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
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:
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
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 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.
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
"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
"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".