“This is our problem and not theirs.”

“We can’t expect the world to tiptoe around us.”

We read or are told this often. But what does it mean? Do people with misophonia think that misophonia is a societal disorder? Of course not. All people with misophonia recognize that the disorder affects individuals.

But as a society, we make accommodations for people with disabilities or who are disadvantaged all the time. A lot of the accommodations we make have legal protections, and that seems appropriate.

Precisely what is the “misophonia is our problem, not theirs” viewpoint? Is it a helpful, self-empowering suggestion? (take personal responsibility for your welfare) Or is it an admonishment? (don’t expect the world to cater to your individual needs)

In the case of being an empowering message, there can be value in supporting people to be independent and effectively manage their affairs. But where is the line between society-approved protection and individual responsibility?

Is misophonia not important to society? Why would that be the case? Should being sanctioned by the medical community (inclusion in the DSM5) be the only reason we make accommodations?

Generally, we disapprove of discrimination against people for several legitimate reasons. So I don’t think we need to legislate courtesy or have a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for How to Live Together Pleasantly to get along. We manage to function well enough (not perfectly) using complex, ever-changing societal norms that we collectively develop. For the most part, this system works.

On the other hand, when discussing the “don’t be entitled” aspect, how do we determine what is reasonable to expect from others, and what portion of coping with a disorder is the sole responsibility of the individual? We’ve made decisions about those matters with other disorders, so there are guideposts to follow if we choose to begin the task of sorting it all out.

Manners and common courtesy are worth mentioning. We don’t expect people to purposely flash blinking lights in front of people with epilepsy or offer people food that are known allergens to them. So, to what degree (if any) should we expect people to curtail activities known to trigger others? Is there room for empathy and compassion in society, or is it just survival of the fittest?

We’ve read posts that say that you can’t ask a person with depression to “just get over it” or ask a person with epilepsy to  “snap out of it.” Those statements are true; most people recognize that neurological and medically-sanctioned illnesses are real. We don’t blame people for having seizures or autism. But mental health issues and under-researched/misunderstood disorders don’t enjoy the same level of approval. What’s the tipping point?

When a significant number of people report sharing a problematic phenomenon and researchers name it, study it, and people develop support groups for it, etc. when do we, as a society, begin to pay attention? At what point are reasonable accommodations warranted and acceptable?

It seems that we have more questions about this issue than answers. And in the misophonia support group, we find both sides of the issue discussed often. While some people are adamant about owning the problem, others promote reasonable accommodation. Are these two options exclusive of each other, and more importantly, are these the only two choices we have?