“I don’t want to hear this” – Tinnitus and hypnosis
© Jorgan Harris
1. What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a noise or a ringing sound in your ears. This can often have a high-pitched tone and can feel like you are going to go crazy. It’s a constant ringing that just won’t stop. It comes and goes, but increases with your stress levels. You have seen so many doctors and specialists and they tell you that nothing can be done, because some of the cilia in the ears have collapsed. It then feels like you are going mad and sometimes it appears that suicide is the only way to get rid of this noise in your head. No matter what you do – nothing helps. The doctors can’t help you.
2. Is there perhaps a psychological answer?
There is a very exciting field in the world of hypnosis – the field of Psycho Neuro Immunology (PNI). The basic principle of PNI is that any physical problem has a psychological origin and if the psychological causes behind the physical problems can be detected, it may be possible to heal it on a psychological level.
I am by no means trying to say that there is no place for medical sciences. On the contrary, medical sciences are much older than psychology and so much more advanced and I will always recommend the medical path as much as possible. But along with medical care, you can make use of some alternatives.
Keep the following in mind: you have a subconscious and conscious mind. Your conscious part is logical, rational and understands arguments and symbolism. However, the conscious mind does not understand emotions and feelings.
The subconscious is a different story. Sometimes I think about the difference between the conscious and the subconscious as an old-fashioned ship. The conscious is the captain on the deck and he can view the reality. The subconscious is the men that sit below deck and doing the rowing. They cannot see the reality and can only respond to messages from the captain. When the captain shouts that he sees an iceberg, the crew takes it literally, then panic and begin to cut back. The captain may have misjudged it with a layer of mist or may have confused it with an iceberg, or he may have just made a joke. The crew interpreted it literally and went into a panic.
It now becomes very interesting when you see what messages we give these men below sea level when they can’t see the reality. They are literally driving our behaviour.
Let your thoughts just go for a moment: It happens so often that someone tells me they cannot stay upright and that they have back problems. Or that they can’t move forward and they have problems with their feet or knees. In the paper that I presented in Krakow (Poland) on PNI and Auto-immune Diseases, I told the story of a woman that suffered from the extremely rare disease, Scleroderma. Scleroderma is a disease where your body produces too much collagen, so everything gets blocked. Your skin becomes thick, your arteries get clogged up and it can even block your tear glands as well as other glands. These patients cannot cry tears any more, skin is thickened and they eventually die because there is no medical cure for it. I once asked the woman on a subconscious symbolic level, if she was thick-skinned. After asking this question she told me her whole history and has shown how she had become thick-skinned. Feel free to read more about this on my website: jorganharris.co.za.
It may be that tinnitus prevents you from hearing something that you do not want to hear. Perhaps you were doing it when you were a child, which my sisters and I certainly did. When we did not want to hear the other person’s argument, we put our hands over our ears or started singing or talking loudly in order not to hear the other person’s argument or opinion.
What is it that you do not want to hear?
3. Three case studies
- Megan* is a teacher. Her class is disorganised and noisy. She finds it difficult to maintain discipline and as a result could not control her class. She could not tolerate the noise in her class. The turning point was when she could not control the noise anymore and became anxious. She shouted at her class in desperation. A child then attacked her with a knife and she was slightly wounded. Megan subsequently developed tinnitus. After that attack, Megan became traumatised and anxious.
- Britney* is a mother. Her son was being bullied at school by another child. She was also concerned that he was not doing well at school and that he would fail. One day she became so upset that she felt a fluttering while she was busy showering. She started screaming, crying and talking and her voice was echoing throughout the bathroom. The next moment she was finding herself sitting on the floor. The next day the screaming in her ears began and her anxiety levels just kept getting worse.
- Mary* has tinnitus. Her mother had died about a year ago- and it was around that time that Mary started getting tinnitus. Her mother lived with her. Since her mother’s death she had become anxious and was struggling to fall asleep as she feared that someone might break into the house. Mary’s tinnitus, however, had started before her mother’s death. There were three very traumatic events around that time. Shortly before her death, Mary’s mother phoned her and she heard her gasping for breath and begging her to help her. Mary could not get the memories of her mother’s desperate pleas for help over the phone, out of her head. Later, the hospital phoned to say her mother was in intensive care and shortly thereafter she received a call informing her that her mother had died.
What are the similarities between these three case studies?
- In all three cases they heard that something that caused them great stress.
- In all three cases, what they had heard, caused a feeling of powerlessness.
- Anxiety was observed in all three cases and the tinnitus then worsened when their anxiety increased.
- In all three cases, there were efforts made to put out of their minds what they had heard.
It’s almost as if the subconscious mind is trying to replace traumatic messages with a noise so that these words can’t continue to ruminate in their mind, as we did as children – by making a noise claiming to not hear the other one. Tinnitus sufferers unconscious-ly do the same in order to prevent hearing the intense negative messages. Tinnitus also forces you to shift your attention to your own inner voice and to pay attention to what you really feel and to what is happening in your life.
After treatment, the tinnitus in all three cases had drastically decreased or even disappeared. Treatment with hypnosis includes the following:
- Attempts are made to desensitise the person from the negative that they heard – to help the person find peace with what has happened.
- The person’s anxiety is addressed.
- We work with the person’s sense of helplessness and change it into a sense of empowerment.
- The person gets helped to hear his or her inner voice and to get in touch with their feelings and to reframe these messages (to understand it differently).
4. Milton Erickson’s observation
It is still amazing to realise how powerful your subconscious is. Just as your subconscious can cause problems, so your subconscious can help you to overcome it. Everybody is able to change and adjust. The father of modern hypnosis, Milton Erickson, spotted this principle beautifully. He, as an inquisitive student, one day passed a factory where boilers were being manufactured. The day he entered the factory, the noise was deafening. He could not hear a word that people were saying. Yet, the people who work there were able to talk and could hear each other. He could not understand that. He then went and spoke to the manager of the factory and asked if he could sleep in the factory that night. The surprised manager gave him permission and Erickson then slept the night in the noise. The next morning when the workers returned to work, he was able hear every word they said.
Once you start to relax into the noise that is when you will then be able to hear what other people and your inner voice is really saying to you. When you pass beyond the noise, is when the noise will stop.
* Not their real names