Dear Future President,
As a student with misophonia, this subject has a lot of weight behind it for me. Misophonia (which literally translates to "hatred of sound") is a chronic condition where specific trigger noises create an emotional reaction to an individual. Many emotions related to hearing the trigger noises include panic, rage, irritation, and a flight-or-flight reaction is common with people who suffer from misophonia. Sufferers relate the experience of hearing the trigger noise as to that of hearing nails on a chalkboard.
This condition is relatively unknown. Sufferers have often put the blame on themselves, saying that there must be something wrong with them, or that they're at fault for reacting this way. There have been situations where when a sufferer has told a loved one about their feelings, they have been told to just "Ignore it." But that's just the thing. It's impossible to ignore.
Only two case studies (Hadjipavlou et al., 2008; Schwartz et al., 2011) and one clinical study (Schröder et al., 2013) have examined misophonia. There is still little known about it, but a common suggestion is that the brain mistakes the sounds as a threat, thus inducing a negative reaction to the noise.
Misophonia commonly surfaces during the stages of puberty, but it can occur earlier. Some sufferers, including myself, have had it for as long as they can remember.
It's important that we put more effort into researching this condition and spread the word about it. Students with misophonia should be allowed to wear headphones in the classroom, and move to a different seat (or out of the classroom entirely) if they need too. Workplaces should be considerate towards people with this condition as well. Quiet zones should be established if they need to be. If it goes untreated, misophonia can worsen.
Thank you for taking your time and reading this letter.