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“What? I can’t hear you!”

Does your wife frequently complain that you don’t listen to her? One of the most common problems in relationships of people over fifty, according to Sound Therapy specialist, Rafaele Joudry (BSW MSc Psych) is that one partner has difficulty in hearing what the other is saying. Most often, women complain that their husbands cannot hear them, or perhaps don’t want to. There are several possible reasons for this, explains Rafaele, who lectures to many Probus, Rotary and AIR groups.

One reason is that the man may be deaf in certain frequencies, and those may be the exact frequencies in which his wife is speaking. Many men have suffered industrial or military hearing damage and deafness usually occurs in the high frequencies first. Women have higher frequency voices and this accounts for the gender specificity of this problem. In other cases, Rafaele explains, the problem may be one of selective listening, where the dynamics in the relationship, perhaps a power struggle or nagging have led to one partner just not paying attention. Another possible cause is the “Cocktail Party Syndrome” where laziness of the middle ear muscles makes it hard for the person to decipher conversations when there is background noise. Rafaele’s mother suffered from this condition, and this led them to explore Sound Therapy, which completely solved her problem.

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Sound Therapy was developed by the French ear specialist, Dr Alfred Tomatis, over the course of his life work from the 1950s to the 1990s. His theory of how the ear works is quite unique and offers an understanding that the ear, while it can be damaged by noise, can also be healed by the right sort of sound.

The ear is more complex and less well understood than any of our other major sense organs. No scientist can explain how it is possible for the extraordinary range of sound vibrations which hit our eardrum simultaneously in a noisy environment, such as a café, to be sorted, measured, located and interpreted by the ear.

Sound Therapy uses classical music specially filtered by a method devised by Doctor Tomatis, so that it exercises and stimulates the ear. As well as improving hearing it also helps tinnitus (ringing in the ears), energy and stress levels.

The ear never sleeps
Through its two crucial roles of hearing and balance, the ear is the means by which we know our environment, what is out there, and where we are in the environment. Unlike our other senses, the ear never sleeps. Thanks to the vestibular labyrinth, as soon as we wake up we know which way we are lying. We are immediately oriented in space.

Brain waves
The ear also plays a crucial role in our inner harmony and our overall brain states. Neurologists agree that alpha rhythms are primarily an ear state. Dr Lozanov, the Bulgarian psychiatrist who invented Superlearning (the springboard for accelerated learning) discovered the powerful impact of slow baroque music (60 beats per minute) to put body and brain into a harmonious rhythm and Alpha state.

There are three times as many nerve connections between the ear and the brain as between the eye and the brain. While the eye is the most obvious and dominant sense, it does not have such a deep, primeval role in our being and our relations with others. The ear is the only primary sense organ which registers at all three levels of the brain: the brain stem, mid brain and the cortex. In our evolution, hearing was essential to our survival, for we can hear in the dark. We can hear what is not seen.

Noise
While the ear serves us with uninterrupted vigilance, we unfortunately abuse our ears as though there was no tomorrow. Our world grows noisier by the minute, and while industrial noise is now being brought under some control, recreational sound is being used by younger people to do irreparable damage to their ears, and who can stop them? It is as though we are afraid to hear and will take this to the ultimate extreme of making ourselves deaf. Frightening statistics show that the death rate among people living around Los Angeles airport is about 20 per cent higher than in the rest of the city. There are also 31 per cent more psychiatric cases and 14 percent more liver diseases. Children suffer from high blood pressure and have greater difficulty than their peers elsewhere in coping with mathematics, solving simple problems or even doing jigsaws.

As early as 1976 nearly a third of all vocational ailments were caused by noise. Noise is thus the most dangerous illness in the world of work. Not only do we feel it, but our organs feel it and become ill.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is one of the worst afflictions resulting from ear damage and has caused a great many musicians to change careers. The word, ‘tinnitus’ describes the symptom of either continuous or intermittent noise in the ears which is only heard subjectively but not by others. The noise may be anything ranging from ringing, buzzing, rushing, roaring, to beating, clanging or crashing. The most common sound is similar to the noise of cicadas.

The Electronic Ear
Sound Therapy uses classical music filtered through Dr Tomatis’s invention, the Electronic Ear, which alters the frequencies of the music so as to have a gymnastic impact on the middle ear muscles (hammer muscle and stirrup muscle). The low frequencies are progressively removed from the music to retrain the ear to reach for the high sounds. Alternating channels of high and low sound cause constant fluctuations, making the muscles repeatedly contract and relax. As the ear opens to sounds it had forgotten how to admit, the hair cells in the inner ear are stimulated and the cortex of the brain finally fed with the sounds that it needs to reach its full potential. These, according to Dr Tomatis, are the sounds above 8,000 Hz. As long as they are quiet, high frequency sounds will not harm the ear, but in fact serve to keep the cortex stimulated. It is the dearth of these sounds in our environment today, says Tomatis that causes the extreme fatigue, sleeplessness, discord and proliferation of learning disorders in the young. The use of classical music is a vital part of the therapy for it is the complex rhythms and natural harmonies of this sound which not only stimulate, but harmonise the entire nervous system.

Rafaele Joudry’s best selling book: “Sound Therapy: Music to Recharge Your Brain” is available in good bookstores or from Sound Therapy International on 1300 55 77 96.

Sound Therapy International also provides free speakers to groups in most cities, availability permitting. Contact us for details.

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