welcome the sounds. With the hope that maybe that you can just become used to it? Is that kind of what you're going for or just kind of deal with it?

Michael [28:37]: To me, it's about like, because I don't believe that misophony is something you're born with. Maybe research in future years will prove me totally wrong on that. I do think it's something that is forged through these associations. As I said before, most people find some sounds uncomfortable and most of them tend to be like eating tends to be an annoying sound for most people but they don't make that association between that sound and disdain for the person making it and judgment and all these sort of violation um and somehow i guess for someone with misophonia i think that they repeat this this these thought processes of hair sound attribute that sound to somebody judge that person for making that sound and from there if you do that for long enough i think that just become almost become automatic to the point where any sound you hear you start to feel that hatred um and i guess my goal of trying to listen to the sound and welcome it is

Adeel [29:45]: to break those bonds yeah yeah yeah it's interesting i mean you're asking before like what are some patterns that i've heard uh i mean we'll get some of the research um that's in its early phases but yeah i mean some kind of early quote unquote trauma i mean trauma is kind of a loaded word uh well it's it's i don't know i don't know if loaded is an offensive thing to say but like it's it's it's it sounds strong but even things like uh you know a parent um telling you to act a certain way kind of surprising you that could be something that begins an association that maybe gets reinforced like you were saying like over and over and then um your brain starts to make some irrational associations that's something that it comes up a lot is like, uh, there was, there was no problems until something happens with death in the family. Uh, very angry parent, um, parent making a loud sound, maybe not out of anger, but like clapping their hands really quickly, rubbing their hands together. Um, so, um, that's, you know, quite a varied, uh, but there's some kind of overlap between these experiences that, uh, I've heard a lot over and over. Um, Not everybody, but or walking on eggshells when, you know, a baby is born kind of thing. So it is there's like, yeah, there's there's some there's an interesting kind of pattern that that that thread, I would say that kind of is across a lot of these experiences.

Michael [31:18]: Yes, it seems to be a memory and then it gets built upon it. It just it can it can spiral. I hope to never get to the siblings one. Yeah. Yeah. OK, OK. Who, from memory, she has a real aversion towards loud eating as well, but it just doesn't seem to have ever got beyond that.

Adeel [31:42]: She's not going to go on a Misophonia podcast and talk about it or anything. No. It's just a slight aversion, but yeah, maybe not Misophonia. Right. Interesting.

Michael [31:52]: Yeah. So how would you explain Misophonia to someone that doesn't have it? Have you tried to do that before?

Adeel [32:01]: I mean, I guess, yeah, you think that I'd have like my elevator pitch down. Somebody asked me on a recent episode too, but I call it, I mean, I call it, uh, disorder where I have an irrational sensitivity to certain sounds, usually things like eating, chewing, sniffling, so all your mouth, nose, throat kind of sounds. And then I try to, as quickly as I can, point out that this is not like a most people find annoying this is like a fight or flight sensation where I cannot think about anything else. I have to either leave or I want to either leave or, you know, burst out in some kind of like you did at the library. Um, so that's kind of, and then, then I got to pause and see what the person's going to do that, you know, see what they think. Cause at that point it's like, um, you know, it's pretty obvious if they're going to give a crap or not and, uh, just kind of go from there. But I usually don't ever, honestly, but it's usually theoretical because I usually just take the flight situation. I mean, especially in the last year and a half when, you know, we've been socially distanced for so long. It's like I haven't really needed, haven't really been around people outside of the house for too long. So I'll have to readjust off my notes when I'm fully immersed in society.

Michael [33:37]: I would explain it in a similar way. Actually, it's very much a, it's, it's, it's an instinct rather than a thought process. It's not like just, Oh, that sounds really annoying. It is something that hits you before you can even think about it. Yeah. Um, I, I think I've likened it to being cut off in traffic. Um, and you know, so you see the road rage that people get all around the world and people, people, say things and do things that they would never do in regular life. But when they're in their car, it's like their entire character changes. And someone cutting off in traffic can incite that sort of rage, even though you know that this person made a mistake. More often than not, they just made a mistake. You can't help but feel that instinctive feeling that in some way they've wronged you. And that...

Adeel [34:34]: to me is the closest thing that i can describe to someone that doesn't have misophonia yeah that's a really interesting analogy because when you first heard that i was like oh it's not like that wait a minute but yeah we have this kind of common thing where people are very um judgmental when they're in the car um yeah because they they think that uh maybe it's because they see the other person

Michael [35:01]: in the same metal box that they're they kind of box at their end so they think everyone's kind of tuned out when we're all yeah uh just look like we're tuned out that's really interesting yeah it's yeah i think it's like if somebody cuts you off in traffic it it feels like there's some sort of violation of your safety and then that person has endangered you and which gives you that flight or fight or flight response obviously

Adeel [35:26]: and i think misophonia it's it's like some sort of violation of your auditory sense and it gives you that same kind of like trigger just like this is this is wrong maybe it's part of maybe it's no i'm starting you know get into mr uh speculation but maybe it's uh it's part of you know humans are we're just faster than maybe we were able to adapt to. And maybe it's part of where our evolution is maybe not caught up to this. Certainly cars are technology that we just haven't adapted to. I know most people have not adapted to social media, so that's a whole other thing too. So between these three, yeah, that's an interesting idea that that maybe we just haven't been able to evolve fast enough to the reality of our modern life. And that sounds like a cliche, but in this case, there's that thread across the road rage and the misophonia that maybe we haven't really fully explored.

Michael [36:31]: Yeah, I think that's definitely plausible. There's a couple of things to me.

Adeel [36:36]: No, that's it. I've solved it. I'm going to hang up.

Michael [36:39]: Yeah, you're done. There are a couple of things that was phony, which to me suggests it's more of a social problem and a conditioning problem rather than something that you're just born with. For example, one of those things is that it tends to develop in early adolescence, which tends to be around the age that you develop expectations of others outside of yourself um also it's very suspicious to me that almost all initial triggers are human sounds and the sound of a dog eating is i think from any objective stance is more discussed in the sound of a human eating i mean they're way louder But it doesn't annoy me, and it doesn't annoy most people with misophonia. So what can that possibly mean? To me, it has to be that there is some sort of expectation and standards around it. So that can only really be forged through social conditioning.

Adeel [37:50]: Yeah, yeah, that's interesting. Yeah, when I've thought about the whole nature versus nurture, I've kind of thought that maybe there's something about your nature that makes you more susceptible, but then something that happens that activates it. You know, if you put a gun to my head or a trigger to my head, I'd be like, it's probably, yeah, I'd lean more towards social conditioning. Though a lot of the research has been so focused on the neurological stuff. I'm hoping that there's a wider, maybe different disciplines that'll start to look at this more and come to that consensus.

Michael [38:28]: It'll be interesting to see those neurological studies replicated throughout the span of one's life. Because yes, you might see differences in certain regions of the brain, but that can happen through social exposure. It's not just necessarily the nature that you were born with.

Adeel [38:49]: Yeah, the current research might just be looking at our severely damaged 30-year-old, 40-year-old brains. Yeah, the effects rather than the cause.

Michael [38:59]: Right, right. But I think you're undoubtedly right. It's invariably like all of these nature versus nature things, some sort of interplay between the two.

Adeel [39:08]: yeah because i mean well if you get first principle of nature is nurture and vice versa it's we're all just we're all organisms and uh um playing against each other um interesting okay maybe the switch gears i did want to uh hear maybe more mundane stuff, but like when you come out of lockdown, are you going back to an office or are you kind of staying from home?

Michael [39:37]: Going back to an office, pretty flexible. We can do some days from home, some days in the office, probably two, three days a week in the office, the rest from home. But I'll bring my noise-canceling headphones and I tend to play airplane noises while I work.

Adeel [39:57]: Okay, okay.

Michael [39:59]: Boeing 747, I believe. They're old and loud.

Adeel [40:03]: Oh, yeah. Well, it's interesting. Yeah, I didn't think of it right. What's the best airplane? I was a big Star Trek The Next Generation fan. In a recent interview, somebody told me that you can hear the Starship Enterprise engines on repeat for like 10 hours on YouTube. Oh, nice. Yeah. I was like, oh, man, I used to watch that show all the time. It's actually therapeutic on a couple of different levels. That's kind of my new go-to. And at work, you haven't told anybody, have you? No, no.

Michael [40:42]: Yeah, I guess I am lucky enough to have a role that is pretty much just me in my corner. So it doesn't affect anything too much. I suspect that people might find it a bit rude, but nobody's ever said anything to me about it. If they did, then I would tell them. yeah have you met anybody else who who has it or is this all from your own personal experience and what you've read online i think you're the first person i've spoken to that that clearly has it um yeah it's just some other people that show some symptoms of it but there seems to be some line um where it becomes quite clear Whether one has it or not.

Adeel [41:25]: Yeah, isn't it? Right, yeah. Because, yeah, it's interesting. I don't know if it's the tone. Sometimes it's obvious in what they say, but sometimes it's just the tone of how people say it. You can kind of tell that theirs is more like an off-and-on annoyance versus, you know, I think, yeah, it's more often than not like your eyes would just go wide open. and you can see their life flash or re-flash in front of your eyes.

Michael [41:56]: I totally get that too. It's really annoying when somebody runs their nails down a chalkboard. It's like, no, no.

Adeel [42:01]: Yeah, right, right. One of those cliches. Yeah. So, yeah. Interesting. Okay, okay. Um, and yeah, are you, um, I guess going forward, so your, your plan, yeah, I'm just curious about kind of your plan. You just, you know, I guess you're pretty young, around 30, like your plan going forward is just kind of like keep trying to, um, uh, avoid when you need to, but experience, try to experience and, and cope, um, when, when you can. That's kind of your, your go-to. Yeah.

Michael [42:36]: Yeah. I think, um, it's unrealistic just to be like oh well i'm just going to you know suffer and and put myself through constant exposure in the hope of getting better and you have to i think find some sort of balance i mean i will sleep with headphones probably for the rest of my life um is that because your is your girlfriend snore or i'm curious no no pretty quiet sleeper but you know everybody heavy breeze when they sleep um it's just no one is a perfectly quiet sleeper um and i'll just put on well i have these uh sort of they're called uh acoustic sheeps they're like uh bands. It's like woolen bands that you put around your head. It's quite warming. There's something comforting about it as well. So that's been pretty good.

Adeel [43:32]: And are they Bluetooth or do they play one thing?

Michael [43:35]: They're Bluetooth. You just hook it up to your phone. They're not perfect. If you have a chronic snorer that you're sleeping next to, I would not recommend them. You need something that actually goes into your ears as well. You need your own bedroom. Yeah, that's it. If you're lucky enough. But yeah, so I guess I probably resigned to the fact that I always stick with headphones. uh maybe the best i could hope for is not having to work with headphones but at the moment in my life i've i i will work with headphones i'll sleep with headphones other than that i will try to expose myself um as much as i can can can take on a given day um right yeah so that's sort of the rules i have for myself

Adeel [44:22]: And I wanted to ask, I don't think I've spoken to anyone from New Zealand. Like, what is the, like, how would you, or would you describe the, I don't know, the misophonia? Well, I guess you don't know anyone else who has it, but I'm just curious, like, you know, if a misophonist was going to go to New Zealand, is it generally a pretty... understand like quiet place on that level but also like in terms of mental health in general is it pretty open accepting um i'm just curious what new zealand's like from his folks um hard to compare and i've i've only lived in new zealand and australia um yeah so yeah it's tough for me to say what would say an american would would experience um

Michael [45:10]: I mean, it's a pretty quiet place. The population density is very low. Yeah, people tend to speak fairly quietly. I will notice if there is, it's no offense meant here, but I'll notice if there is an American or a Canadian in the room because they tend to speak a lot louder than New Zealanders do. So that bodes well for me.

Adeel [45:35]: I'm actually both American and Canadian, so I'm probably extra loud. Oh, brutal combo.

Michael [45:42]: Another common thing with your guests seems to be my soft voice.

Adeel [45:46]: Yeah.

Michael [45:48]: I turn the volume down when I mix, so make sure you're there. In terms of openness, I think we do pretty well on that front.

Adeel [45:58]: I rarely feel that my... Yeah, definitely. Healthcare is definitely top of mind, it seems, if you're going to lockdown immediately. Yeah.

Michael [46:11]: Yeah, pretty good with that kind of stuff, I think. It's obviously a lot easier when you have a fairly homogenous culture and only under 5 million population. Yeah, and then a bunch of mountains. Yeah, getting people on the same page isn't as hard.

Adeel [46:27]: Yeah, yeah. Cool. Well, I mean, yeah, we're getting close to an hour, 15 minutes in. Anything else you want to share with the... We've had a lot of good insights. Anything else you want to share with folks who are listening in?

Michael [46:48]: For me, I believe that if you Google misophonia, the definition will come up with a literal hatred of sounds. And I'm not so sure that that's the case. I think that sounds... can be triggers and they can be annoying. But I think that's normal for most of the population. I think misophonia just carries something more and that's judgment of who or what is making that sound. And I think that's what makes it really hard to listen to. It's not the sounds that are annoying you. It's the hatred that you feel when you hear those sounds. And to try to separate those two things is worthwhile, I think. And I will continue to try my best to do that.

Adeel [47:30]: Yeah, you're right. The hatred of sound is the dumb reduction of simplification, even though misappointed literally, I think, means that. But yeah, it's not quite that. In fact, one of the lead researchers at Kumara's group wants to look at, she's convinced that there are also sounds that might give us the opposite sensation. And she wants to try to, I believe, well, we were kind of riffing on the podcast, like, can we, you know, generate... your headphones or earbuds that i know you won't like this because it's masking stuff but um you know earbuds they kind of you know in real time replace a trigger with something that you like and maybe you know in some ways cancel things out i don't know we're just speculating on stuff but uh just yeah hatred of sound is an oversimplification yeah i know what i was trying to say um i agree with you there we're more complicated than that i think so

Michael [48:29]: But also not all that unique. You know, it's not like the phones are the only ones that have aversions to sounds. I mean, just pretty much everybody does, and that's normal. You have to try to pick apart what isn't normal and try to work on that.

Adeel [48:47]: Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. Well, yeah, Michael, thanks for coming on. And yeah, there's actually a lot of food for thought here. So yeah, good things to think about. Hopefully people enjoy that and love to hear more and more what people think. But yeah, thanks again for coming on. That's been great. Thank you very much. Thank you, Michael. Really interesting stuff there. I'm curious to hear what people think about it. facing triggers and trying to build up some resistance. If you liked this episode, don't forget to leave a quick review or just hit the five stars wherever you listen to this podcast. You can hit me up by email at hello at misappointingpodcast.com or go to the website, It's actually even easier if you follow us on Instagram at Misophonia Podcast or Facebook. And on Twitter, it's Misophonia Show. Don't forget you can now support the show by visiting the Patreon at patreon.com slash misophonia podcast. Music as always is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.

Unknown Speaker [50:18]: Thank you.