Why do I Hear but Not Understand?

I am going to talk about an oldie but a goodie!  We are asked about this comment all the time.  It really is about the semantics of the question.  Imagine this:  your wife says, “You don’t hear me!”  You respond, “I heard you but you mumble!”  Then, the argument starts for real.  You are both right and you are both wrong.

The wife, in this scenario, is saying that the husband isn’t Understanding her (can hear the speech made but cannot make sense of the word because key consonant sounds are missing); whereas the husband is stating the same thing but his feeling is that she isn’t speaking clearly.  If you have been married for more than a little while, she probably has had the same voice volume for a long period of time.  It isn’t her voice or her mumbling because she didn’t mumble when you were first married.

He can hear you but the pieces of the word are missing.  I will leave the reader with this story.  I had a patient who came to my office complaining that he didn’t like to go to his church anymore.  I asked if the pastor now was teaching something than the Bible, was a new pastor, or there was anything else that he didn’t like.  To which he replied he is the same guy for 32 years, but in the last two years he doesn’t have anything good to say.  The wife was smirking dubiously in the corner.

I told this gentleman that it was my perception, born out in 23 years of experience and the shape of his hearing problem, “maybe you cannot understand him anymore so that is why you feel he doesn’t have anything good to say?”  He has worn my hearing aids for a few years now.  Hearing loss means a problem with understanding the words; it isn’t about making everything loud but clear now.  That’s what we can do.