Back in the year 2000, someone pointed me in the direction of the Deaf Wannabe site on Yahoo… Eight years ago this group had a mere 30 people or so, not really big enough to take seriously, but now, in 2008, there’s 794 people subscribed. That’s an awful lot of sick people! For those that don’t know, this is a site for those that have a genuine interest in the following..
* Deaf Wannabe or *Deaf by Choice * Deaf Pretender or *Deaf Fetish * Hearing aid lover or *Hearing aid Fetish
Let’s examine each of the above criteria a little. They’re all sick, true, but each of them have repercussions that go much deeper when you start seriously thinking about them, and each of the criteria are linked, even though they look quite separate at first.
Deaf Wannabe/Deaf by Choice screams at me. It screams at the very core of me who so wholeheartedly would like to have normal hearing. I hate having to concentrate so hard to be able to hear what is going on in my life, 100% of the time. I would love to sit back and just have a relaxing conversation without having to intensely lip-read the whole time, and understand words the first time round without having to ask to repeat. But here’s a bunch of people who WANT to be deaf, and who write to the list a set of instructions on how they have done so, for others to follow suit. They call this process of going from hearing to hard of hearing, to deaf as ‘crossing over’, or ‘finding their nirvana’.
‘I liked the description of this posting from ‘xxxxx’. 'Finding my Nirvana' is a really good description of what we are seeking in developing a hearing loss and becoming deaf by choice. Having spent some time acquiring my hearing loss, I feel now that I am finding my Nirvana’. Deaf-Wannabe Nov 2000
‘One thing I want to make clear is that this is not a case of having 'fun with an experiment'. The 'experiment' stage took place over a long period of time. I simulated deafness in my left ear using cotton wool, and knew exactly where this would lead to. Consequently the results are not surprising, and I need very little time to acclimatise.
I have taken a long time to consider whether this was the right thing to do, and to think through all the implications. I'm still mid-20's and live a highly active social life with music and clubbing being an essential feature of my weekends. But deep down I have had an irrepressible need to develop a bilateral hearing loss. This is my Nirvana. I'm not deaf, but I am hard of hearing in both ears. For me it is good, and I think my hearing loss is probably just as much as I want it to be without it becoming a handicap or excessive. I don't want to become seriously deaf or isolated. I want to use hearing aids, and have the enjoyment of doing so and knowing I need them. As near as possible I want 'normal' hearing with my hearing aids. I've thought long and hard, done the planning, and taken it slowly. After all, you can't change your mind.’ Deaf Wannabe – 2000
These people are for real. My biggest problem with them is that they promote self harm by writing to the list ways that others can also do the same. I believe the site has created a lot of issue within the UK. The police were informed but any attempt to get Yahoo to close the site down has met with failure, due to the owners of the group lobbying that the self harm is justified under the same grounds as gay rights. I believe they don’t have the same grounds because it is abuse of some very vulnerable people.
‘I have lessened my hearing in one ear to about 50% over the years due to glue, wax, oil, cotton, foam, etc. But now, I want to be deaf. Totally. I hate sound. I want to be deaf. What's the quickest way total deafness that I can do myself?’
Deaf Wannabe 2004
‘I've used a combination of methods to develop my hearing loss; a.. I've induced immediate results by repeatedly perforating my eardrums b.. I use high intensity sound from a variety of sources to cause an immediate temporary loss. This eventually accumulates to create a longer term permanent loss. However, I restrict this since the effect of exposure to high levels of sound is accumulative and it causes continued very long term hearing loss which cannot be stopped. c.. I apply hydraulic pressure by squirting water into my ears with a plastic squeezy container whilst in the shower to stretch my eardrums d.. I press Q Tips hard against my eardrum to stretch and slacken it e.. I 'box' my ears by slapping hard with the palm of my hand - 20 hard slaps repeated 5 times in quick succession (this needs to be done knowing the risks associated with continually hitting the side of the head. I apply each of these processes several times each day, and continually monitor the results by checking known sound sources - I can no longer hear my watch tick - I check against frequencies, and against the level I need to set the TV or radio.’ Deaf Wannabe – 2000.
Let’s go on to the Deaf Pretenders. These people pretend to be deaf and seek help with how to ‘sound deaf’ or have a ‘deaf voice’. If they are asked how they went deaf, they’ll quote ‘meniere’s disease’. All this and with no real understanding on what it’s like to be deaf or what it’s like to have meneire’s disease either.
‘I'm curious if anyone else tries using a "deaf voice" when talking to new people. Also, what excuse do you use for your loss? I've used Meniere's Disease just because it justified late-onset loss and my non-knowledge of ASL, plus people don't seem toknow what it is and just accept the answer.’ Deaf Pretender 2005
‘Excited to be here...Thanks for telling me about this list. For those who don't know the story, I am a 38 year old male who wears BTE's on both ears as a result of a self-inflicted hearing loss as a youth. Although my hearing is pretty much corrected with the hearing aids, I like to carry on as a culturally "deaf" person. I have learned sign language, have a TTY in my house, and several deaf friends in the Denver area, some of which don't even realise I can speak. I do collect hearing aids, and especially enjoy wearing both BTE and body aids.’ ‘Deaf pretender/Deaf Fetish 2000
Carrying on as a culturally deaf person after purposely destroying his hearing? This person could be your friend or person you party with, and you wouldn't know. Should we feel flattered that people want to part of the Deaf community, so much so that they self harm, and become excellent actors, just to fit in?
Then there is the Hearing aid Lover/Hearing Aid Fetish. Now I find this really strange because I couldn’t wait to get rid of my hearing aids once I had a Cochlear Implant and no longer needed one. The moulds in your ears are horrible, my ears itched for 20 years as I was allergic to the materials that the moulds were made from. The itchiness caused infections. The sound quality was poor, sometimes non-existent. They whistled. I’m sure you can all relate to this – so WHY do people find them sex objects????
‘And my Saturday afternoon in town finished on a really good note too. I was about to walk past an unusually attractive girl with long honey blonde hair, and as I did so the breeze blew her hair just enough to catch a glimpse of her ear, and for that split second moment I thought I saw the shine of the earmould a BTE hearing aid. I kinda melted, and couldn't resist turning back to see if I had imagined this. As she slowed to look in a shop window the breeze blew again as I passed and I could see that she was wearing small BTE hearing aids in both ears, very pretty.’ Deaf Wannabe Hearing Aid Fetish 2000
‘Yes I'm most DEAFintely turned on by the feel and sight of myself in hearing aids...In fact I'm convinced I perform far better sexually when I have them in! . I have dated a few real "deafies" in the past but never let on about my fetish, allowing them to believe I was entirely "for real". My signing skills may have fooled them. I have become fluent enough for the local hospital to choose me as their sign intepeter whenever deaf patients get admitted.’ Deaf Wannabe Hearing Aid Fetish 2000
‘ I am on my fourth pair of BTE's since I started wearing them as a youth. I also have a fetish of a "turn on" when someone plays with my hearing aids while they are in my ears! Anyone else enjoy this?’ Deaf Wannabe Hearing Aid Fetish 2000
These people purposely destroy their hearing so they can get these hearing aids free from government agencies/medical insurance companies. They limit the funds that can be used to help the true Deaf people. When people find out that they are faking it, it makes people less receptive to the needs of the people who truly need help.
‘Yes, I will visit my GP in time, and probably get fixed up with an NHS hearing aid (why turn down a freebie?).’ Deaf Wannabe 2000
‘Here in the UK it's good that hearing aids are supplied totally free through the health service, and that all the repairs and replacements and even batteries are included!’ Deaf Wannabe 2000
‘You who live in the UK are very lucky that you can get public funding for hearing aids. My last pair I got were partially paid for by my job, but I still had to cough up 500 dollars of my own. ‘ Deaf Wannabe 2000
I wonder if all these people are ‘nuts’. But then on doing a bit more digging around on the internet, I found a Blind Wannabes group for people wanting to be blind, who wear contacts to make everything dark, or they stare at the sun for long lengths of time. Then there’s the disabled wannabes who go round on wheelchairs or crutches when they’re perfectly abled. Let’s not forget the group of people feel that they are amputees, trapped in a body that is whole . Apparently one 50yo man froze his leg on purpose so he could get it amputated. Are all these people really that much different to people wanting sex change operations? Or plastic surgery for that matter?
Lastly, I’ll post an email from the group which I find very sad but very strange…
i have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears. i hate garbled sounds and having to try to block out sounds that are anoyning. i can hear a person if they are close but i will give you an example of what happens: Speaker: I don't know where to get it. Do you? What I hear: You are full of shit! Screw you.
Do you see how offensive this is? this happens quite often and i am tired of it. i am fluent in ASL and am wantin to go to Gallaudet. another problem is that people dont realize the extent of my loss because my speech is clear. i cant help that. i have been talking my whole life and i only started losing my hearing in 97. You want to know how I lost it? Loud music! I constantly played loud music during high school in my walkman. In 97 I had my hearing checked and it was Mild to Moderate. In 98 it had dropped to Moderate. In 99 It had dropped to Moderate to Severe. In 2000 it was Severe to Profound. I realize that it could drop to Profound soon but I want to speed it up so i box my ears every night until my ears feel like they will explode and they ring very loud. do you think this will speed things up? tell me what to do.