Monday, February 10, 2014

I cannot stand whistling

To demonstrate how difficult it is to deal with this horrible sound, many years ago, shortly after I came to the US, I got a call from my sister in Dublin. It was late in the evening over there and she was in a taxi on her way home. In a way that only sisters can communicate, I very quickly understood, without her actually saying it, that the taxi driver was whistling and was in severe danger as her anger became almost uncontrollable. She called me in Texas, on her mobile phone, in order that I could talk her down, and save the taxi driver from immediate injury. We talking for the rest of her journey home, probably a full 20 minutes.

I didn't think it was in the least bit odd. I did think that we were both more than a bit strange, but not for the first time.

My wonderful husband of over 12 years has a habit of whistling when he is concentrating. The first week we met I had to explain to him how much I hated whistling, and he does make valiant efforts to curb his habit around me. When he forgets I stop short of choking him and ask him to stop, which he does. Sometimes he even manages to remain quiet for more than a few minutes but, depending on the task at hand, he soon starts up again. I know that he is not even aware that he is doing it, sadly that doesn't stop me from wanting to scream. I do hate being a nag, so rarely will I remind him more than twice. The third time I either remove myself from the vacinity, or stick headphones in my ears with the music up high enough to drown out the awful sound.

It is not just that I hate the sound of whistling, tuneless or otherwise, it makes me see red—I am normally a fairly easy going person, injustice in any form will get me riled, but whistling makes me want to kill. As both my sisters feel the same I often thought it was because my father used to constantly whistle tunelessly, and as small children we were very afraid of him, with good cause.

However, I consulted my good friend Google and discovered a multitude of people out there with exactly the same reaction. I can't tell you how comforting it was to discover the people here, who not only shared my abhorrence of whistling, but also 'smacking' or 'gobbling' when eating or chewing gum, finger tapping, tuneless humming and almost any repetitive noise, oh, and cracking knuckles.

But imagine my amazement when I discovered that there is actually a name for this perfectly natural reaction! Misophonia! Described by my other friend Wiki here. Misophonia, literally "hatred of sound", is a neurological disorder in which negative experiences (anger, flight, hatred, disgust) are triggered by specific sounds.

What is even more surprising is that there is a website and Yahoo group dedicated to people with this condition. Could it be that I am normal after all!?

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