Psychological Aspects of Hearing Loss
The Gradual Effect
People who become hard of hearing usually don’t want to admit it. It is synonymous with getting old and no one wants to own up to that. Loss of hearing has an eroding effect on the personality, which happens gradually as the hearing loss increases.
The sufferer may not notice this gradual change or will just bear it as a part of growing old when in fact a hearing aid would make a world of a difference.
Estimations show that of nearly all the people who are in this early stage of hearing loss, very few have not sought help professional help about their problem.
They increase the loudness of the television, sit closer to the speaker at meetings, and dismiss statements as “not important”.
They have innocently started to live a lie
This is caused by people pointing out in a harsh or unkind way that there’s something wrong. The female voice of a friend or relative will shout: “You can’t hear me yet you can hear your friends.”
She doesn’t understand that the sufferer can hear men’s low voices but not high-pitched women’s voices.
And the blunt statement: “Do something, you’re going deaf.” is baffling because in most situations the sufferer’s hearing is adequate.
“You’re shouting.” this is followed by “Now you are whispering.” People with a hearing loss cannot hear their own voice, the way normal people can.
Strain in listening to people coupled with an increase in concentration means the sufferer is irritable at the end of the day.
The effort for a hard of hearing person to stay in effective communication with people requires tremendous physical and emotional energy beyond that required normally by a hearing person. This causes intense stress and starts off a personality change.
Once a person has difficulty in communication by talking to other people then that path of communication breaks down.
Isolation sets in – the feeling of being alone even in the middle of a crowd of people, who are making jumbled sounds and so loud that the sufferer will not talk because any reply to his or her remark will simply not be understood. Every day there is a problem with people:
on the street
in the market
on the phone
at the theatre.
We could increase the list ad infinitum
Every day is a fresh reason for anxiety. Failure is always imminent
Anger and resentment may be repressed or expressed in anti-social behaviour.
Tension and anxiety contribute to fatigue that further stops communication.
Other People Don’t Help
A disabled person e.g. a blind man or woman, will often receive kindness and understanding from the public. However unless the hard of hearing person tells someone of his or her disability then that person looks normal and is therefore treated as a normal individual by the public.
The inability of people to project their voices and the unwillingness of many hearing people to make a special effort, to spend the extra time, make hearing impaired people feel nervous about carrying out the everyday functions of life.
The result is that the hard of hearing person tries the patience of friends.
They stay at home more often and become more withdrawn.
The unaccustomed isolation leads to depression. The isolation is blamed on everybody else.
They feel left out, suspicious, lonely, isolated, uninteresting, devalued and depressed.
And yet so many people will not use a hearing aid. Conceit, the equation with getting old, even though a modern hearing aid can be hidden inside the ear.