Monday, October 3, 2011

Hearing loss and personality

I'm not even going to try to be all "Oh hey, internet, hey, I missed you, didja miss me?"

Because we all know the answer is YES.

So I went to this party a couple of weeks ago. Almost everyone there was deaf or hard of hearing, so I was all, "Great! Finally, I can go to a party and be able to keep up with everyone!" I had visions of finally discovering my true extroverted self as I flitted from group to group, emerging as the social butterfly I was always meant to be.

I arrived at the party and dropped off my dish (Pillsbury cookies lovingly sliced by hand and baked - I know, I am out of control here - by yours truly) and chatted with a friend. Then I moved into a room with fewer people and chatted with... TWO friends. Things really got wild when I was making my way to the sink to get some water (after the crowd from the drink station had dispersed, of course) and I was introduced to ONE person en route. Then to top it all off, I joined a larger, chatty group in the kitchen... and listened to their conversation but didn't say a peep.

It was a pretty wild night.

Growing up, I always assumed my reluctance to join large crowds or even to try to new things was related to my hearing loss. Communication is difficult, so of course it makes sense to stick to smaller groups. I didn't like surprises because I was terrified of missing information and embarrassing myself. Because that was my experience, I assumed that hearing loss would affect everyone's personality the same way and render all of us insecure introverts.

But I've met outgoing deaf people who have never met a stranger and fearless hard of hearing friends who swim with jellyfish (I mean, literally swim through a school - gaggle? herd? - of jellyfish... this is not an euphemism for being killed by the mob). I'm so grateful for these friends and acquaintances who remind me that hearing loss is not the end and I can't use it as a crutch to not do things.

Now, I am not so sure how much hearing loss affects one's personality. I do believe that people who are deaf or hard of hearing might have particular mannerisms or tendencies - like maybe we just notice things more or are good at picking up on non-verbal cues or we avoid noisy situations. Things like that may be a result of hearing loss but those aren't necessarily personality indicators.

I'm learning that maybe I'm the way I am because... I'm the way I am. Maybe large groups wear me out and being alone recharges me because I'm am introvert. I don't speak up much in a group because I like to think things over for a while before sharing. Maybe new situations and change and meeting new people make me nervous just because I am one of those people who takes a long time to adjust to change. And that's perfectly fine. 

What do you think? Is there a relationship between hearing loss and personality? Do people who are deaf or hard of hearing adopt particular habits due to their hearing loss?


  1. Great post! I wrote about personality and hearing loss "once upon a time". You can read it here:

    I have met many outgoing personalities in the hearing loss crowd too... and introverts are always there as well. I think for the introverts though, there is still a sense of peace in not having to explain some things to people who really get it already.


  2. I don't know the answer (obviously) but I feel the same way about people exhausting me and being introverted, so I'm sure it does have something to do with it.

    It's okay to be introverted. We're the creative type. ;-)

    I miss you Luc! Email me when I can come see you.

  3. Interesting post, Lucy. I was just ruminating on the same thing on my blog recently wondering if I didn't have hearing loss would I be more outgoing in groups.

  4. In some way, there's a connection between hearing loss and personality in terms of social interaction. Some would pick the people who understand their condition to find appreciation in what they are trying to express. I've met hearing-challenged people who are introverts, but they can still improve their social skills by showing their unique talents and abilities.

  5. Hearing loss, whether caused by disease, exposure to a loud suond, medication, or aging, is frustrating, depressing and annoying. Coping with hearing loss is more than just getting hearing aids. That is why some deaf people withdraw themselves from the crowd. Hearing loss may change some aspects of your personality, but it should not stop you from moving forward with your life and creating your own persona. Just be yourself, and you will do just fine. Good luck!