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Hearing and the medical humanities: The human auditory experience
  1. Bonnie Millar1,2
  1. 1 Academic Rheumatology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  2. 2 NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Bonnie Millar, Academic Rheumatology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK; bonnie.millar{at}

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There is a growing body of research highlighting the difficulties in living with hearing impairment which can destabilise personal identity and lead to social isolation. Forty per cent of those provided with hearing aids rarely, if ever, use them.1 There is some evidence to suggest that many would rather be part of the hearing ablest group than publicly reveal their hearing impairment. It is possible to discern two facets to this; measurable hearing loss and/or hearing conditions, and their social construction.2 This special section is intended to extend interdisciplinary discussion on modern and historical aspects of hearing impairment, enabling communication between different study areas and subjects and to address entanglements of medicine and the humanities. While medical practice is so much more than biology, the privileging of scientific models, both academic and popular, sometimes results in the medical overpathologising of conditions.3 It is intended that this forum will open up a conversation to move beyond narrowly defined biological/medical models of hearing impairment to embrace its psychological/social/cultural components. By devoting a special section to this topic, it is hoped to raise its profile among a wider medical humanities audience and thereby continue the rich and fruitful dialogues across humanities and medicine.

Most people experience internal noises briefly at some point in their lives, but for some the episodes recur or become permanent. Chronic bothersome tinnitus can be an agonising emotive sensation necessitating antidepressants, sleeping tablets and/or painkillers. The painfulness of engaging in an ongoing interaction with internal sounds, with …

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  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.