November 18, 2016

Misophonia suicide.

We've talked about misophonia here before — back in 2011 when there was an article in the NYT by Joyce Cohen titled "When a Chomp or a Slurp Is a Trigger for Outrage."

Now, Joyce Cohen tells us about a woman — a wealthy NYC scholar named Michelle Lamarche Marrese — who seems to have killed herself because of the condition. Marrese — having read that NYT article — wrote to Cohen:
“My husband is a noisy eater... He breathes like he just ran a marathon even while sitting still. Of course, noise does not bother him, so he manages to forget that I really am in emotional pain most of the time... The noise is literally unbearable. And if anyone else hears it: they will say it is a ‘nothing.’ It is not nothing for me... I am trapped here. I have far too much material when I’m working [on my book] to go to the library, and you know the endless sniffling, coughing, gum chewing that goes on there.... Forgive the intrusion and the outpouring. I have left your name for my husband. If I can’t stand any more agony, at least you can write about me.”

51 comments:

Fernandinande said...

You should be made. To wear earphones.

damikesc said...

Hate to say good to suicide...but good. Nice of her to blame him for her problems. I bet it'll easy for him to pick up the pieces now, even though his wife is clearly bat-shit insane.

Sydney said...

Yeah, what Fernandinande said. I was wondering why she didn't just buy earplugs. They are cheap and easy to get. If you want to spend a lot of money you can get the kind they make people where in high noise industries that go over your ears.

Lyssa said...

Wild. What if she had sought to merely deafen herself instead? (I assume that a doctor could do that fairly easily.)

(I know that that is grossly oversimplifying suicide, which rarely has a single neat cause.)

Gahrie said...

Why not just become a monk or a hermit?

rhhardin said...

Amazon is unable to search for debra messing dvd.

No matches for debra messi

it says.

It seems I already have her only dvd that isn't a TV season, in any case.

Actresses in the news.

chickelit said...

The reason people don't take her condition seriously is because she asks us to put our whole lives on hold for her sake. She asks us to let her dictate what's noise and what's sound. Life is intolerable for her and intolerable for society if it had to come to a silent standstill. I hope she found peace.

damikesc said...

The reason people don't take her condition seriously is because she asks us to put our whole lives on hold for her sake. She asks us to let her dictate what's noise and what's sound. Life is intolerable for her and intolerable for society if it had to come to a silent standstill. I hope she found peace.

I don't, because she made sure her husband had to live with the belief that HE caused her to die. That's a fate I cannot fathom...and she did it with no problem.

traditionalguy said...

She just needed to live alone.

But throwing shame and guilt on her spouse seemed to her to be the better way. But she woke up dead and he was probably overjoyed.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Lyssa has the correct answer. If every small sound of others living and the sounds of the world irritate you to this extent, go deaf. Have a procedure done to ensure that you will never ever hear those sounds again.

Of course that probably won't solve the real underlying problem but at least her husband can eat and breath in peace.

holdfast said...

I had and ex-girlfriend who had this, though not quite to the same degree. She would insist on loudish music or TV while we were eating so she could not hear me eat.

Not surprisingly, that was not her only element of crazy.

Great body though. Still, not worth it in the long run.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Sounds like a living hell.

Mac McConnell said...

This woman hated her husband to the end, the world is in a better place now.

Achilles said...

Suicide became an "epidemic" in the army during 2009. I know because they told us daily it was an epidemic and we had to go to briefings on how to recognize the signs constantly. Then a kid came to the battalion for a couple weeks while most were deployed and killed himself before they got back. You don't understand the term mass punishment until the army gets a hold of you.

I hate being callus and it will not help telling people who kill themselves how much pain they cause. They are almost always completely wrapped up in themselves. This woman sounds like she never even told her husband what she was thinking and he is probably devastated.

Tari said...

She had this condition and she stayed in NYC? Did she ever even try to live somewhere that's actually quiet? I guess she preferred to blame her husband instead of living in "the sticks".

paminwi said...

Has the woman never heard of DIVORCE? Get the hell out if your life is so miserable. My guess is he was earning the money while she was "writing" so she had no other source of income. She couldn't leave, just made his life miserable while she used his resources.

Paddy O said...

I'm very sensitive to noise.

But, there's a choice about how to deal with that. For a reasonable amount I can control my environment. But unless you live alone in the middle of forest (for some reason nature sounds don't bother me), it can easily become controlling people.

Which then is also part of the allure. Unable to stop the tide, the would be emperor despairs about their self.

Rather than controlling people, it is better to learn to adapt. Earplugs work very well, though they can get uncomfortable after time. A box of hearos earplugs seal out most sound and are very cheap. I also tend to have a fan going for white noise.

For times in which ear plugs don't work I use simplynoise.com, which provides great isolation while in my work office and neighbors are on phone or video calls, etc. Etymotic in-ear headphones are also very worthwhile.

Though my suspicion is there was additional psychological/medical issues at work that needed addressing. Suicide is a declaration of despair at nothing possibly working to address the pain. But in every case there isn't a need for such despair. There's always a way forward. Not seeing a way forward is a part of depression, and I suspect the noise issue became the obsessed issue, not unlike how people obsess over their gender identity as the source of all their anguish.

Ann Althouse said...

"You should be made. To wear earphones."

I appreciate the Dylan reference... but the woman's letter talked about headphones. It's something I edited out. Wearing headphones is one of the standard treatments -- along with insulating your living space very well -- but it's not a perfect solution.

Ann Althouse said...

"... wearing headphones simply adds to my irritation and my inability to concentrate. My ears itch constantly when I have them on."

Robert Cook said...

"She had this condition and she stayed in NYC? Did she ever even try to live somewhere that's actually quiet? I guess she preferred to blame her husband instead of living in 'the sticks.'"

Better the hell of noisy New York than the hell of living in the sticks!

Ann Althouse said...

"Wild. What if she had sought to merely deafen herself instead? (I assume that a doctor could do that fairly easily.)"

Now, you're talking.

I thought of that too. If you're willing to destroy your entire body, why not just destroy your inner ear.

Mark said...

OK, so we have a culture that caters to irrationality and hysteria. And we also have a culture (largely the same one) which tells people that in the face of subjective suffering, the way to have dignity is death via suicide, with or without assistance.

These is the harvest of what has been sowed.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tari said...

Robert Cook, since this woman is described as a "socialite", I suspect that's how she felt. I have no desire to go back to the 500 person town I lived in as a child, but I would in a minute if I thought it would cure me of something that tormented me. It's likely that Paddy O is right, however, and this condition became what she obsessed about over and above other, perhaps serious psychological problems. Living in the middle of nowhere wouldn't help with that.

khesanh0802 said...

A sure cure for this mental disorder ( has anyone tried psychotherapy on these people?) is to sit under the muzzle of a 155mm. howitzer for a couple of months during sustained fire missions. After that you will be happy if you can hear anything at all no less some one breathing. Oh you awful, insensitive man! (There saved you a comment.)

Henry said...

He suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses; the most insipid food was alone endurable; he could wear only garments of certain texture; the odours of all flowers were oppressive; his eyes were tortured by even a faint light; and there were but peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with horror.

The Fall of the House of Usher

bagoh20 said...

Poe, could have written "The Telltale Sinus", but his agent shot it down.

Anyway, she solved the problem - she found peace, but selfishly left him with us. I hear him faintly now in the floor where I sit. Louder and louder with each passing minute.

mikee said...

I've been a bit hard of hearing since about age 30. I have real trouble hearing spoken words amid background noises like television, kitchen appliances, road noise while driving, and so on.

It has brought me more unintentional peace and happiness, this being unable to hear a lot of what other people say, than anything else I could have purposefully engineered in my entire life.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Better the hell of noisy New York than the hell of living in the sticks!

This reminds me of the scene in the movie My Cousin Vinny where Joe Pesci's character can't sleep in the country because of the night sounds of owls but when in the noisy jail, he sleeps like a baby. Go figure. It is all in what you are used to hearing.

We live way out in the sticks and the sounds of birds, foxes, cows lowing, crickets, frogs would probably drive Robert Cook nuts too :-)

gerry said...

A sure cure for this mental disorder ( has anyone tried psychotherapy on these people?) is to sit under the muzzle of a 155mm. howitzer for a couple of months during sustained fire missions.

Or put on stereo headphones, plug into a 100-watt amplifier, and listen to Led Zeppelin at very high volume for two days...

FullMoon said...

Ahh, the poor thing. The problem with her particular suicide is that she is not around to see people feel sorry for her.

Teen age relative of a friend breaks up with 20 something boyfriend, he hangs himself.
Several weeks-maybe a couple of months- later, she kills herself.

Neighbors get married after living together for twenty years or so. He comes home from reception, still dressed in wedding suit, kills himself.

Guy across the street has cluster headaches, blows his head off with a shot gun.

Guy next door upset over break up shoots himself with a pistol and dies in driveway-may have been accidental.

eric said...

My son has something like this. He is constantly growling and yelling at his brothers and sister and mom. For some reason I don't seem to bother him.

It's mostly sound, but it isn't just sound. It's also touch and smell. We finally bought him headphones to plug into his computer while he does schoolwork. Seems to help. He listens to rain, which I find odd but he enjoys.

My wife and daughter take his discomfort personally. They can't touch him or he will recoil. They think this is somehow an insult to them. Makes me sad. We have finally taken him to a clinical psychologist and he went through a battery of tests this past Wed. Next month we find out the results.

I hope they can get him some help. We have gone from thinking he is OCD, ADHD, Autistic, and/or having a sensory disorder.

At 14 years old, it's very tough on him.

StephenFearby said...

This excellent review on tinnitus mentions misophonia only in passing:

Int J Otolaryngol. 2016; 2016: 2830157.
Sensorineural Tinnitus: Its Pathology and Probable Therapies
Aage R. Møller *

"...Since the symptoms misophonia are caused by very specific sounds, it seems likely that pathology in the central part of the auditory nervous system is involved in creating the symptoms of this rare disorder. The strong involuntary (autonomic) components of the symptoms suggest involvement of the limbic system or perhaps the insular lobe structures. It is not certain whether misophonia is a part of the tinnitus family or a completely separate disease."

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4761664/

Previously he noted:

"..The role of the immune system in tinnitus has received little attention, but studies of its role in chronic neuropathic pain indicate that it may also have a role in tinnitus [41–43]."

A poorly modulated immune system may explain the cause of many maladies that just don't go away. First described in great depth in by Marty Pall (a retired professor of biochemistry) in his 2007 book:

Explaining 'Unexplained Illnesses'...

https://www.amazon.com/Explaining-Unexplained-Illnesses-Fibromyalgia-Post-Traumatic/dp/078902389X

He also published this article in the same year:

International Tinnitus Journal
The NO/ONOO– Cycle as the Etiological Mechanism of Tinnitus

http://www.tinnitusjournal.com/articles/the-noonoo--cycle-as-the-etiological-mechanism-of-tinnitus.pdf

Pall has proposed a variety of interventions to address this "vicious cycle" of inflammation, but with only variable results.

His theory has been supported by an increasing number of scientific papers by other experts in the field of immunology, but the jury is still out on the best way to address the problem.

One recent try:

"...Non-invasive brain stimulation methods has shown to be effective in the treatment of chronic tinnitus with moderate effect size. First data suggest the use of transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) over both auditory cortices as new and highly effective treatment. Low-frequency (lf; <100Hz) tRNS might be highly effective in tackling hyper-synchronised cell assemblies. Daily lf-tRNS (2 weeks) will be examined with regard to feasibility, safety and clinical efficacy in patients suffering from chronic tinnitus in an one-arm pilot trial."

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02615600


HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Wild. What if she had sought to merely deafen herself instead? (I assume that a doctor could do that fairly easily.)"

Now, you're talking.

I thought of that too. If you're willing to destroy your entire body, why not just destroy your inner ear.


Wiki: Ototoxicity

It's not even that difficult--large daily doses of aspirin will do it in a few months and apparently ethyl alcohol (ethanol!) applied directly to the ear canal can cause hearing loss very quickly.

"... wearing headphones simply adds to my irritation and my inability to concentrate. My ears itch constantly when I have them on."

Yeah, you can get a set of custom-molded inside-the-canal ear plugs for like $20. Here's a pair on Amazon. Nicer ones probably run about $100...but I guess they don't guarantee they won't cause an itch.

Other people's problems are so darn easy to solve!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

eric said...We have finally taken him to a clinical psychologist and he went through a battery of tests this past Wed. Next month we find out the results.

That sounds tough, eric, I hope the test results are good and it turns out to be something that can be addressed easily. That kind of sensitivity might be something he grows out of, too--the brain's still very plastic at that age so you shouldn't be too discouraged even if something isn't going well at the moment.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

My wife suffers from this, although certainly a less extreme case. If I'm going to snack when she's not eating I'll usually go to a different room, a couple rooms away ( the next room is too close. ) Sometimes she'll engage in defensive eating: if she is eating, the sounds of other people eating don't bother her.

She absolutely loathes the Kit-Kat commercials on T.V.

Unknown said...

I have had tinnitis and am easily wakened by sounds. I use a white noise machine to sleep. On the other hand, I am not bothered by children in the next seat to me on a plane and can work on writing at an airport coffee shop.
My wife can't stand the sound of my eating unless she is also eating, so I also go to another room to eat sometimes. But there are solutions to many such problems.

Ann Althouse said...

My heart goes out to you, eric.

furious_a said...


Some autistic kids are sensitive to noises like others eating around them. Somehow the sound or sight will trigger a physical sensation like the food is actually in their mouths, taste or texture or both. It will drive them from the table and sometimes to nausea.

eric said...

HD, we hope he grows out of it. But puberty has made it worse. Or so it seems. We are thankful that he is homeschooled. Can't imagine how he would be treated in public school.

And thanks Ann. We are excited to get an idea of what the issue is so we can start to work to help him manage. Unfortunately, he doesn't recognize anything as being an issue. Which, why would he? We all think we are normal. His mother struggles with it too. Because he won't hug her and gets upset, even changes his clothes, if she touches him.

Maybe you'll have another similar thread around Christmas time and I can update you with what we have been told and what we are doing to help him.

Virgil Hilts said...

I feel bad for her husband (her FB posts about him are really mean). Towards the end, it must have been like coughing around Caligula for the poor guy.

Virgil Hilts said...

Eric, have you tried hypnosis for your sone? 100% serious. Sometimes you can help someone rewire themselves with it. Stanford has been doing a lot of research about it. http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2016/07/study-identifies-brain-areas-altered-during-hypnotic-trances.html

Mac McConnell said...

In a perfect world the husband has a very good support system, like a 30 year old girlfriend that makes him see God.

StephenFearby said...

Eric said:

[1]"...He listens to rain, which I find odd but he enjoys.

[2] "...We have finally taken him to a clinical psychologist and he went through a battery of tests this past Wed. Next month we find out the results.

[3] "...I We have gone from thinking he is OCD, ADHD, Autistic, and/or having a sensory disorder."

1. "White Noise + Rain = White Rain Noise?

"...Assuming that both engineers and mathematicians are right, we conclude that, when a source behaves like a random process, its sound should resemble white noise.

This is exactly what happens with rain. Every drop can be considered as an independent, uncorrelated, sound source. A gentle rain, made of sparse drops, will generate a pitter-patter sound, where you will still be able to hear each drop's distinctive sound. By increasing the rate and the number of drops, a heavier rain starts behaving as a huge random process, and its sound turns white."

"...This sound offers the exact same spectrum as white noise, and can be used in the same applications in the mind, such as ***noise blocking*** or ***tinnitus relief***. If white noise ever sounded too synthetic for your ears, give our white rain noise a try."

https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/whiteRainNoiseGenerator.php

(Free to listen to.)


2. Clinical psychologists are trained to do certain diagnostic testing, particularly to make a DSM(X) diagnosis. Like OCD, (various types of) ADHD and Autistic Spectrum Disorders (including Asperger's). Neuropsychologists are trained to do more in-depth testing, which can be even more useful to pinpoint areas of brain dysfunction. Diagnosis may be greatly aided by measuring electrical connectivity and amplitudes through a QEEG.

3. "OCD, ADHD, Autistic, and/or having a sensory disorder" are all categories reflecting various forms of brain function impairment with the common denominator of (according to lotsa lotsa research) an association with either a past or continuing poorly modulated immune system.

One guy that has been addressing this since the early 1970's (principally for autism) is James Neubrander, MD.

"Our mission is to approach the patient as a total entity by enhancing the biomedical, nutritional, electrical, and immune system to improve the patient's and family's quality of life."

http://www.drneubrander.com/

YMMV

eric said...

Blogger Virgil Hilts said...
Eric, have you tried hypnosis for your sone? 100% serious. Sometimes you can help someone rewire themselves with it. Stanford has been doing a lot of research about it.


We haven't. But I'd be willing to give it a try.

chickelit said...

Tex Avery cartoon (1952) is really the story of a mesophonic bear.

The Gold Digger said...

a wealthy NYC scholar

How on earth does that happen? I would settle for being a wealthy person who works for a living.

Robert Cook said...

"We live way out in the sticks and the sounds of birds, foxes, cows lowing, crickets, frogs would probably drive Robert Cook nuts too :-)"

Actually, I grew up in the sticks, so I could adapt.

Joe said...

I've had moderate tinnitus since I had a severe flu several years ago. According the ear doctor I went to, the frequency is very unusual, especially because I have excellent hearing above it (especially for my age.)

Oh, and the most annoying sound besides people eating with open mouths and babies crying are electic motors, like vacuum cleaners. I find the sound of Harley's extremely grating as well.

Joe said...

Oh, and my youngest son, who has Aspergers, is hyper sensitive to people singing out-of-key (though he can't sing worth a damn. Neither can I, but I can hear when someone sings out-of-key, including myself.)

Fen said...

"so he manages to forget that I really am in emotional pain most of the time"

Yah, something tells me you would have killed yourself over just about anything. You were nuts, likely self-inflicted over trivialities that even your shrink thought were petty. What's sad is not that you are dead, but that despite being so "sensitive" and knowing better, you chose to inflict pain on your loved ones.

I think this is how most the campus "brownshirts" will go. Liberal culture has been mindfucking them to create a new Red Guard, but they are so delicate and triggered that most will not be able to function in this reality.