Monday, March 3, 2008

One Sick Group - The Deaf Wannabe

Back in the year 2000, someone pointed me in the direction of the Deaf Wannabe site on Yahoo… Eight years ago this group had a mere 30 people or so, not really big enough to take seriously, but now, in 2008, there’s 794 people subscribed. That’s an awful lot of sick people! For those that don’t know, this is a site for those that have a genuine interest in the following..

* Deaf Wannabe or *Deaf by Choice
* Deaf Pretender or *Deaf Fetish
* Hearing aid lover or *Hearing aid Fetish

Let’s examine each of the above criteria a little. They’re all sick, true, but each of them have repercussions that go much deeper when you start seriously thinking about them, and each of the criteria are linked, even though they look quite separate at first.

Deaf Wannabe/Deaf by Choice screams at me. It screams at the very core of me who so wholeheartedly would like to have normal hearing. I hate having to concentrate so hard to be able to hear what is going on in my life, 100% of the time. I would love to sit back and just have a relaxing conversation without having to intensely lip-read the whole time, and understand words the first time round without having to ask to repeat. But here’s a bunch of people who WANT to be deaf, and who write to the list a set of instructions on how they have done so, for others to follow suit. They call this process of going from hearing to hard of hearing, to deaf as ‘crossing over’, or ‘finding their nirvana’.

‘I liked the description of this posting from ‘xxxxx’. 'Finding my Nirvana' is a really good description of what we are seeking in developing a hearing loss and becoming deaf by choice. Having spent some time acquiring my hearing loss, I feel now that I am finding my Nirvana’.

Deaf-Wannabe Nov 2000

‘One thing I want to make clear is that this is not a case of having 'fun with an experiment'. The 'experiment' stage took place over a long period of time. I simulated deafness in my left ear using cotton wool, and knew exactly where this would lead to. Consequently the results are not surprising, and I need very little time to acclimatise.

I have taken a long time to consider whether this was the right thing to do, and to think through all the implications. I'm still mid-20's and live a highly active social life with music and clubbing being an essential feature of my weekends. But deep down I have had an irrepressible need to develop a bilateral hearing loss. This is my Nirvana. I'm not deaf, but I am hard of hearing in both ears. For me it is good, and I think my hearing loss is probably just as much as I want it to be without it becoming a handicap or excessive. I don't want to become seriously deaf or isolated. I want to use hearing aids, and have the enjoyment of doing so and knowing I need them. As near as possible I want 'normal' hearing with my hearing aids. I've thought long and hard, done the planning, and taken it slowly. After all, you can't change your mind.’

Deaf Wannabe – 2000

These people are for real. My biggest problem with them is that they promote self harm by writing to the list ways that others can also do the same. I believe the site has created a lot of issue within the UK. The police were informed but any attempt to get Yahoo to close the site down has met with failure, due to the owners of the group lobbying that the self harm is justified under the same grounds as gay rights. I believe they don’t have the same grounds because it is abuse of some very vulnerable people.

‘I have lessened my hearing in one ear to about 50% over the years due to glue, wax, oil, cotton, foam, etc. But now, I want to be deaf. Totally. I hate sound. I want to be deaf. What's the quickest way total deafness that I can do myself?’

Deaf Wannabe 2004

‘I've used a combination of methods to develop my hearing loss;
a.. I've induced immediate results by repeatedly perforating my eardrums
b.. I use high intensity sound from a variety of sources to cause an immediate temporary loss. This eventually accumulates to create a longer term permanent loss. However, I restrict this since the effect of exposure to high levels of sound is accumulative and it causes continued very long term hearing loss which cannot be stopped.
c.. I apply hydraulic pressure by squirting water into my ears with a plastic squeezy container whilst in the shower to stretch my eardrums
d.. I press Q Tips hard against my eardrum to stretch and slacken it
e.. I 'box' my ears by slapping hard with the palm of my hand - 20 hard slaps repeated 5 times in quick succession (this needs to be done knowing the risks associated with continually hitting the side of the head.
I apply each of these processes several times each day, and continually monitor the results by checking known sound sources - I can no longer hear my watch tick - I check against frequencies, and against the level I need to set the TV or radio.’

Deaf Wannabe – 2000.

Let’s go on to the Deaf Pretenders. These people pretend to be deaf and seek help with how to ‘sound deaf’ or have a ‘deaf voice’. If they are asked how they went deaf, they’ll quote ‘meniere’s disease’. All this and with no real understanding on what it’s like to be deaf or what it’s like to have meneire’s disease either.

‘I'm curious if anyone else tries using a "deaf voice" when talking to new people. Also, what excuse do you use for your loss? I've used Meniere's Disease just because it justified late-onset loss and my non-knowledge of ASL, plus people don't seem toknow what it is and just accept the answer.’

Deaf Pretender 2005

‘Excited to be here...Thanks for telling me about this list. For those who don't know the story, I am a 38 year old male who wears BTE's on both ears as a result of a self-inflicted hearing loss as a youth. Although my hearing is pretty much corrected with the hearing aids, I like to carry on as a culturally "deaf" person. I have learned sign language, have a TTY in my house, and several deaf friends in the Denver area, some of which don't even realise I can speak. I do collect hearing aids, and especially enjoy wearing both BTE and body aids.’

‘Deaf pretender/Deaf Fetish 2000

Carrying on as a culturally deaf person after purposely destroying his hearing? This person could be your friend or person you party with, and you wouldn't know. Should we feel flattered that people want to part of the Deaf community, so much so that they self harm, and become excellent actors, just to fit in?

Then there is the Hearing aid Lover/Hearing Aid Fetish. Now I find this really strange because I couldn’t wait to get rid of my hearing aids once I had a Cochlear Implant and no longer needed one. The moulds in your ears are horrible, my ears itched for 20 years as I was allergic to the materials that the moulds were made from. The itchiness caused infections. The sound quality was poor, sometimes non-existent. They whistled. I’m sure you can all relate to this – so WHY do people find them sex objects????

‘And my Saturday afternoon in town finished on a really good note too. I was about to walk past an unusually attractive girl with long honey blonde hair, and as I did so the breeze blew her hair just enough to catch a glimpse of her ear, and for that split second moment I thought I saw the shine of the earmould a BTE hearing aid. I kinda melted, and couldn't resist turning back to see if I had imagined this. As she slowed to look in a shop window the breeze blew again as I passed and I could see that she was wearing small BTE hearing aids in both ears, very pretty.’

Deaf Wannabe Hearing Aid Fetish 2000

‘Yes I'm most DEAFintely turned on by the feel and sight of myself in hearing aids...In fact I'm convinced I perform far better sexually when I have them in! . I have dated a few real "deafies" in the past but never let on about my fetish, allowing them to believe I was entirely "for real". My signing skills may have fooled them. I have become fluent enough for the local hospital to choose me as their sign intepeter whenever deaf patients get admitted.’

Deaf Wannabe Hearing Aid Fetish 2000

‘ I am on my fourth pair of BTE's since I started wearing them as a youth. I also have a fetish of a "turn on" when someone plays with my hearing aids while they are in my ears! Anyone else enjoy this?’

Deaf Wannabe Hearing Aid Fetish 2000

These people purposely destroy their hearing so they can get these hearing aids free from government agencies/medical insurance companies. They limit the funds that can be used to help the true Deaf people. When people find out that they are faking it, it makes people less receptive to the needs of the people who truly need help.

‘Yes, I will visit my GP in time, and probably get fixed up with an NHS hearing aid (why turn down a freebie?).’

Deaf Wannabe 2000

‘Here in the UK it's good that hearing aids are supplied totally free through the health service, and that all the repairs and replacements and even batteries are included!’

Deaf Wannabe 2000

‘You who live in the UK are very lucky that you can get public funding for hearing aids. My last pair I got were partially paid for by my job, but I still had to cough up 500 dollars of my own. ‘

Deaf Wannabe 2000

I wonder if all these people are ‘nuts’. But then on doing a bit more digging around on the internet, I found a Blind Wannabes group for people wanting to be blind, who wear contacts to make everything dark, or they stare at the sun for long lengths of time. Then there’s the disabled wannabes who go round on wheelchairs or crutches when they’re perfectly abled. Let’s not forget the group of people feel that they are amputees, trapped in a body that is whole . Apparently one 50yo man froze his leg on purpose so he could get it amputated. Are all these people really that much different to people wanting sex change operations? Or plastic surgery for that matter?

Lastly, I’ll post an email from the group which I find very sad but very strange…

i have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears. i hate garbled sounds and having to try to block out sounds that are anoyning. i can hear a person if they are close but i will give you an example of what happens:

Speaker: I don't know where to get it. Do you?
What I hear: You are full of shit! Screw you.

Do you see how offensive this is? this happens quite often and i am tired of it. i am fluent in ASL and am wantin to go to Gallaudet. another problem is that people dont realize the extent of my loss because my speech is clear. i cant help that. i have been talking my whole life and i only started losing my hearing in 97. You want to know how I lost it? Loud music! I constantly played loud music during high school in my walkman. In 97 I had my hearing checked and it was Mild to Moderate. In 98 it had dropped to Moderate. In 99 It had dropped to Moderate to Severe. In 2000 it was Severe to Profound. I realize that it could drop to Profound soon but I want to speed it up so i box my ears every night until my ears feel like they will explode and they ring very loud. do you think this will speed things up? tell me what to do.

Deaf Wannabe 2001


Bron said...

Yes, there's another wannabe group I've come across too. It's called the "Brain Dead Wannabes" and these guys are real lucky coz they get instant membership to that club as well!!

Where's my gun......

Anonymous said...

It is said the deaf culture has proved so attractive to these wannabees, because of the support and 'community' aspect of it,they will try anything to get deaf. These people have serious issues of mental health because they self-harm, and should be pitied not given the oxygen of free adverts here, that just encourages them more. One aspect is unsettling how many, are already HERE at and major contributors ?
We should log in to their ISP and complain they are allowing self-harm to be publicised... it's no use complaining on any other grounds, start a petition, let's get rid of them. I don't know about American law but advocating self-harm is illegal isn't it ?

Kiwimail said...

Hi Robyn,

I remember at a What? Club meeting years ago at a pub on Queen Street that we had a character who attended and claimed that he was kind of "psychologically" deaf. He thought he was deaf, but he was wasn't. He obviously expected some sympathy, but everyone ignored him. He never came back, I hope we "cured" him of his little fantasy! Not sure if you were there that day Robyn.

I also wonder how this group justifies the onset of tinnitus that usually occurs too? I'll usggest an answer: "I don't worry about the sounds in my head, it is kind of reassuring feeling that I live next to Heathrow 24 hours a day."

If they technology existed, I would swap my clapped out ears for one of their shiny new pairs any day of the week. I bet that offer would put this group out of existence straight away.

Anonymous said...

It is very unsettling to think they're here on Deafread alive and well among us. However, I hope that if they do read my blog, then they will see that they are definitely not welcome, and will hopefully see that their feelings are sick, and will seek help.

My biggest concern is that they are posting step by step instructions in how to self harm in this site, and anyone can subscribe and then read them. That to me is really danngerous. Especially to vulnerable teenagers looking for different ways to experiment with life, and not realising the terrible consequences of what they're doing until it's too late.

I'm not sure if you can do anything to shut the site down though, other than to blog about it again and again until someone sits up and takes note!

Thanks for your comment.


Anonymous said...

Hi kiwimail,

I do vaguely remember that guy who was 'psychologically deaf'. I'm also no sure if I was there or not, or whether I heard about it second hand from someone. Was it at the Queen's Head?

And yes - we all ignored him. Serves him right. If they're psychologically deaf, they shouldn't seek help amongst the deaf at all. They should see the psychiatrist.


Patty said...

Wow!! I'm completely speechless. I always thought I'd seen everything I could find in the Deaf community.

Could some of these members be CODAs or Hearing children of all-Deaf families????

My Hearing sister grew up wishing she was Deaf like me and our 2 other siblings.

Anonymous said...

Robyn, wow I could hardly believe my eyes when I was reading your blog. I mean people actually do this to themselves in order to be accept by the deaf community. This has got to be the SICKEST thing I have ever heard in my life! If they only knew your struggle and how hard life has been or could be once they have lost all of their hearing. I am currently in school learning ASL because I want to be an intrepreter. I pray that I never run across any of the "Deaf Wannabe's". I applaud you for bring this very sick practice to light. You go girl!

MJC said...

Oh, Robyn! Thanks for posting this (I still makes me queasy). I first learned of them at the same time as you, back when there were 30 or so. I cannot believe they have nearly 800 members now.
May I post a link to this post on my blog?

Mike McConnell said...

Is it wanting to become deaf the reason to see a psychologist or the harmful act (ie purposely perforating the ear drum rather than listening to extremely loud sound) would merit a requirement to see a psychologist or get help?

Anonymous said...

Has ANYONE here conciously CHOSEN to be a deaf person ? I suspect the answer is no, we acquire it, or are born with or deafnened via illness or accident, none of these are 'deliberate' acts.

Over 700 of these people suggests to me one or two things, someone is pulling their site chain ! or there are a LOT of sick people out there. A few years ago this site was flooded with deaf people logging in to find out what it was all about, it may well be they didn't then ask for their addies to be removed, or were refused, so are left there. we can only hope this 'epidemic' of self harmers gets addressed rapido !


Anonymous said...

Hi Patty,

There is a very big difference between growing up wishing you were deaf like your siblings, and actually doing self harm to make sure you go deaf.

We all 'wish' we were something else at some point in our lives, but the majority of us don't damage ourselves in the process!


Anonymous said...

Fantastic you're in school learning ASL for an interpreter. You will be much needed!

I doubt you will run across any Deaf Wannabe's because they would never admit to it in person for fear of the men in white coats :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa,

By all means post a link to my blog on your site - I'd be honoured :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

I think once you go into self harm mode, then a phychiatric visit is warranted. However, I have to question the sanity of anyone with normal hearing who actually WANTS to be deaf!!


Anonymous said...

Hi MM,

I would think the majority of us here are genuinely deaf, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were a few people here from the deaf wannabe site. But we'll probably never know.

As for 700 people on the site - over 8 years, it's probably a natural growth from 30. Sure some might be logged in that aren't jus to see, but not all. If you look at the other wannabe sites - they're just as bad!


Mike McConnell said...

Describe "harm mode." Is putting on a headphone and crank the volume super high hoping to achieve hearing loss a few years earlier or the actually physical harm like puncturing one's ear drum?

Maybe they see acquiring deafness is seen as a positive trait to have and Deaf people should be flattered by all that. No? Or am I seeing that people are saying that having hearing sense is a beneficial thing to have and shouldn't be discounted and discarded? A gift if you will.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

Harm mode is anything you've done on purpose to destroy your hearing. If you've cranked up the volume on a headphone just to listen to music, but not for the intention of going deaf, thats just stupid, but not intentional self abuse. But if you're doing it for the sole purpose of destroying your hearing so you can be deaf, as some of these people have written about, thats physical harm, as is purposely puncturing one's ear drum, or putting super glue in their ears.

There is a blind wannabe group too. Where people are purposely destroying their sight to become blind. So you really do have to wonder why these people are driven to self harm, or delusions that having a disability is better than having no disability at all. I suspect it's an attention seeking thing.

Having good hearing is a beneficial thing and shouldn't be discarded if you have it. Likewise, having sight is also a beneficial thing. I think it's a sign of a very disturbed individual who sets out to destroy these on purpose.


kw said...

I've known about this for awhile, but never read any actual excerpts from the site. It truly sickens me. I have met a few people I suspect are faking their hearing losses. It's easy to pick up on a "faker" over time. Whether they damaged their own hearing or merely fake their hearing losses for attention are two different things. Either way, it's weird. Thanks for posting about this.

mishkazena said...


yes, some people actually deliberately destroyed their hearing so they can become deaf. I've encountered one site of one disturbed woman explaining how she damaged her hearing organ permanently. It was horrifying reading that site. Unfortunately I didn't save the link to that site, but I remember her first name. I'll see if I can find that site again.

Mike McConnell said...

I see. And then that leaves with the idea that whatever hearing one has, and that hearing is beneficial in first place, people shouldn't complain if a deaf or hh person want to improve his/her hearing or even restore it completely someday.

Anonymous said...

I'd be the first to sign up for a hearing restoration :)

But whatever someone decides for the improvement of their hearing is their decision.

I'm still horrified that people wnat to destroy what they have, particularly those with normal hearing to become deaf. But even more horrified that they post it up on the internet to promote it and to encourage others to do the same. That's totally wrong in my opinion!


LifeWrecked said...

Robyn, thanks for an utterly fascinating (strange, bizarre, sick) :) expose.

Being the laterally overcharged individual I am, I have a number of comments and observations.

First, there's a perspective I would consider equivalent in terms of people who need to cover their bodies with tattoos (not the most common, but the extreme, everywhere, head to toe). They call it "art" and I suppose maybe the wannabe's of various ilks might say the same thing (perhaps "performance art"?)

Mike had me scared there for a minute - you *are* just analyzing, right Mike? ;)

Self-mutilation is sadly not a new phenomenon - the Internet is good at broadcasting all the sick stuff as well as the good stuff.

I *do* think if folks like this are allowed to stay online, they need to be *made* to put a disclaimer in a prominent place that self harm is NOT a good idea and carries enourmous whole life consequences. Alcohol, cigarettes, etc., in the US are required to carry similar warnings.

There is a lot of psychological (ill) attraction for some folks to identify with "disabilities" as "victims." Victims get to blame (psychologically) fate (or evil "whatever") for their condition, and some people who've suffered neglectful conditions in their childhood may find that emotionally attractive.

What happens, of course with those of us who really are challenged by an issue NOT of our own making, is that we move (some faster than others, always with struggle) from "victimhood" to acceptance, and the realization that we are responsible for our own lives and outcomes regardless of the challenges we face (that's called mental health).

Well that's a long enough comment for now!

Big Hugs Robyn!

Paul S (AKA LifeWecked)

Anonymous said...

It is insulting that people would wish to harm themselves in such ways, when in my view, all they are doing is exercising their sick, warped curiousities... There are so many people who are differently abled, who have no choice, and who have experienced prejudice and struggles in life due to being physical or mental disabilities. If you ask any of these people, they would say that they would, if given the opportunity, prefer to be as able-bodied as possible, minus their disabilities... If these people could have the option to "self heal" as much as these deaf wannabes choose to "self harm"!

Another enlightening blog Robyn, thank you.

MJC said...

Thanks, Robyn - I posted the link on my blog today.
Now, re-reading this, I think the post that gives me the creepiest feeling is the person with the fetish who has become an ASL interpreter in a hospital, who has the potential to sexually objectify his or her deaf/Deaf patients when they are at their most vulnerable.
And, of course, the people who are complaining about not receiving enough financial help for their self-inflicted needs. They're driving up prices and taking help away from all of those who legitimately need such services. Grrrrrr.

David said...

Hi Robyn,
First of all I love your blog. I stumbled upon it when researching people with a CI. I am hopefully getting a CI this summer. There currently is about a 3-4 month wait here in Canada.
Second, I could not believe this recent post. I became profoundly deaf due to a medical implosion if you will, this past September. I can not believe anyone would want to harm themselves to be deaf.
Third, I would love to put a link to your blog on my blog with your permission. You are a great writer, thinker, and inspiration. Keep us posted on your goings on.

David said...

Robyn, one more thing. I love your photographs and love the t shirts.
I love the "I'm not deaf...." one and would love to buy it.
SHipping to Canada possible if I paid shipping?

Anonymous said...

i believe there is a small percentage of hearing wannabes among deafies.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

Feel free to link my blog to your site - I would be very honoured. Good luck with your CI - summer for you is just round the corner, please keep me posted.

As for the tshirt - if you buy on Redbubble they ship to anywhere in the world. There are three offices of Redbubble, one in Australia, one in the UK and one in the USA. I suspect that if you purchase, the tshirt will be made and shipped from the USA, just as mine are from Australia seeing I am in New Zealand.

When you get your tshirt - please take a photo of yourself wearing it and post it up on your Blog for me to see :) I'll subscribe to your blog now :)


Mike McConnell said...


Had you scared? What do you mean?

Liz said...

You are right, Robyn, this is really scary! There are much better ways to find the rich sense of community and support in Deaf culture than to self-injure one's own ears...with irreversible consequences. Yikes!!

Unknown said...

I just wanted to say that I truly do have Meniere's Disease. I can't believe these wannabes just throw the term around. I go through hours of vertigo and nausea, fluctuating hearing loss (some days my hearing aids help/sometimes not), really loud tinnitus (loud enough to give me a headache and pain/fullness in both ears. Menieres is a terrible disease. I can't do things that I used to do (flying on a plane, riding a bike, etc) for fear of triggering an attack. If they want my Menieres that bad, they can gladly have it because Menieres is so much more than just hearing loss.

Anonymous said...

If people are adults, let them do what they wish. Stop trying to control people. I think people here are bothered by this because they're hearing impaired to begin with - sort of taking it personally. When emotions get involved, you get people saying things like "its sickening" when in fact, its a preference. Nothing more or less. Otherwise you run the risk of sending every McDonalds eating fatso to a psychiatrist because they're also "harming" themselves? Come on.