What Helen Keller Knew

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Oct 27, 2015

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Colorado - Colorado Springs

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Helen Keller, both a deaf and blind lady, upon being asked whether she considers vision or hearing more important, replied:

The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important, than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus--the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.

What Helen knew, and what popular thought has often overlooked, is that the human sense of hearing represents the primary cognitive window into life itself. Blindness cuts us off from things; deafness cuts us off from people to be cut off from hearing [people] is to be isolated indeed.

Indeed, to one who hears normally, it may seem a strange concept that one can stand amidst a room full of fellow beings engaged in excited conversation, bonding and enjoying each other's company and yet feel awkward and terribly alone.
In cases of rapid decline, sufferers sense a profound loss not unlike losing a close loved one. Such losses can evoke the same emotions of mourning denial, despair, frustration, and anger that transpire when they actually lose a loved one, but often without recognizing why they feel that way. Reports of sudden hearing loss repeatedly present an almost crippling form of emotional and psycho-social debilitation.

Gradual losses, which comprise perhaps 95% of cases, come over, say, 20-30 years, and bring feelings of depression, anxiety, hypertension, and cardiovascular & endocrine stress.
Coming back to the wisdom and insight of Helen Keller, in her advancing years she concluded in a letter to a friend that "after a lifetime in silence and darkness, to be deaf is a greater affliction than to be blind...Hearing is the soul of knowledge and information of a high order. To be cut off from hearing is to be isolated indeed."

Editor's note: This article was submitted by Dr. Max Chartrand of DigiCare Hearing Research & Rehabilitation. He can be reached at: www.digicarenet.com, 719-676-3277.

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