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Can Silence Actually Drive You Crazy?
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  • Silence driving you crazy? Get Tinnitus! You'll never, ever be alone.

  • I really wonder who makes up stupid myths like "silence drives you crazy".

    In the institute I worked at in University we also had such a "non-echo" room for audio measurements/recordings, and there really isn't anything special to them. Actually, a few colleagues liked to go there to take naps.

    If the absence of echos would drive you crazy, many people would go crazy when cuddled in between fluffy pillows at night.

    Or just think of people who sleep outdoors in remote, snowy areas on days with no wind - they don't hear echoes, either.

    In contrast, lots of scientific studies have shown that permanent exposure to noise harms your health, and not just on a pychological level.

  • Indeed. Cause of my tinnitus.


    Hear Myth Busters with Dr Karl talking about a minus 40dB silence said to drive anybody crazy - except Jamie Hyneman!

  • We should be wary of journalistic descriptions like "silence" and "crazy" because these are relative and subjective labels. "Silence" will affect different people in different ways. I'm sure everyone knows someone who might go "crazy" if they have to stop talking for 5 minutes. Or, if you grew up in the middle of Cairo (one of the loudest cities) you might go "crazy" in a "quiet" city like Berlin (a relatively quiet city for 4 million inhabitants). I've taken city people to "silent" forests and for some it does make them uncomfortable. But if you grew up in a small town in Northern Ontario "silence" is probably something you're used to. And of course the opposite is true, if you're used to "silence" then being in a noisy environment can make you "crazy".

    I think the "going crazy" in anechoic chambers is a reference to the fact that most people will eventually adjust to a "silence" of the room and start to hear their own body; ears ringing, heartbeat, blood flow, digestion etc which is type of feedback that can certainly make you feel uncomfortable and yeah, possibly "crazy".

  • Agreed. I spent 3 months, largely alone in SE Alaska forest in the 60's. Returning home I realized just how insane our modern environment is when you are no longer acculturated. I couldn't leave home for a week.

  • The thing the Mythbusters/Dr Karl referred to - as per documented experiments - is that, in that extreme quiet we can hear workings of our own body like never before, as well as other stuff, maybe our imagination, memories of sounds being perceived as sounds.

    17 MB Podcast HERE