Imagine a world identical to our own with one exception: everyone is deaf. There is no radio, and television remains a silent movie. Telephone communication is visual, but beyond that the world is very much like our own. What would such a world be like?
Probably very noisy, since there would be no need for noise control and no regulations to limit noise. Car engines would still roar, perhaps louder than they do now, tires would squeal, birds would sing, and thunder would rumble across the sky, but we would not be able to hear any of this.
Now, imagine that some people in this world can hear. They don’t realize they are any different except in a few subtle ways. They can predict the coming of storms. They claim to “hear” thunder at a distance. They have difficulty sleeping. In the middle of the night, they hear roaring engines, squealing tires, horns blaring and other things that are silent to the rest of us. Because of their poor sleep, they are tired during the day. They become anxious and worried. The noise frightens them, but only they can hear it so they begin to question their sanity.
One sufferer, John, confides in a friend who is sympathetic and tells him to visit his family doctor. But the doctor doesn’t know what to make of this. The sleeping pills and tranquilizers she prescribes don’t stop the noise during the day. Another, less sympathetic doctor recommends a psychiatrist for mental problems. But John doesn’t think he’s crazy, or is he?
Swan Hill, Victoria,
City of Hawkesbury, Australia
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