Regaining the Legend of Silence: On Noise Sensitivity, Superfluous Noise, and Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Today’s World

Our everyday environments have been growing more noisy in the last generation, and now pose considerable risks for many people of noise-induced loss of hearing sensitivity. At the same time, a considerable proportion of people claim that they are disturbed by excessive noise levels. In part this may be a completely unrecognized, yet common form of perceptual disability. Combining these two problems we have a recipe with enormous potential for creating social divisions, and acrimonious, even violent confrontations. Even if decisive action were to be taken now, it would be a long time before the related problems would be properly addressed. Greater awareness is needed of this looming, major public health problem. This is the first step, before any action will be possible at a political level. At the same time, greater recognition is needed of the very great differences between people in their individual “perceptual style”, and the levels of sensory stimulation in which they function at their best.

NB: I am collecting the names of people who feel strongly enough about the issues I raise here to involve themselves in bringing these issues to public attention. If you are one such – regardless of which country you are in – drop me a line at:

What this might involve I am not sure yet, but I do not intend anyone to be involved unless they are in full support of whatever action is taken.
[originally posted: 19.06.2013; am ended version posted 23.08.2013]
Noise sensitivity essay