Please help my overactive startle reflex
December 9, 2008 6:20 PM   Subscribe

De-sensitize me! I have an over-active startle reflex when it comes to random loud noises. Are there any websites about that would play random loud noises at random intervals so that I can condition myself?

Think gunshots and metal dropping onto metal, not loud music. I am trying to adjust to sounds that I don't encounter on a regular basis, but startle me. Thank you.
posted by kamikazegopher to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Might it help for you to put on, say, a music CD that has sudden loud obnoxious noises on it? The cast recording of Assassins is the first thing that pops into my mind--if you had that on in the background while you were making dinner or something, you'd hear a number of gunshots and similar noises without warning.
posted by backtotherain at 7:03 PM on December 9, 2008

Video websites (think has hundreds/thousands of childish videos of something innocent/cute/interesting which you are supposed to be fascinated by and then the video/sound turns to usually a horrific face and a scream. (I'll see if I can link to a few later).

Get a batch of these and line them up in a repeating playlist. Set it playing w volume turned up. You'll have minutes of near silence interrupted by randomish screams and other noises.
posted by Xhris at 7:14 PM on December 9, 2008

Best answer: Per Xhris' suggestion, maybe give this game (Scroll down) or this a try. Turn your speakers up.

I think it goes without saying that somewhere along the lines, both of those pages will make you jump. Probably very high.
posted by niles at 7:24 PM on December 9, 2008

While writing papers late into the night, I would often play Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. It was perfect because 1) it's great, 2) it has parts that fade into the background so I could get some work done without being distracted and, most importantly, 3) it's got jarring parts that would totally jolt me back awake when I started to doze off. Unless you're really familiar with it, the loud parts can be pretty unpredictable.
posted by phunniemee at 7:34 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Startling easily and frequently is a symptom of anxiety disorder (and possibly other issues; I simply know it is related to AD). SSSRIs and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are the prescribed solution, if AD is the source.

Just another possibility.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:48 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I preface my comments with a strenuous IANAD, but a startle reflex is just that-- a reflex. More or less effective ways to reduce your startle reaction are self-hypnotism and deep relaxation techniques. There are many resources available on the web to teach yourself, some less kooky than others. They all take time to master but are empowering all the same.

If your startle feeling interferes with your daily life, however, I suggest that you consult a neurologist. I always knew I was easily startled and thought nothing of it. But after a seemingly unrelated injury a small army of Ivy-League specialists did nothing to alleviate, I saw a neurologist who linked my condition to a rare form of a startle disease.

Finally, I want to stress that I am not suggesting you have any medical problem to worry about. Think of me as speaking as one easily startled person to another. In that capacity, I suggest self-hypnotism and deep relaxation techniques. They can work wonders.
posted by vincele at 7:53 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I had this problem when I was younger. Then, my brother went through a phase where he thought it was hilarious to jump out and yell at me unexpectedly. All. The. Time. It didn't take long before I was very desensitised to any kind of random loud noise. I still am, and that was about 15 years ago. Can you enlist the help of a friend?
posted by Emilyisnow at 8:24 PM on December 9, 2008

There are many resources available on the web to teach yourself, some less kooky than others.

vincele, any chance of some personal recommendations?
posted by Not Supplied at 9:11 AM on December 10, 2008

Do you drink a lot of caffeine? If so, cutting it out can help a lot.

I second what IAmBroom said - this is me, and Rx medication has helped a lot as well.
posted by at 11:25 AM on December 10, 2008

SSRIs and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are the prescribed solution, if AD is the source.

Correcting my typo, just in case someone is googling this. It's a class of drugs: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, which includes Xanax, Lexapro, and the famous Prozac.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:41 PM on December 10, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all for your answers, they are much appreciated. I've been trying a combination over the week. I have a long way to go, but thank you for the start!
posted by kamikazegopher at 7:12 PM on December 11, 2008

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