Dr Phil: Misophonia & OCD
Dr Phil met a couple struggling to manage daily life. Sydney has an extreme disorder that means “she cannot stand everyday sounds, like chewing, swallowing, breathing, snoring, or whistling.” This is called Misophonia, or Selective Sound Sensitivity.
She is also particular about how people touch her, and she makes her fiance hold his breath before kissing her. (Kelly Ripa also claims to have Misophonia.) In an interview, Sydney said that these sounds make her angry.
“I can’t stand the sound that Michael makes when he eats,” she said, adding that she will avoid the room. Intimacy is an issue for this couple, because they can’t cuddle or hold hands without her getting upset for touching her or breathing.
Dr Phil: Misophonia and Anger
She requires a loud fan next to the bed and separate blankets, as well as a body pillow separating them. Sometimes she throws things when she gets angry. Michael is way more patient than I would be!
Sydney said she thinks she has “Misophonia, OCD, and severe anxiety.” Dr Phil asked her what Michael does that bothers her the most, and she basically said “everything,” including brushing up against her.
Michael said it is frustrating, and Sydney said she knows it is not normal. “I want to change it more than anything,” she said, because it has such control over her life.
Dr Phil: OCD Bedtime Rituals
Sydney also talked about her OCD rituals, such as counting and the way she touches things. She also has a strict bedtime routine, including how many times she shakes the water off her toothbrush.
During the taping, she said that she felt comfortable onstage because humming sounds were drowning out “natural, human sounds that people make.” The list of sounds Sydney can’t stand is endless. That has got to be no way to live.
“Some things bother me more than others,” Sydney said, mentioning chewing as her top complaint.
Dr Phil: Pregnancy & Misophonia
Sydney was seven months pregnant when she spoke to Dr Phil. She already has two children, and she feels that her problems are preventing her from being a good mother. She has to hold her daughter’s hand a certain way, and is particular about how she is going to be touched.
She said she feels crazy and is worried about what her daughter thinks. Sydney told Dr Phil that she has explained to her daughter that it is not her daughter’s fault that she is this way; the girl is not doing anything wrong.
Dr Phil: Selective Sound Sensitivity
As for the upcoming third child, stress seems to make her problems worse, and Sydney is afraid she won’t be able to handle things. Dr Phil explained that Misophonia is Selective Sound Sensitivity, causing “abnormally strong negative reactions of the autonomic and limbic systems to specific ‘soft’ sounds.”
He went on to explain that it bothers sufferers particularly when the sounds are caused by someone you are emotionally attached to. “That describes me exactly to a T,” Sydney said. Dr Phil said that there are multiple components to this problem.
Dr Phil: Biofeedback Therapy + Neurofeedback Treatment
“Sometimes we get into a neurological loop,” he said, that can cause this to become ritualistic. Dr Phil did say there are treatment options. Sometimes Misophonia can be helped with medication, as well as Biofeedback and Neurofeedback treatments, he said.
Dr Phil offered to connect Sydney with specialized care to address her problems so she can learn new tools to manage her symptoms. Both she and Michael were thrilled to accept this help.