A man who flies into a rage at the sound of chewing hasn’t been able to speak to his family four years due to his rare condition.
Derrol Murphy, 41, suffers with misophonia, a mental disorder which causes certain noises to trigger heightened emotional responses including rage, panic and the need to flee.
The graphic design company production manager has lived with the condition, also known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome, for as long as he can remember, but thought he was ‘just crazy’ for many years.
Misophonia has left him unable to see relatives due to their throat clearing, walk out on dates with noisy eaters and come close to attacking co-workers who click pens – but against the odds, he has managed to have a relationship with co-worker Kurt Vin, 41, for the last two years after warning him in advance about his extreme reactions to sounds.
Derrol, from San Diego, US, said: “I thought I was crazy for many years. Little noises would make me just fly into a rage.
“People don’t understand it and I can’t explain it. It’s affected relationships, especially people I’ve been dating and family members, because you take it out on the people closest to you because you think they should understand.
“I’m not an aggressive person, noises just anger me. I’ve had to walk out on dates if they are chewing really loudly, my face gives it away – I pull a look of disgust I can’t hide.
“Chewing is a big one and specific voices. I hear everything all the time.
“One noise can stick out and if I’m in a restaurant, I hear one person’s voice and then I hear the cutlery, it makes me go crazy.
“The rustling of plastic bags drives me absolutely crazy, and I haven’t been to the movies for more than 10 years because people opening food bags is a very bad trigger.
“It’s definitely made dating interesting, and I haven’t been able to speak to relatives for years as the throat clearing would make situations tense.”
After being single for two years after the condition caused the breakdown of his previous relationship, Derrol began dating Kurt after meeting him at work – but had to warn him about his eating habits on their first date.
Now, the couple have adopted a ‘warning signal’ before Kurt makes a noise that will irritate Derrol, to give him chance to escape.
Derrol said: “When Kurt chews, his jaw clicks and when we first started dating, he was eating with his mouth open on the first date.
“I thought there was no way it was going to work, and had to tell him pretty quickly.
“Kurt will shout to cover my ears then I can brace myself.
“Misophonia contributed to the breakdown of my relationship with my ex, so it’s huge that Kurt is so understanding.
“Most people say they understand but he just has to look at my face to know when a noise is getting to me.”
Derrol finally put a name to his condition when he was 30 after he was left feeling so frustrated, he googled his symptoms and has since learned to deal with the rage caused by certain sounds by distracting himself with music or the TV.
But he is still forced to wear headphones for three hours hours a day to reduce his misophonia, and is now speaking out to raise awareness of the little-known disorder.
He said: “Hopefully, people will get a bigger understanding of it and realise that just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
“It’s actually real and people need to be patient with people who have to deal with it.
“It’s hard enough for us to figure out what’s going on.”