IAN:

magine a high-pitched rushing sound, "like gushing water, but somehow sharper", seemingly radiating out from the very centre of your head - a sound which can never be escaped, which is intensified by the background rumble of traffic, by that utterly bland 'mood music' in shops and restaurants, by the bubbling of social chat at a party.

Ian lives with it every single day and night of his life.

Tinnitus can quite literally drive some people insane, whereupon such drastic measures as surgical implants are called for. Ian has endured the incessant noise in his head for thirty-five years. A member of the British Tinnitus Association, he has travelled the world and spent not an inconsiderable fortune in search of help. Specialists as far apart as the Far East and Harley Street all ultimately seem to offer the same sagacious advice: "You will just have to learn to live with it".

Ian was not prepared to accept defeat - "I am the sort of person who believes there is answer to most things, if you are willing to look hard enough".

There are four principle causes of tinnitus:

Early antibiotics

Ear infections

Blows to the head

Exposure to loud noises

Over the years, Ian has managed the full quota!

Back in the '60s, he used to suffer severe sinusitis, so his doctor saw fit to administer powerful antibiotic injections in his buttocks every day for a month, but to no avail. It was not until he tried Yoga Breathing that, within hours, his sinuses cleared.

As an avid water-skier in the waters around Hong Kong, Ian has been in and out of the sea on innumerable occasions. Subsequent ear and eye infections have been common - "and some of the falls, especially on the jumps, have resulted in massive slams to my head, bad enough to have left me, once, with cracked ribs!".

During his years in the army, Ian worked with Personal Infantry Anti-Tank guns - "enormous monsters, fired from the shoulder, with no mufflers of any sort in those days - the potential damage did not seem to occur to anyone. So, as you can imagine, as Weapons Training Officer, with the addition of grenades going off here, there and everywhere, I was exposed to plenty of 'loud noises' indeed! For this reason alone, considering the number of soldiers who would have worked in similar situations, it seems little surprise to me that an estimated twenty percent of the population suffer with tinnitus. I cannot help but wonder at the potential tinnitus sufferers developing amongst the younger generation, who go around blasting their delicate ear-parts with the most dangerous volumes of music, on their Walkmans and in their cars".

Ian first became aware of a problem back in the 60s, when his wife complained of the noise the new Rediffusion Television made even when it was turned off - it suddenly struck him that he could not hear a thing - "my own 'noise' had been developing so gradually that I had not noticed its arrival. I was later to discover that my ears had 'shut down' the frequencies around the tinnitus in an attempt to block it out".

Over the years, the tinnitus worsened until it became that constant 'gushing sound' roaring inside his skull - "but it was not just the noise, it was the sheer frustration of it. I found myself incapable of distinguishing different voices when a group was talking around me, and I actually began to suffer pain when there was any background noise. I am forced to avoid any public place - shops, restaurants, lifts, gyms - where that depressingly all-pervasive musak is piped through. And if there was an increase of volume outside me, then the tinnitus increased as though to match it."

It was a friend of a friend, a singer, who first mentioned her excitement at the results of Listening Therapy and brought Ian's attention to the Professor's work. He sent for the clinic's literature, read Tomatis' autobiography 'The Conscious Ear' and Paul Madaule's 'When Listening Comes Alive' about the use of the Listening Therapy at the Listening Centre in Toronto. Ian was intrigued.

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Ian had his initial consultation with the Professor himself in Paris and was most impressed that he was not promised a cure, but rather a twenty percent improvement in his hearing.

He has now completed his three-session course of treatment.

"I have to say that after over thirty years of tinnitus and well-meaning but ineffective 'specialists', the changes I have experienced since the Listening Therapy have been nothing short of remarkable," Ian beams.

"The tinnitus may not have gone, but it certainly has diminished in volume, which has made me so much less irritable, and therefore far more sociable - imperative in my line of business. Even friends have remarked that there has been a marked improvement in my temperament. I am so much more tolerant and not nearly as ratty, through sheer frustration, as I used to be.

"A lot of people have also remarked upon the fact that I no longer turn my right ear in order to try to focus on a sound or a voice, which used to be a very characteristic, but necessary, habit.

"The other day I was at a buffet luncheon, standing in the queue, when a friend of mine, further ahead of me said, 'I tried to phone you yesterday, but couldn't get hold of you'. 'No', I replied, 'I wasn't in the office', whereupon I realised he was not talking to me, but to the man next to him. This may not sound like much to you, but for me it was extraordinary - I had been able to hear what he said in a noisy room, across other people's conversations, and he was standing a distance away from me. Things like that are really quite striking and would have been quite impossible before.

"Again, I must use the word remarkable to describe what the Listening Therapy has done for me and cannot stress enough how under-supplied the English-speaking world is in literature and information on the extraordinary work which is being undertaken around the world using the Listening Therapy. I can only hope that all that will change in the coming years".