The Risk of Generalization

Before I start, what I’m going to say is my personal opinion. If you disagree and/or have another point of view, you may post and discuss in the comments.

I have suffered from misophonia for a long time (about 11 years). It was during the start of my college years that I started getting more interested in the research that was available.

A few years ago, I believed I knew a great deal about misophonia. I even gave a speech about it in one of my classes and was able to answer a lot of questions. But now, at 21 years old, I realize that I only knew a small fraction of misophonia.

I’m not claiming to know more about it now, but I am saying that I’ve learned a lot, and I’m still learning. I’m careful and skeptical about the things I read about misophonia now more than ever. For instance, I’ve read a lot of articles written by different people, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that a common theme is present: Thoughts of violence.

I have analyzed this theme and decided to question the way it has been talked about in the various articles I come across. People who suffer with misophonia tend to have unintentional thoughts of violence they want to inflict on the person triggering them. No matter how much they like the person, if that person triggers them, those thoughts of violence arise.

It’s because, and I will draw a conclusion based my own experience, when the person hears a trigger, it is hard to think rationally. The person hears the trigger and has no control over their thoughts after that.

I believe that because of this fact (because I do know that this occurs, as I experience this too), readers who don’t have misophonia and are just being introduced to it may feel alarmed after reading that. This can cause generalization about those who suffer from it: “Everyone who suffers from misophonia has the potential to be violent”.

In no way am I challenging the validity of the articles I’ve read because of this particular theme. I am merely challenging the way this fact is represented. If someone throws that fact in a piece of their writing and doesn’t attempt to explain that sufferers don’t typically act out their violent fantasies on others, readers may get the idea that people with misophonia can be dangerous. As a sufferer myself, I too experience violent fantasies, but never have I acted out on them because I know it’s wrong to do so. Furthermore, I have read many posts on Facebook from sufferers who have these thoughts, but they know (and so do the rest) that they’re not going to put those thoughts into action.

The way I think about it is like this. To hurt someone because of a sound is irrational. It’s not their fault. While that does not necessarily stop the violent thoughts, it certainly helps in calming me down.

If people are going to write about misophonia for others to see, and decide to include violent thoughts, they need to provide more information than “hearing a trigger can cause a sufferer to have violent thoughts”. Because, again, some readers may conclude (and thus, generalize) that people with misophonia are dangerous.

Perhaps there are some people who do act out on those thoughts of violence. I’d like to think that, if there are, it’s a very small percentage. I’m not going to ignore that that is a very real possibility. What I’m trying to say is that not everyone who has misophonia will act out on a violent thought. “Well, what constitutes a violent thought,” you might ask. A good question that I hope I can provide a clear answer to based on my own experience. A violent thought could be thinking about punching someone in the face for making a trigger sound. Another example is thinking about slapping the person. It could also be thinking of shoving something down the offender’s throat, as well as an abundance of other gross imagery that I won’t talk about here. The intensity depends on how badly the person is triggered. At least, that’s how it is with me. It can be very different for someone else.

Despite this very real fact, I believe that most people who suffer from this are kind and rational people. Even though we have what is most likely a neurological disorder, we’re still people, and don’t deserve to be generalized as dangerous or violent. No one with any type of disorder should be generalized in any way. My hope is that the more articles and research that come out about misophonia, there will be less risk of generalization of sufferers.

In no way do I mean to sound insensitive. I am simply providing an opinion. As a reminder: You are free to disagree respectfully, and discuss in the comments if you so wish.

See you next week!

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