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Book by David Myers Explores
The Experience of Hearing Loss

Posted October 9, 2000

HOLLAND -- Dr. David Myers of the Hope College psychology faculty has written numerous books for students and general audiences alike, and although they have all concerned topics of interest to him, none have flowed so directly from his own life as the latest.

He has written best-selling textbooks on psychology and social psychology. He has written popularly- acclaimed books on happiness and on "The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty." And now he has written "A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss," released this fall by Yale University Press, which is a first-person account of his own encounter with gradual hearing loss and its effect on his life.

"My perspective combines my vocation as a research psychologist and writer with my experiences as the son of a woman deafened late in life and as a hard of hearing person," he writes in his preface. "This unusual combination, it occurred to me one day, positioned me to speak about hearing, hearing loss and hearing interventions as both a participant and an observer."

According to Myers, some 28 million Americans and some 350 million people worldwide live with hearing loss. He notes that the hard of hearing are "a fast-growing group because of the aging of our population and the cumulative effects of amplified music, power mowers, motorcycles and blow dryers."

He has geared his book not only to the hard of hearing, but also to their loved ones--those who help them cope with their hearing loss. In the U.S., that latter group includes some 15 million spouses and 50 million children.

"Drawing on both psychological research and my own experience, I hope first to help you understand the sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious experience of hearing loss, and second to suggest how you might more effectively offer love and advice," he writes in the preface.

"A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss" tells of Myers' journey from denial of his hearing loss to acceptance, and includes insights gained from others' experiences as well. He also explores the technologies that help now and offer hope for the future.

In the book, Myers explains why he resisted having his hearing tested even as he struggled in his daily life as he approached age 50. He tells of the stress of guessing what people are saying, and of what it feels like to be laughed at when wrong. He tells of missing 40 percent of the sermon during a moving church service, and of leading a discussion group in which he couldn't hear much of what was said. He tells the funny side of hearing loss, with stories of hard-of-hearing people whose missing a word caused them to buy their child castanets for Christmas instead of a casting net, or to end up in the wrong locker room.

He explores the limits and potential of technology. He explains why many people hate their hearing aids and hide them in drawers, and what it sounds like to put a hearing aid on for the first time. He considers the effectiveness of the latest adjustable, digital aids; the benefits of cutting-edge cochlear implants; and the value of computers as communication tools for the profoundly deaf.

Given what he views as the important role that spouses play in helping their partners deal with hearing loss, he also includes his wife's account of both her sympathy and her frustration with his denial of the problem.

"A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss" is available in hardcover for $18.50. Excerpts and links to hearing loss resources are available at www.davidmyers.org.

Myers is the John Dirk Werkman Professor of Psychology at Hope, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1967. In addition to a dozen books, he has written scientific and popular articles that have appeared in some five dozen periodicals, ranging from "Scientific American" to the "Christian Century." His work has been covered in publications including "Newsweek" and "Time"; featured on ABC, NBC and National Public Radio; and discussed in cover stories in "Psychology Today" and "Redbook," among others.

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