Posted Sep 07, 2011 11:00 am CDT
It’s a little-known condition with a little-known name: misophonia.
The problem is an aversion to soft sounds, which can include the noise of people eating, the New York Times reports. Mealtime can be torture for such individuals. The sounds of chewing, chomping and slurping can cause sufferers to feel rage, panic or terror.
San Diego lawyer Heidi Salerno is among those dealing with the affliction, the story says. She keeps her office door shut to avoid sounds such as pens clicking. She is a champion swing dancer, but her dance students know that gum chewing is strictly prohibited. She began plugging her ears at the dinner table as a youth. Others with the disorder sometimes use white-noise devices to block soft sounds.