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The Grinch Misunderstood

Growing up one of my favorite Christmas stories and TV specials was How The Grinch Who Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss. There was always something about the Grinch that loved. Maybe it was his cute dog, his mischievous spirit, or the whole redemption story angle thing. Now reading it as an adult for the one-millionth […]

Growing up one of my favorite Christmas stories and TV specials was How The Grinch Who Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss. There was always something about the Grinch that loved. Maybe it was his cute dog, his mischievous spirit, or the whole redemption story angle thing.

Now reading it as an adult for the one-millionth time I think I realize why loved the Grinch so much. I think it is because the Grinch was wildly misunderstood. You see, I believe that many of the Grinch’s actions can be explained by the fact that he suffered from a rare neurological disorder called misophonia.

What is misophonia? Misophonia is “a condition characterized by extreme sensitivity and reactivity to specific, typically repetitive and relatively soft sounds, as breathing, chewing, swallowing, clicking, etc.” Those that suffer from misophonia are caused extreme pain when they hear certain sounds.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the evidence.

The classic Dr. Seuss story begins, “Every Who Down in Who-ville Like Christmas a lot… But the Grinch, Who lived just north of Who-vill, Did NOT!”

From the opening statement, we see that the Grinch lives as a recluse.

People who suffer from misophonia often retreat from others, even those that they love, because they have trouble dealing with the pain that is caused by specific noises that they hear. I can identify with the Grinch here. There are times when my family and I are sitting down to watch a show together and I have to leave the room until everyone around me is done eating.

Still not sure? Let’s look at more evidence from the story.

“Whatever the reason, His heart of his shoes, He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos, Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown.”

Dr. Seuss paints a picture of mystery as to why the Grinch hated the Whos. I believe the answer can be found on the very next page of the story.

“…All the Who girls and boys Would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their toys! And then! The noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That’s the one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!”

What did the Grinch really hate? It was the NOISE!

It could not be more clear that the Grinch suffered from misophonia. He was wildly misunderstood as are all who suffer from misophonia.

The reason I love the Grinch so much is that I identify with his suffering when it comes to handling difficult noises. I retreat when I can’t handle certain noises. I feel pain and at times anger when I can’t handle certain noises. To be clear I, and others with misophonia, do not hate the person making the noise but rather the noise itself. This is a very important distinction.

People who live with misophonia are often misunderstood and viewed as odd, intolerant, rude, or flat-out jerks. These characterizations are wildly off base in most instances.

If you know or love someone with misophonia show them grace. Their behaviors are explainable by a real neurological disorder. They are not being rude when they retreat, cover their ears, or even flinch in pain. They are responding to the harsh stimuli that pains them in the only ways they know how. It may seem odd to you, but it is very real to them.

So next time you read or watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas maybe you will be a bit more compassionate toward the Grinch. And maybe the next time you interact with someone who you suspect lives with misophonia you will be more compassionate towards them too.

If you want to read further on misophonia check out WebMD's article here.


https://www.dictionary.com/browse/misophonia

How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss, Random House Publishing, New York, 1957

How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss, Random House Publishing, New York, 1957

How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss, Random House Publishing, New York, 1957

Originally posted December 2, 2022

About Ryan Wolfe:

It is Ryan's passion to equip and empower churches, organizations, and individuals to reach their disability communities for Jesus. Ryan comes to Ability Ministry with 15+ years of ministry experience. He previously worked at First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio as their full-time Disability Pastor. He also worked as a Church Consultant for Key Ministry. Micah 6:8 and Proverbs 31:8 best describe Ryan's commitment to life and ministry.
Read more by Ryan Wolfe

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