What causes people to have things that ‘go through them’ such as not being able to touch polystyrene or the sound of ice scraping in a freezer?



What causes people to have things that ‘go through them’ such as not being able to touch polystyrene or the sound of ice scraping in a freezer?

In: Biology

We can be trained by association. If every time you touch a banana I beat you with a stick you will not be able to stand touching a banana after a few trials depending on how fast you learn that bananas = stick. If that happens when you are young, you might not even know why you don’t like touching bananas. And it does not have to be that dramatic. You could learn an association at any time and for purely emotional reasons. Maybe you heard ice scraping and it was on they day your friend’s mother died and now you associate that sound with a bad feeling. It could be something as simple as playing with Styrofoam and then getting sick from eating something and your brain makes that association that styrofoam is bad to touch. There would be an evolutionary advantage to this type of training because it would be a quick way to learn what dangers to avoid in the environment but it just goes a little sideways and makes you afraid of something that isn’t harmful.

It’s typically a mental issue kinda thing having to do with sensory overload.

Think of each of us having a tolerance level for different types/complexities of sound/texture/taste, and in a lot of neurodivergent people that tolerance can be lower than the norm.

I literally can’t stand bitter food. My spouse practically crawls up the wall if they have to touch cardboard. We’re just wired a bit different.


~~No one said Misophonia,~~ I’m no doctor or anything but I always chalked it up to mild Misophonia. ^(someone better equipped than I has gone more in depth about it)

Then again I’m the type that has my headphones in even when I’m not listening to anything so maybe I’m the exception here lmao

With respect to sounds, this is called [misophonia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misophonia#Classification).

There’s a small but growing body of research to suggest it’s a psychiatric disorder. [This piece](https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/misophonia-sounds-really-make-crazy-2017042111534) describes two physical findings in the brain:

“The team’s important finding was in a part of the brain that plays a role both in anger and in integrating outside inputs (such as sounds) with inputs from organs such as the heart and lungs: the anterior insular cortex (AIC). Using fMRI scans to measure brain activity, the researchers found that the AIC caused much more activity in other parts of the brain during the trigger sounds for those with misophonia than for the control group. Specifically, the parts of the brain responsible for long-term memories, fear, and other emotions were activated …,

“The researchers also used whole-brain MRI scans to map participants’ brains and found that people with misophonia have higher amounts of myelination. Myelin is a fatty substance that wraps around nerve cells in the brain to provide electrical insulation, like the insulation on a wire. It’s not known if the extra myelin is a cause or an effect of misophonia and its triggering of other brain areas.”

There have been a few studies on this but the most common conclusion seems to be: frequency.

The frequency of some of the most hated noises (nails on a chalkboard, styrofoam rubbing together, forks/knives screeching across a plate) are all pretty close to the frequency of infants crying.

We’re programmed to feel the need to “do something” when we hear an infant in trouble. That skin crawling feeling is our limbic system telling us “hey, go help!” Only with these noises, there’s nothing to do but wait it out, so it takes a while for the feeling to pass.

Bonus: for people who have issues with these types of noises, getting up and moving around a bit can help the skin crawling feeling pass sooner.

Like what happens to me when I eat “one of those things”?

I can barely handle touching certain towels or paper products such as toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, etc. it physically hurts my teeth and makes the muscles in my shoulders, neck and face to twinge. Not sure why this could even possibly happen. I despise it everytime it does though. Same thing happens with very specific sounds. Silverware on plates and certain *clanking* sounds of various metals hitting each other.