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The "IT-ism" of tinnitus

CBT for Tinnitus E-Programme
Published by Debbie Featherstone in About the CBT for Tinnitus E-Programme · Monday 17 Apr 2023
The “IT”-ism of tinnitus
Extract from Stage 3: Meaning in tinnitus

How often do you refer to your tinnitus as “it”? In your own thoughts and self-talk? Even when you mention tinnitus to others. And what about when others are talking about your tinnitus? Or others are talking about their tinnitus?

What about when you go to a doctor about your tinnitus? Or to audiology? Even when talking with friends, family, colleagues at work. Or don’t you mention “it” at all?

Have you noticed just how many times the word “it” is used when referring to tinnitus? I’m sure I have used “it” when referring to tinnitus in this course!

“It” is a tiny two-letter word encompassing EVERYTHING pertaining to YOUR experience of tinnitus. Can such an everyday two-letter pronoun possibly portray, let alone communicate what you mean when you are referring to an experience?

Question: How do you know that another person understands the same “it” as you do? How does another person know that you understand the same “it” as they do?

Answer: You don’t. They don’t.

Two Example Influences

1. You go to see a doctor – it might be your GP; it might be ENT. You go because you are seeking real help for what you are going through. The doctor appears to be listening, but then says: “You’ll have to learn to live with it”, or similar. The “it” the doctor MEANS is not the same “it” that you MEAN. At least one would hope so, considering all the baggage that “it” MEANS to you!

What is your take-away from being told – by a doctor – that you’ll have to live with all that your “it” means? Despair? Loss of any possible hope? Fear? At the very least, frustration. You will know better than I.

2. You then go to Mister Google – if you haven’t done that already, and you likely have! You find forums where you find hundreds of others all talking about their “it”. While forums were originally set up for good – to support others – other people’s stories influence us. We don’t intend to further embed the fears we already have, but intended or not, it happens. In many cases, fears are exacerbated.


There is a third example, one that has even greater influence than the two above. That is your own self-talk. Each and every time you repeat to yourself “this is terrible”, “I hate this”, “I can’t cope with this”, further embeds the fear (and all the other emotions and reactions) already in place. “This” is just another pronoun that reinforces how you are, how you feel. And “this” emphasises even more personally than “it”.

The way we talk to ourselves, and the way we interpret communications from others, affects our perspective by heavily influencing us. Is there any wonder then, that we view such difficult experiences as “problem-oriented”?


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Company Director: Debbie Featherstone

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