Personalities and hearing loss

Sept. 24th, 2004

Does Hearing Loss Affect or Change Your Personality?

We had a great SHHH meeting tonight and our topic was all about personality types. The discussion was very lively! Some had lost their hearing at a very young age, while some had lost their hearing only in the past few years. ALL had a story to tell. (It would take me forever to list them all!) Anyway… it turned out to be a very interesting topic for our little group! We had a psychologist lead the discussion and give a brief outline of the 4 major personality types. We then discussed if we thought our hearing loss had affected our personalities.There are 4 main personality types:

Choleric: extrovert, “the doer”, optimistic, “can run anything”, etc.
Phlegmatic: introvert, “the watcher”, pessimistic, “peace at any price”, love stability, etc.
Sanguine: extrovert, “the talker”, optimistic, relationships are everything, expressive.
Melancholic: introvert, “the thinker”, pessimistic, content to stay in background, loves orderliness and organization.

We discussed each of these a great deal, discussing both the strengths and the weaknesses of each primary personality type. We also discussed that not any one person is uniquely, nor solely 100% of one personality type. Every individual has a “blend”, however everyone does have a “primary”. The group concluded that hearing loss is viewed differently, and handled in unique ways, depending on the personality type. A Choleric “attacks” the problem and goes to get help right away. However, once fitted with a hearing aid, or implanted with a cochlear implant, they may never interact with hard-of-hearing people again. To the choleric, their hearing problem is “fixed”. Those who DO get involved with hearing loss issues usually become major advocates, leaders, etc. Hearing loss does not usually affect the choleric, unless their hearing loss negatively affects their JOB. This damages their ego and self-esteem, and they may retreat and give up.A Sanguine will get help usually right away because they cannot communicate well with a hearing loss. (Which is the worse possible scenario for these “relational” individuals!) They many times will be involved with hearing loss issues and groups, because they love to interact. They can be negatively affected by hearing loss if it seems to hurt their relationships. If hearing loss results in divorce, or loss of partner who cannot accept the hearing loss, or children and/or parents who give negative feedback about their new communication “issues”, this can dramatically hurt this personality. These secondary losses can devastate a sanguine and even send them into depression, which rarely happens to this personality.A phlegmatic will be the bluffer. They may say, “I don’t have a hearing loss”. When the hearing loss finally results to where they are not bluffing well, then well-meaning family members can finally coerce them into going to get help. They may attend meetings and advocacy groups because a family member with a different personality talks them into it. (In other words, THEY MAKE THEM!) They many times will later get involved in “behind the scenes work”. A phlegmatic without support during their hearing loss crisis, may be the most prone to isolate themselves, and “hide” from real life. They may quit their jobs, quit church, and quit life.A melancholic is the most likely to be depressed and extremely emotional about their hearing loss. If friends and family members can “rally” them out of the blues, they will usually seek help and then become very compassionate advocates for hearing loss issues.
In conclusion, the Frederick County SHHH chapter decided that our personalities don’t change, but that we do all adjust to hearing loss differently. It was also noted that adjustments can be made… and then MORE hearing loss occur. Some personalities would simply adjust again, but to others, it may be “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. Some personalities cannot deal with progressive hearing loss as well as others. Denise Portis, Co-leaderFrederick County SHHHFrederick, MD

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