Hearing Loss and Relationships
Those who interact with the hearing-impaired person will often remark, “he doesn’t pay attention”, or “she ignores me”. Interpersonal relationships become more and more strained as the hearing impaired individual becomes the butt of jokes or the focus of anger.
This is the environment in which this person is required to function. Psychologically they are hurt. There are five distinct personality characteristics of the hearing-impaired person.
PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTIC 1: WITHDRAWAL
The easiest way to deal with the psychological hurt is to simply not expose ourselves to situations in which we may continue to be vulnerable. The hearing-impaired person begins to withdraw from society, even situations which previously may have been the focal point of their social interaction.
For example, an individual who has been an active, participating lodge member may find it increasingly difficult to communicate at meetings. They will gradually begin to attend meetings less frequently, eventually not at all.
PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTIC 2: HOSTILITY
Other family members will notice personality changes in the hearing-impaired individual. They may comment that this person is “grouchy”, or has become “difficult to get along with”. Hostility may develop.
The hearing-impaired person becomes less tolerant of others as a result of hearing these kinds of comments over and over again. Further, people tend to raise their voices when speaking. When they talk louder, we often look and sound angry. The hearing-impaired individual will perceive our communications as if it’s projecting anger and hostility.
PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTIC 3: SUSPICION
Unable to trust their own ability to hear and understand what is being said, the hearing-impaired person becomes suspicious. They may become suspicious of others, often to a point where he will believe that people are talking about him rather than communicating with him. The hearing-impaired person may even question whether or not others really want to be with them at all.
Because of this inability to hear clearly, the person may find that they are less able to depend upon that information as accurate. Cautiously, they begin to seek other avenues for information and assurance.
PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTIC 4: INDECISION
Lack of confidence results in a lack of ability to accurately evaluate and make decisions about many things. The hearing-impaired person turns decisions over to someone else, often the person who has been, in his mind, the most trustworthy. It is not uncommon that we see a spouse, son or daughter as the influential person when the hearing-impaired person purchases a car, clothes or furniture.
PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTIC 5: SENSITIVITY TO INTENT
You’ll notice that the hearing-impaired person will watch you with a great deal of concentration. Their powers of observations are more than lip reading. The hearing-impaired person has learned to read facial expression, body language and content of speech. These are his “visual cues” that will help them to perceive and make a decision regarding intent, your intent.
This is not to say that the hearing-impaired person is a better judge of character, only that they rely very strongly on their developed ability to assess others motives.
The hearing-impaired person trusts their own ability to recognize individuals who are sincerely interested in their welfare.
Normal Hearing vs. Hearing Loss:
This is how a person with normal hearing, “hears” compared to how someone with untreated sensory- neural hearing loss, “hears” something:
NORMAL HEARING PERSON
Lower –pitched sounds, which are the vowel sounds of words, give words their power. The higher pitched sounds, which are consonants; give words their clarity. If you are experiencing nerve damage, the most common type of hearing loss, you hear the lower pitched vowels louder than the higher pitched consonants. Speech is distorted so you hear but you do not understand.
PERSON WITH UNTREATED SENSORI – NEURAL HEARING LOSS
The letters in bold are what a person with untreated sensory – neural does not hear in the below conversation
LOWER-PITCHED SOUNDS, OR VOWELS, GIVE WORDS THEIR POWER. The higher-pitched sounds, consonants give words their clarity. If you are experiencing nerve damage, the most common type of hearing loss, you hear the lower –pitched vowels louder than the higher –pitched consonants. Speech is distorted so you can hear but cannot understand.
The following is another example of a conversation between a wife and her husband who has a sensory-neural hearing loss:
Wife– “Honey, are you thirsty”?
Husband– “No. Tomorrow is Friday”.
As you can see, the husband can hear but has difficulty making out the words. This leads to frustration to both husband and wife.
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