The question of whether or not misophonia is genetic is a complex one. Many people express strong opinions on this topic–from audiologists to scholars. There has been some research into this topic, and there is indeed evidence that misophonia may be genetic. However, others believe that misophonia is a learned behavior rather than something that is inherited. In this article, we will look into the topic of genetic misophonia and finally put to rest the question of whether or not misophonia is genetic.
What is Misophonia?
Before delving into whether misophonia is genetic, we must first understand what this condition is. Misophonia is a hearing condition that is defined as a hatred or fear of sound. When people are experiencing misophonia, they will have an emotional reaction to sound.
Sounds that don’t seem to bother anyone else will bring out a visceral reaction in people with misophonia. The triggering sounds will vary from person to person. However, often, people with misophonia will be particularly triggered by repetitive sounds. This may include sounds such as chewing, someone tapping their foot, typing, breathing, and others.
When someone is experiencing misophonia, their reaction to triggering sounds may range from mild to extreme. They may experience any of the following:
- Panic attacks
- Avoidance of triggering sounds
- Anger and rage
- Physical outbursts of violence
- Stress and anxiety
- An urge to flee
People with misophonia are quite literally driven “crazy” by their triggering sounds. This makes misophonia a potentially volatile condition that can be hazardous for everyone involved. People with misophonia can get extremely angry with people who are producing triggering sounds. In extreme cases, they could even become violent.
Additionally, people with misophonia may isolate away from friends and family because they want to avoid potentially triggering sounds. This can have a severe effect on their personal life. Additionally, they may have a hard time living a peaceful life because they are continually trying to avoid their triggers. Uncomfortable sounds may even be perceived as painful by people experiencing misophonia, meaning they experience physical discomfort as a result of their condition.
The Link Between Misophonia and Genetics
The debate about whether misophonia is genetic is a hotly debated one. However, there is some concrete information to consider. Researchers from the genetics testing company 23andme have found a genetic marker that is related to misophonia. It has been found that this marker is positioned close to the TENM2 gene. This gene is specifically involved in brain development. Thus, it makes sense that, if something is abnormal in this genetic marker, it can affect the brain’s perception of sound during development.
The researchers conducted a survey on individuals of European descent, finding that 20 percent confirmed that they were “filled with rage” by the sound of others chewing. This is shocking knowledge, as many people don’t even know that misophonia exists, much less that it affects such a large portion of the population.
Additionally, there have been other studies that seem to show the link between misophonia and genetics. According to an article published in the Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology, a small study was conducted on a family of 15 individuals, which showed a strong presence of misophonia and the way the family members experienced it. The researchers concluded that: “The high incidence of misophonia in this particular familial distribution suggests that it might be more common than expected and raises the possibility of having a hereditary etiology.”
There is More To It
While the genetic marker’s presence indicates a link between genetics and misophonia, there are other factors to consider. Environmental factors can affect the way that we eventually express our various genetic markers. Epigenetics studies changes in gene function that are heritable but not attributed to alterations of the DNA sequence. You can also think of epigenetics as the study of how the environment affects genetic expression.
The idea of epigenetics comes into play when considering whether misophonia is genetic. While there is a genetic marker related to misophonia, there are also environmental factors that can potentially cause people to experience misophonia in a more extreme way than others. For example, if someone is in poor health or exposed to environmental toxins, they may express certain negative traits that are part of their genetics more extremely than if they were in a healthy environment.
This means that people who experience misophonia may have it worse if they are negatively affected by their environment. Thus, misophonia can be thought of as a condition that is affected by both nature and nurture. Someone may be predisposed to the condition, but they may not express it (or may do so to a lesser degree) if they don’t have negative environmental factors.
Additionally, people may express misophonia more strongly as time goes on. Misophonia can have a building and cyclical effect. People with misophonia are born with a predisposition to being sensitive to sounds. However, as time goes on, it can worsen because they will naturally have an increased awareness of sounds because they’re so sensitive to them. Then, as time goes on, they will develop an increased need to focus on triggering sounds specifically because they’re triggering. As this cycle continues, their reaction to misophonia will likely get worse.
Misophonia and Genetics
As can be seen, the link between misophonia and genetics is a complex one. There are many different factors to consider when it comes to this condition characterized by a hatred of sounds. First, there is some evidence that shows a link between genetics and misophonia. However, there is more to it than simply genetics.
Some people who have a predisposition to misophonia but live in a healthy environment and are in good health may not be too affected. Additionally, misophonia is a condition that can get worse over time. Thus, if someone is predisposed to misophonia and then has environmental factors that exacerbate that condition, they may end up in a vicious cycle. As they are triggered by the sounds that affect them, they may end up being more sensitive to those sounds, which can make misophonia worse.
The relationship between misophonia and genetics is a complex one. If you are experiencing a hatred of sound, don’t wait until it becomes intolerable. Talk to your doctor about how they might be able to help. They may suggest certain lifestyle changes or even refer you to an audiologist. Always remember to avoid waiting until things get bad. It’s always best to be proactive when it comes to your hearing and mental health.