Fear Of Silence (sedatephobia)
Our sound experts spoke to a number of specialists who treat patients suffering from extreme fears who said they are seeing an increasing number battling a condition known as sedatephobia.
Symptoms Of SedatephobiaSufferers tend to experience symptoms to include panic attacks, heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath and nausea if they are in an environment or situation which is quiet. This can include anything from a spell in a library or an exam room, during pauses in conversation, as the result of a power cut, when they try to spend time alone or when they try to sleep.
Leading hypnotherapist Dominic Knight, who practises in Harley Street, London, said: “In the 21 stcentury we are bombarded by noise all the time. Everywhere we go there is music, computers, mobile phones, ring tones, buzzers, conversation, people, and television screens. “This technological revolution has had the side-effect of creating a glut of people who find silence unsettling and uncomfortable. “These patients report an unhealthy need for constant noise and interaction with others which can cause serious problems in their lives.”
He said he had seen a sharp rise in the number of cases of sedatephobia in the last 20 years and expected to see even more in the next 10 years. “This type of phobia was relatively unheard of 50 years ago,” he said. “The only logical conclusion is that we live in a much noisier world now and that, while some people find the hubbub a source of annoyance, many find it a reassurance.”
Echo Barrier, which provides ways to help manage noise pollution in a number of industries, carried out research into the source of sounds of today compared with those of the past.
Peter Wilson, technical director at Echo Barrier, said: “It is clear from studies that a gradual invasion of noise has removed silence from the daily existence of many. “A century ago a report identified that the most disruptive noises to people were horse-drawn vehicles, peddlers, musicians, animals and bells. “In the 1920s the 10 most annoying noises identified all emanated from machines. “Noise is the necessary side-effect of a world which has changed, grown and developed but it is a shame that many of us no longer recognise that nugget of wise wisdom from the past: that silence can be golden.”
He added: “Excessive noise can cause headaches and depression as well as disturb sleep, reduce performance and provoke irritation. “This is why we work hard to provide the best possible sound barriers in very noisy places like construction sites, road works and at big events.”
Andy Duncan, a phobia expert who has worked with Royal Marines to tackle their fear in combat, said: “Noise has changed so much in a century that it has started to impact the way we look at it. “People with sedatephobia would find it completely impossible to manage without constant noise and this can cause problems with insomnia, with social interaction and in their work where they might find it hard to concentrate.”
Two thirds of Europeans – 450 million people – are exposed every day to noise levels that the World Health Organisation (WHO) says are unacceptable.
International Noise Awareness Day is being held on 24th April 2013 and is being supported by Echo Barrier. For more information visit www.echobarrier.com or find Echo Barrier on Twitter @echobarrier.