Friday, July 6, 2012

Seek and Ye Shall Find: Hearing What We Want to Hear

I think most men in a relationship, more often than not a long term relationship, have heard this statement uttered by their partner: "You only hear what you want to hear!" Whether or not this statement is true when pertaining to your listening habits, at least you can take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. The fact is that almost everybody hears and sees what they want to be there. Whether it be a belief in religion, a crazy conspiracy, or something as intense as hypochondria; whatever people think and want to happen is more often than not what we see in the events that unfold in front of us everyday.

I have always been interested in the work of the famed prophet, Nostradamus. The end of the world and the vast library of other infamous Nostradamus predictions can scare one into believing just about anything. Those who want to believe the man was a prophet and that he could predict significant events in the future will point to his "specific" predictions and effortlessly pair them up with significant events in history. An example of this can be found here:

Although these predictions seem legitimate, I think those who believe in them choose to ignore the fact that there are about nine hundred other predictions that no one hears about because they are completely sense-less and are relevant to nothing. As irrelevant as they may be, those who believe he was right will choose to ignore the faults and focus on the good.  Here are a list of some Nostradamus predictions that have been mildly disproved, some of which overlap with some of the predictions in the above list:

Hypochodriasis is another prime example of seeing what we believe and hearing what we want to hear. Hypochondria is defined as a somatoform disorder in the DSM-IV. It is also known as "white coat anxiety" and the illness is characterized with a constant belief that one is ill and that a slight pain or discomfort is a terminal illness. No matter how many times a doctor tells a person with hypochondriasis that they are not ill, they refuse to believe them, focusing on their one symptom and assuring themselves in their mind that they are terminally ill. This is a textbook definition of hearing what we want to hear because no matter how many times other qualified professional people tell a hypochondriac that they are healthy, they will consistently refuse to believe it.

My point is this, hearing what we want to hear and seeing what we want to believe is a common feature of the human psyche. As a child on Christmas Eve, we hear "reindeer footsteps on the roof" and know that Santa is just up there getting our presents. Was there really a noise on the roof? Or is our belief in the fat trespassing man in a red coat making us hear the noises? By reading this post you can probably tell what i think the noises were: but hey, to each his own

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic post! Food for thought, maybe no two persons can ever experience, see and perceive the same event in the exact same way and manner. First, they do not see through the same eyes or from the exact same place or position and time. Their experience of the same event is always different, it has to be different. Secondly, each person has a different personal perception or perspective and cultural interpretation of an event. What we see, hear and believe is truly our own and no one else can have or experience it in the exact same way. Perhaps our memory recall, purpose for recall, culture, beliefs, morals, values, gender,and life experiences, etc. dictate how we communicate what we truly perceive to be the same.