I am writing on behalf of the Misophonia Support Group on Facebook and people who have the neurological disorder of misophonia. The article recently posted on misophonia entitled “Annoyed by loud chewing? The problem is you.” is offensive, riddled with misinformation and unsubstantiated. People in the misophonia community are outraged at the author, Elizabeth Bernstein, and her lack of journalistic integrity. Additionally, this author’s online behavior is disconcerting. She routinely blocks people who criticize her piece on Twitter and deletes critical comments on FaceBook. Do you approve of your writers refusing to take any amount of criticism of their work from the people being negatively impacted by their writing? The piece as published has done a disservice to people with misophonia and they feel they were wrongfully attacked in her writing. If you need more information on this issue, please contact me. I, and many other members of the misophonia community, am appalled that the Wall Street Journal would allow such a disaster of a piece to be published.
As a proactive group, we work very hard to raise awareness for our disorder, but because it is a new diagnosis (though not a new disorder), we are faced with a lot of adversity from people who do not believe the disorder is “real” or underestimate the severity of the condition. We even have some people who blatantly and intentionally trigger our symptoms out of malice. One of our main struggles is preventing the damage done by ignorant pseudo-psychologists and journalists regarding the components of this disorder.
Misophonia is a debilitating neurological disorder and a disability to those who suffer from it. An author associated with your publication dismissed the condition as being a matter of mere annoyance and suggested that sufferers should deal with it in silence and “just get over it.” She echoed the dismissive words sometimes used by the uninformed people in a misophonic’s life under the guise of an authoritative persona. Having people read these words in an esteemed journal such as the Wall Street Journal does not foster support from non-sufferers and belittles this disorder and blames the victims for their affliction.
Ms. Bernstein cited no experts (partially because of the lack of experts in this field) yet said “the experts are clear” that misophonia is only the sufferer’s problem and that they have no right to ask for help or any kind of accommodation. This condition is a severe disability for many and her unsubstantiated position is that accommodating a disability such as misophonia is considered “enabling.” This was by far the most offensive and inaccurate proposition made in the article.
It is unsettling that the WSJ would allow low quality journalism on their site, but even more unsettling is how fast this misinformation is spreading due to the article remaining on the site and being shared by other publications. News journals such as the WSJ should be working towards the spread of correct information and the eradication of ignorance such as was published in this article.
We would like to ask that you retract the article on misophonia and have a competent author/journalist do an adequate amount of research on the subject before attempting another publication on this topic. Ms. Bernstein is a dark mark on your list of contributors and should be reprimanded for writing authoritatively about a disorder she clearly knows little about. Her use of inaccurate information and questionable descriptions of viable treatment options appears to be an attempt to gain attention by publishing an article on a trending medical topic. Her actions on social media were equally appalling, those of us who responded to her are informed sufferers of the disorder and she disregarded our comments, corrections and criticisms like that of a teen blogger, further showing her lack of understanding and low quality style of journalism.
We hope for immediate action to remedy this editorial oversight on the part of the WSJ. Please feel free to respond to this email with any questions you may have regarding our concerns with the content of the article, the author’s approach to the piece, the Misophonia Support Group or misophonia in general.
Thank you in advance.
Artemis Mittman is a misophonia.com guest writer.
For information about submitting articles for publication, please visit the Guest Writers Guidelines