By Charles Smithdeal, MD, FACS
Editor’s Note: Guest author, Charles Smithdeal, MD, FACS, C.Ht, is a former tinnitus and hyperacusis sufferer, a board-certified Hypnotherapist and Otolaryngologist. He is the Director of Hypnotherapy Institute and the Tinnitus Institute, in St Petersburg, Florida. For more information call: (727) 512-5130 or visit his website at http://hypno-institute.com. NOISE, WHAT NOISE? Relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques to reduce tinnitus.
For most of us, the onset of tinnitus creates fear. What’s this noise in my head? Am I having a stroke? Going deaf? This incessant noise is driving me crazy and my doctor says I’ll just have to live with it.
Tinnitus can occasionally be eliminated. More often, when that infernal noise just won’t go away, we’re asked to ignore it. Twenty percent of all adults experience persistent tinnitus, including one out of three over the age of 60. That’s millions and millions of people. Seventy-five percent of those are not particularly disturbed by the noise because they quickly learn to ignore it. How do they do that? How can one person ignore the noise in their head while another cannot ignore an almost identical noise? The answer is quite simple. There’s a new, exciting, and almost perfect solution to help the second group. (I say almost, because it worked for 85% of the people who’ve used it during the past 12 months.)
We are bombarded by thousands of external stimuli at any given moment--sights, sounds, tastes, touch, or smells--but we selectively focus on only a few. For example, were you really aware, before reading this sentence, of the tongue inside your mouth? Bet you are now. Are you also aware that it’s rough on one side…and smooth on the other? How about the shoes on your feet? Are they tight, loose, warm, stiff? Did you just wiggle your toes a bit to check? Why weren’t you consciously aware of those sensations just seconds ago? The same stimuli were there. The scientific explanation is, your conscious mind considers them unimportant, so it makes a habit of ignoring them. In medical terms, you habituate those stimuli. And you can habituate the noise in your head. Want some details?
Every human’s primitive hindbrain contains a limbic system which evaluates all new stimuli regarding their potential threat to safety and survival. For instance, if a noise is believed to come from a charging tiger, an internal energy transfer instantly relays that information to your pituitary gland which stimulates the adrenal glands to flood your system with adrenalin. You feel sudden and intense fear. Adrenalin puts you into a fight-or-flight mode: blood vessels dilate that serve large muscles of your shoulders, legs, and arms; your heart rate increases to pump more blood and oxygen; your blood pressure goes up; rate of breathing increases; your conscious mind becomes hyper alert, sweat glands activate, etc. You’re instantly prepared to do battle or run away. At the same time, however, other blood vessels constrict, and the blood supply diminishes to your digestive tract, salivary glands, sex organs, and the creative, reasoning forebrain. After all, how important is it to digest food, have sex, write a sales contract or create a business plan when you’re about to be eaten by a tiger? And forget about relaxing or going to sleep—adrenalin warns that your immediate task is to save your life. So, when the limbic system deems a stimulus to be a threat, it becomes impossible to ignore it. Not difficult - impossible. It is hardwired into your brain.
What does this have to do with ignoring the sound of persistent tinnitus? Everything! You absolutely cannot ignore the noise in your head as long as it’s accompanied by the negative emotions of fear, anxiety, anger, or frustration. These emotions scream like a fire alarm to your limbic system: Threat! Danger! Run!
Physicians have known since before the days of Hippocrates that every living being has a circulating energy system that gives us life. This is the system we measure when using CT scans, MRIs, EEGs, and EKGs. Until recently, however, only the Asian cultures understood how to influence this system for healing. Thanks to recent research by Dr. Bruce Lipton, a renowned cell biologist and research professor at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, we now have indisputable evidence that each cell of the body communicates with every other cell via this energy system. This instant communication is independent of nerves, blood vessels, hormones, or other chemicals. The limbic system, for example, communicates via this energy system with the pituitary gland to warn us of danger—much faster than would be possible through neurochemical changes. Lipton’s research has also shown that while the brain resides in the skull, the mind consists of the entirety of this energy system throughout the body, including the brain. Doesn’t it make sense to utilize the same system that originally instilled a particular fear in the mind, to remove it?
Twelve months ago I was led to a safe, effective and painless therapy that quickly unhooks negative emotions from the noise of tinnitus. It requires no medications and has no unpleasant side effects. I call it Anxiety Relief Techniques™ (ART). ART is based on the premise that negative emotions are caused by a disruption in the body’s energy system. I wish I could take credit for thinking up the premise, but I didn’t.
In 1979, Dr. Roger Callahan, a psychotherapist from California, determined that a thought generates its own unique and measurable energy. He demonstrated that a traumatic event often disrupts the flow of this normal energy communication. The disruption remains in place until something proactive is done to reverse it. It’s the disruption in the energy system caused by a traumatic event that makes one feel whatever they subsequently feel. Having studied psychology, quantum physics, kinesiology, and acupuncture, Callahan devised a method to reverse the disruption connected to any specific thought. He called his method Thought Field Therapy™. Gary Craig, a Stanford engineer, humanitarian, and entrepreneur who studied with Callahan, subsequently developed his own method known as Emotional Freedom Techniques™ (EFT). Both methods have helped thousands of people reverse unresolved emotional issues and even physical pain.
Having personally suffered for years from tinnitus and hyperacusis, I searched long and hard for something to relieve the frustration and anxiety of both conditions. As a board certified ENT specialist, I had ready access to conventional specialists and therapies. Quite frankly, I found them lacking. Also being a board-certified hypnotherapist, I found self-hypnosis extremely helpful in dealing with my tinnitus, but it still wasn’t the complete answer. However, by combining my experience with hypnosis, Thought Field Therapy and EFT, I was able to devise a method that worked great for me and is now helping others like me. Anxiety Relief Techniques™ is an expansion and refinement of the work of Callahan and Craig, incorporating the features I found effective for tinnitus sufferers.
Unlike other current methods, such as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, it doesn’t take years, months, or even weeks to obtain relief. In most instances ART removes the negative emotions from tinnitus - the anxiety, fear, & frustration - within several minutes to an hour or two. It literally unhooks the anxiety from the noise, utilizing the same energy system that installed it in the first place. ART is based on the latest developments in quantum physics, self hypnosis, and the emerging science of energy healing. I was surprised - amazed, actually - when the relief lasted for several months. I believe such relief will be permanent, but since ART was developed only 12 months ago, I can’t be certain how long the beneficial effects might last beyond that period. However, the technique is easy to repeat. I’ve seen no harmful or unpleasant side effects of any kind. Based on my experience in relieving negative emotions from other conditions, ART should be just as effective if it’s repeated in the future. Once learned, the technique is easily self-administered at home as needed.
The procedure is so readily administered that I generally teach it via phone consultations, utilizing e-mail and Fax to deliver the necessary instructional materials prior to the consultation. I have not seen EFT, ART, or hypnosis alone completely eliminate the noise of persistent tinnitus, but ART does make it easier to ignore. The volume of my own tinnitus diminished significantly after I began applying ART, as it has for about a third of my clients. I expect this percentage to increase with time.