The Misophonia Activation Scale (MAS-1) is a product of the misophonia UK website. The MAS-1 has appeared center stage in most discussions about misophonia tests. Throughout misophonia history, the MAS-1 has enjoyed an elite status but, is it time to retire this activation scale?
The Misophonia UK.org website, published in 2012, has not received any updates in the last seven years. The site notes its director as Guy Fitzmaurice, LLB, a barrister-at-law. Fitzmaurice appears to be the sole creator of the website. His background is in journalism and healthcare marketing. The website states that Fitzmaurice has a diagnosis of misophonia. But it does not say who made this diagnosis. One can only assume he was self-diagnosed. Self-diagnosis is not unusual, because there is no official diagnosis of misophonia since it does not appear in the DSM (5) or have an ICD code.
The Misophonia Activation Scale (MAS-1)
The Misophonia UK Website’s director is the author of the 11-level Misophonia Activation Scale. The activation scale is often referred to as a self-test by those who discuss it. The website’s notes state that the test was last reviewed on July 16, 2010, making it about nine years old.
Although the activation scale “is intended to guide clinicians and patients in assessing the severity of a sufferer’s condition,” it does not include any information about its development. There is no mention of any research used in the creation of the scale. Nor does it say how the symptoms reported in each level originated. There is no evidence that the scale went through any testing for reliability or validity. Further, the descriptions it contains are not all measurable or even observable. Neither are the levels of misophonia it contains mutually exclusive. The introduction notes state that the MAS-1 is a work in progress and that it will receive updates as research becomes available. Research has occurred, but to date, the test has not received any updates.
Since there is no information on the test’s creation, it does not make a good candidate as a screening tool. The notes also suggest that the scale may not suit all people. It says some “may experience symptoms in a different order” and that some people may not need all 11 levels. It further dilutes its validity with a suggestion to “create your misophonia scale.”
Despite the scale’s ample disclaimers and issues with origination, it gets quoted as a factual source of information. Research projects still cite the MAS-1 in their bibliographies. Why is this? Is it because of the general lack of research material? Is it simply a matter of age? After all, it has had nine years to circulate. Most people with misophonia have heard of it, and many have used it as a guide. Or is it a matter of how very much people like self-tests? Whatever the reasons are, we have to ask if the Misophonia Activation Scale is useful. Does it provide a scientific or medically-verified method of measuring any aspect of misophonia? I believe the answer is no.
Has the scale helped people? It was the first and only tool we had for quite a long while. It may very well have helped people make self-assessments. It also boosted general awareness of this condition. However, if it isn’t a valid tool, then it’s time for it to retire. Research needs to receive enough support to develop an official diagnosis, universally effective treatments, and yes, a new self-test!