Suppose there is a bottle of dried basil and a bottle of curcuma on the shelf, and your mother tells you to pass her the basil but points at the curcuma. You would be puzzled at whether to interpret the auditory cue and pass the bottle of basil or interpret the visual cue and pass the bottle of curcuma. If you had misophonia and your mother yelled this order at you, you might want her to stop shouting and respond -- asking her, "What the hell do you want me to do?" Your mother could respond with, "Come on, beat it!"

The trigger misophonia sounds here are simply the mother using a coarse shouting voice to speak. The more this voice is used the more unbearable it becomes.

I have explained it to my mother on hundreds of occasions, but she either acted as though she was ignoring the problem or as though she didn't know what to do. It wouldn't be very constructive for me to say she bloody well knows what she's doing, maybe I shouldn't be angry about it, she's been nicer lately, but how do I make her understand that shouting commands at me is counter productive?

  • 2
    Is your mother aware you have misophonia and does she believe you? Are you a minor or an adult? Do you live with your mother? The answers to these questions may greatly affect the solution to your problem. Nov 7, 2017 at 20:05
  • Well, I have explained it to my mother on hundreds of occasions but she I one hand acted as though ignoring the problem and on the other hand as though not knowing what to do (and it wouldn't be very constructive for me to say she bloody well knows what she's doing, maybe I shouldn't be angry about it, she's been nicer lately, but how do I deal with it)? Nov 7, 2017 at 20:10
  • I would appreciate it if you could answer for both the case of minors and adults. My son may have it. (He/she's still in the womb though). Nov 7, 2017 at 20:11
  • To be honest I think someone else did something similar to me, and when I explained to my mother what had happened she stated doing the same. Nov 7, 2017 at 20:12

4 Answers 4


This will be a tough sell on your parents to recognize and support you over - Misophonia is not currently a recognized condition or disorder, it has only been proposed in 2000. It's very possible that your parents don't think of it as "real" at all and think you are making excuses. I don't think it'll be easily possible for you to convince them otherwise.

You could, however, discuss with your mother and try to get her to yell less and be nicer towards you. You don't need to frame this as a disability that you need accomodation to.

Explain to your mother that her shouting at you makes you very uncomfortable and isn't likely to induce what she wants (you doing something) in any way. If your mother is at all considerate, she'll probably make an effort towards curbing that behavior.

You don't need to frame this as a "You should do this for me" kind of argument, you could try convincing her to comply by highlighting what she can gain from this approach:

When you want me to do something or are angry, you often shout at me. This makes me very uncomfortable and actively detracts me from doing what you want me to do. So if you want me to do something, a calm voice is actually more likely to get what you want.

Often times people are much more receptive to changing their behavior if you highlight what they can gain from it, and not just what you'll gain from it. You change "This person wants something from me" into "This person is proposing a win-win situation" which is easier to accept and work towards.

  • 1
    The problem with this approach could actually be not realizing the mother actually wants the son to feel helpless, so shouts si him to keep him in that state of mind, or think about what is being done to him. Nov 10, 2017 at 18:19

If the problem is arising after your mother gives ambiguous commands, it may help to articulate more clearly what you are confused about. "What the hell do you want me to do?" is not an informative response (and it is argumentative besides), especially if your mother doesn't realize that she is being unclear. Instead specifically state what additional information you need.

You asked for the basil but pointed at the curcuma. Would you like me to get you both?

  • I've tried that on several occasions. Her response in all cases was, "come on, just do it!!!". One day, I invited a very close person into the apartment where this happened, and it was very clear that my mother knew perfectly well what she was doing. In other words she just pretended it waa me, not understanding, and carried on. Nov 10, 2017 at 17:53
  • 8
    If your mother is deliberately miscommunicating, then nothing you do is going to bridge this gap, because she doesn't want it bridged. You are going to need to get the support of an ally whom your mother respects (either socially or legally), or remove yourself from these sorts of interactions with your mother as much as possible. Nov 10, 2017 at 21:29

Follow these steps:

1) When your mother treats you poorly (yells or otherwise treats you with disrespect) ask her to lower her voice and use kinder words. Please note if she lowers her voice or uses nice words but with a sarcastic tone you should probably consider this a success, thank her with a smile, if you can, and continue with your dinner/activity. If the sarcasm doesn't disappear after three or more different occasions (each occasion being on a separate day at least) then you should ask her to not be sarcastic.

2) If she continues to yell or be mean leave the room. Take a walk, watch tv, read a book. listen to some calming music. Whatever soothes you and helps you deal with your misophonia.

3)If Your mother pursues you just explain that you don't like the way you were being treated, so you've gone to anther room to calm down.

4) If she continues trying to argue or otherwise deliberately makes your life unpleasant then leave her house and go to your own home/apartment.

5)If you have to repeat this entire routine more than 3 times with no improvement then you will need to honestly consider if you mother is to caustic to continue visiting.

Please note that you will need to be absolutely calm during this process. Speaking calmly and respectfully to her especially when taking the above steps does two things, 1- it shows her an example of correct/nice/kind/respectful behavior. 2- shows her that she does not have power to influence or manipulate you or your emotions.

You may consider apologizing for times when you have yelled at her (or otherwise been disrespectful). A sincere apology has a great way of softening people up. If she does not accept the apology or especially if she makes fun of you when you apologize that could be a red flag that your mother is not willing to help get over this issue with you.

I'm sorry you have to go through this, stand strong, stay calm, and congrats on the baby boy!


I've had similar issues with a different kind of condition, both with parents and with a neighbour whose answer was to shout and rave if something wasn't as they wanted.

What I've found in both cases, was that the wording I used to explain it, was critical, and they won't want to move, but will in fact move. Probably quite quickly.

Power dynamics

There is a twist in your case, to deal with first. If your mother is using this as a way to vent frustration by stressing you - a kind of "power dynamic" update on kicking the dog when you feel annoyed - and she's mentally going "I'm stressed, I could give a shit, you can have some stress as well" when it happens, then you also need to deal with that by ensuring she figures its not in her best interest. If she's just volatile and stressy, then you will need her to learn self-control instead.

In either case be aware that there is a chance that solving it will mean going face to face with her bad behaviours, but on your terms. After all, if what she was doing wasn't (for her) a great approach psychologically speaking, she wouldn't be doing it. Reasoned explanation isn't helping. So you need to undermine and remove that, and make calm resolution on her part more advantageous, not by reason, but by changing the way it plays out - changing how you respond. She won't like it, obviously. Perhaps nor will you. People like the familiar.

Let's get to actual tactics.

Situation #1: Ranty neighbour

The neighbour situation for me, came to a head when she was ranting about something, ignoring everything, not letting me explain, with 2 family members attacking as well any time I tried.

I fell back on the most crude of measures: "Jane [not her real name] be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane, be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen Jane be quiet and listen...." Over and over and over, quietly and constantly, in a dull bored as hell monotone without pauses, until the message got through.

Eventually she shut up and did. Then I said simply, _"If you shout, I can't help you. If you don't listen I can't help you." Then I waited, and when she stayed quiet, explained. Just once. If she had ranted again, I'd have repeated exactly the same, and repeated, and repeated, until she paused, waited and had a civil dialogue.

And oddly, she's never tried that since, even once. In fact she's become very civil to me.

Situation #2: Reactive shouty parent

The parent one, they wanted to help but were stressed. So I could be more engaging. I explained (as you did) that when they shout, it's really hard to stay calm and not react badly (which was the issue we had between us with shouting). But it didn't work, because so often emotion trumps reason. So I tried two things.

First, I picked a calm time when they wanted to be interacting nicely, and told them in simple terms, that I couldn't do what they wanted if they shouted. I used words like I need...,and I just can't..., rather than pitching it as a preference or social niceness. I used words like When you [this] my brain goes [that] rather than 'I have XYZ mental health condition'. I explained the immediate cause of my reacting: and its really painful even if that doesn't make sense to you.

Second I didn't argue (they'd just shout more). I simply found a reaction that they un-liked enough that shouting became unliked too, and listening became better for them. Same as with the neighbour. In their case, the moment they shouted (ignored what I'd said about what I needed), I just walked to my room and shut the door, and refused to talk or engage other than "Get out. Get out. Get out. Get out. (etc)" if they came in. Essentially looking for a passive-aggressive countermove/reaction that takes me out of the battle and disfavours shouting over listening as a tactic.

You can mentally imagine the unspoken counter-statement as saying, "If you're going to do that, I'm not going to help you, and you can rant with no reaction (at a door) if you have to rant at anything."

Basically I decided to deny them a verbal confront when they did, and let them have the last word if they insisted. A very hollow unhelpful victory.

Eventually they did listen. And using the words above, I explained. I had to do it more than once. I occasionally had to do heavy duty aggressive parental guilt tripping too ("You don't care about me do you. All I've asked is to tell me quietly, and you can't even do that. Just go away"), and refused to engage till they have finished taking that on board. Eventually, it worked.

Wrapping up and summarising

So those would be my tactics.

People find change hard. What they are doing suits them given what you're doing, even if useless. They feel ok or vindicated or right about it. Explanation doesn't work. So you need to change the dynamic, or change what they do, by making it deprive them of the reaction that sustains what they're doing and makes it pointless. Unfortunately its games against games. So when you see them drop theirs, you need to drop yours too, to give peace a chance. You might need to do that many times, but eventually it'll work.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.