Fear, Tinnitus, & Habituation

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by Dr. Charlie, Nov 24, 2014.

    1. Dr. Charlie

      Dr. Charlie Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      I will add my personal story later. Meanwhile, here is an article I wrote on the subject of habituation.:

      Tinnitus and Fear

      By Charles Smithdeal | Submitted On October 05, 2011

      Millions of adults worldwide experience tinnitus. Of these, approximately 25% suffer greatly from it. Why? Or just as importantly, how do 75% of the people with tinnitus not suffer from it? How can one person seem to simply ignore the noise inside his or her head, while another finds it nearly impossible to carry on a normal existence?

      What do you suppose is a typical reaction when someone develops tinnitus? Let's say you're going along nicely, with no big problems in your life, and then, one day-your ears suddenly begin to ring. Perhaps the noise is rather faint at first, and then grows louder Why? What's going on? When this strange noise persists for a few hours or days, you become really concerned. Oh my God-am I about to go deaf? Do I have high blood pressure? A brain tumor? Am I having a stroke? What's going on in my head? Why won't this noise stop?

      This is fear, my friend. And it builds upon itself. The more you focus on the noise, and the more frightened you become, the louder and more intrusive the noise becomes.

      A visit to your primary care doctor brings no relief. Without a satisfactory explanation, s/he refers you to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. Once you finally get an appointment, and after a thorough examination and numerous tests, you're told that there's no obvious reason for the noise in your head, and no treatment. Perhaps you have a slight hearing loss from being around loud noise sometime in the past. Maybe that's the cause.

      What? This makes no sense. There must be a better explanation. You say that you were exposed to loud noise in your work many years ago. Why did the noise start last week? Surely there is something we can do to stop this noise. "Sorry," you're told. "That's the way it is. You'll simply have to learn to live with it."

      How do you think you would feel? Frustrated, perhaps? Angry? Afraid? Desperate? You may not realize it, but each of these emotions represents fear. Each response floods your system with adrenalin-the fear hormone. And each manifestation of fear makes your tinnitus impossible to ignore.

      Returning to my original question regarding the 75% of individuals with tinnitus who do not suffer from it-these people automatically habituate the noise inside their heads. Habituate means to automatically grow accustomed to and consciously ignore a recurring stimulus. Just as you might ignore the noise of a refrigerator's motor in your kitchen, or the sound of an overhead fan in your office, your mind will ignore any recurring stimulus that it considers non-threatening and unworthy of your conscious attention..

      A stimulus that causes a fear response, however, becomes impossible to ignore, and this includes ringing in the ears. This protective response is hard-wired into the primitive part of your brain-the limbic system. For example, if you were crossing a busy city street, could you ignore the sound of screeching tires advancing rapidly toward you? Obviously not. But what if you crossed at that same intersection every day for several months, and learned that the sound of screeching tires came from a recording at a brake shop on one corner. It's an advertising promotion for their services. If you were crossing at that same intersection several weeks later, while having a heated conversation with someone, might you be totally unaware of the recorded sound?

      The causes of tinnitus are many. Tinnitus treatment exists, but there is no tinnitus miracle cure. Understanding the relationship between fear and the noise of tinnitus provides a firm basis to eliminate the suffering from tinnitus.

      Visit___ for the latest information about relief from tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hyperacusis (sensitivity to loud sounds.) Dr Charles Smithdeal MD, FACS is a former sufferer from tinnitus and hyperacusis and a board certified Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose & Throat specialist.)

      (I removed the links from the above article, since they lead to a site promoting a product.)

      Dr Charlie
      Charles Smithdeal MD, FACS (ret)
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    2. Sound Wave

      Sound Wave Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably headphones
      VERY well said. I remember one person wrote here that he started to listen to his T daily. In the beginning it was difficult and he was afraid and in agony. But then he learned to be more calm about it and just accept the T. After that he started to explore his T sounds in more detail with a curious approach. Eventually he was not afraid of it anymore and it helped him to habituate.

      He didn't mention mediation / mindfulness once, but to me this was his approach. I haven't gone this far. Yet.

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