by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady that has Musical Ear Syndrome (MES) (hearing phantom sounds—mostly musical) explained, “A friend who is a psychologist hypnotized me for my MES. I learned from that experience that if I focus totally—100%—on a pleasant sound, such as the ocean waves, my MES goes away (at least for awhile). The hardest time to get the “music” out of my ears and head is at night after I get into bed. I have a white noise machine next to my bed. When I totally focus on that, my “music” goes away and I can go to sleep.”
For a number of years, I have been telling people who have tinnitus or MES exactly what you have just learned. And that is, if you have trouble dealing with your tinnitus and/or MES, totally focus on something—what I call “the loves of your life”—and you won’t even be aware you have tinnitus or MES for perhaps hours at a time.
The reason for this is that your brain only has so much cognitive “horsepower” and if you use it all up focusing on one thing, there isn’t enough cognitive “horsepower” left over to run your “tinnitus factory”. Hence you are not aware of your tinnitus or MES at that point.
To bring this point home, when I speak on tinnitus at various conventions around the country, I often remark, “Did you ever notice that when you are passionately kissing your spouse, you can’t hear your tinnitus.” In a few seconds, I get a bunch of knowing looks as the light goes on and the people in the audience realize that this is true.
I only ever had one man report that he could still hear his tinnitus, to which I quipped, “Obviously, you weren’t passionately kissing your wife!” (Not to make light of the subject because intractable tinnitus really is a serious condition.)
Thus, an excellent coping strategy is to focus away from your tinnitus or MES and totally focus on something else. It doesn’t really matter what you focus on, as long as it consumes your total focus. It could be someone as exciting as your spouse, some activity or hobby in which you immerse yourself, or something as boring as listening to white (or better yet, pink) noise. Whatever turns your crank at the moment.
The secret is to stop focusing on your tinnitus or MES and totally focus on something else.
If you want to learn more about tinnitus, the many things that can trigger tinnitus, and a number of things you can do to help bring your tinnitus under control, check out my book, “When Your Ears Ring—Cope with Your Tinnitus—Here’s How“.
And if you hear phantom music and related sounds, you might want to check out my book, “Phantom Voices, Ethereal Music & Other Spooky Sounds. This book explains what MES is and gives tips on how to bring it under your control.