Paul Tabachneck is thirty-nine years old. He's from Pittsburgh but lives in the Bronx now. Works as an IT guy at a ballet school. Son of two professors. Engaged to a social worker named Ana. He is intelligent and funny.

Also: he can't fking bear the sound of chewing. Not in the way that some of us dislike audible mastication. No, for Tabachneck, the sound of someone else chewing makes him go berserk. He can't think. He seizes up. He even feels compelled to violent thoughts (although never actions).

Tabachneck is one of a growing number of people who say they have an unusual sound sensitivity disorder—not yet included in the DSM—most often called "misophonia." Though its name translates to "hatred of sound," the disorder is typically characterized by a specific and extreme aversion to everyday, low-volume noises: slurping, clicking, sniffing. These sounds, to Tabachneck and others, are like aural wasp stings: they provoke an immediate and painful physical reaction. Tabachneck first sensed he might have a sensitivity to certain sounds when he was about fourteen or fifteen. He tried to explain, but many people—doctors, psychiatrists, friends and family—simply blamed him. Since then, it's affected how he relates to people and goes about each day of his life.

He is also, despite all this, a musician. And today, he released a song about this strange and little-understood condition—the first ever, as far as we know—on his new folk-pop record Two People Made This Mess. It's available for download on iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp. Here, Tabachneck talks, in his own words, about making music while "hating" certain sounds.

I was with a girl once, and we were getting along great until brunch one day. We're waiting for a table in the lobby, and there's a gumball machine. She's like, Come on, I want a gumball. So I give her a quarter, and she gets the gumball, and she starts chewing. Then it began. You get this little ball of anxiety in your chest and you try to steel yourself, gird your impulse. Part of you thinks, Maybe she pops the gum and this time it's okay. Maybe this is the one person who pops their gum and I'll be okay with it. The gum popped and my brain went haywire. The relationship lasted maybe a week and a half after that.

I couldn't really find a way to compel my parents to do anything about it. I would say, It's painful to me when this is happening. Similar to the way you go into dental surgery and you have to figure out the difference between pain and pressure in a tooth. With these sounds, I had to figure out the difference between pain and anger, pain and tension. 

My dad would go absolutely berserk when he'd see me react to him scraping his ice cream bowl. People have defensive reactions. They think you're telling them that they are doing something wrong. My dad would get defensive: I'm not trying to do any harm to you. Why don't you fucking deal with it, phase it out?

My mother, who has a PhD in cognitive psychology, eventually took me to an audiologist to figure out if I had abnormal hearing. They ran the tests and the doctors said, He's perfectly normal, except for perfect pitch. So my parents were like, It's in your head, kid. But the psychological effect still hung around.

You're looking to find who cracked their knuckles. Always looking around. And this never ends, because your brain reverts to this optimism that if it can find the sound and understand where it's coming from, it can eventually phase it out. But it won't. It won't. It will never stop. But that doesn't stop you.

I worked at a call center with a guy who brought in an old keyboard because he liked the sound of clicking keys. It was pure hell. 

I started writing "Misophone" maybe three and a half years ago, when I was dating another person who didn't understand. I thought if I could make her understand, I could make things work out. But I felt like I was complaining about my life in the song, and it was making me incredibly sad, so I shelved it. By that time, I had the first verse: I was thinking about my last live-in relationship and how we bought plastic plates to try and pretend the issue wasn't there. 

I had a conversation with someone who made the case that finishing the song might actually help lots of other people understand it. More importantly, it might help other misophones cope. I came up listening to stuff like Nirvana and Tori Amos, artists known for laying their threads bare. I thought, Okay, I could do this. 

I first performed it at a few open mics in New York. I told them a little bit about what misophonia was, what it meant to my life, and how every time I threw shade over a popped piece of gum or somebody crinkling a PBR can, this was why. Then I played the song. You could hear a pin drop. 

I wanted to build up the track on the new record, to see how far we could push this idea that for a misophone, sounds are coming from everywhere all the time. So you have one guitar that's like a sonar, three or four that do these constant two-steps that swirl around the listener, you have that awesome Hammond, you have choral harmonies towards the end, but at the end you just have the center of the song. There was an idea at one point to add a delay to the vocals, like real Bowie/Floyd-type stuff, but it was one yard too far.

The whole thing was a cathartic process, and I'm as proud of it as I am of anything I've ever done.

I'm still in my holding pattern with misophonia these days. I have my own office with a door, and Ana and I have a two-bedroom in an art deco building. I keep sound-dampening earplugs at the ready at all times, though, as well as noise-isolating Skullcandy earbuds. Especially for trains.