Paranoia & Relationships with Sensory Changes

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  • 0:02 Sensory Changes
  • 2:43 Paranoia
  • 4:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

As we age, our sensory systems decline. We help this along by damaging our vision and hearing by doing foolish things. This decline in our senses leaves us in a world that is difficult and a little scary.

Sensory Changes

I have neighbors who love to listen to music loudly. So loud it makes the walls vibrate, and I have to turn up my own television just to watch my cartoons. What my neighbor likely doesn't understand is that when they're listening to music so loud, they are damaging their hearing. Let's discuss what that actually means, since most people don't seem to care that much.

The inner ear has a thing called the cochlea, which is a fluid-filled organ that detects changes in pressure, translating this into signals to the brain. Imagine a snail shell. When sound hits your ears, it goes through a series of small bones that push on the cochlea. This pushing causes the liquid inside it to move, tickling little hairs. These little hairs activate neurons, which send signals to the brain.

When people say, 'You'll damage your hearing,' most people seem to just brush it off. What is actually happening is the little hairs in your cochlea are being ripped out, and that is the least gross thing that happens. The cochlea can actually tear and begin to scar over, leading to pus and blood mixing with the fluid. Yeah, think about that. After a loud concert, you actually have blood inside your ear. This, in turn, leads to difficulty hearing in the future.

Damage also occurs to the eye, although in a slightly different way. The sensitive part of the eye, or retina, which is a collection of sensory neurons capable of detecting light, will begin to wear out. There is also the issue of floaters, which are small tears in the proteins of the eye. You've probably already seen them, or you are seeing them in your eye right now. To me, they look like strings of hazy bubbles that drift across my eye, moving whenever I move my eye.

Now, combine the hearing damage and general aging declines, and you have a person who is effectively deaf. Mixing in difficulty seeing, and you have someone who has trouble seeing things and hearing things. Quickly, let's take a look at what this is like.

(inaudible mumbling)

I said, 'Hi, my name is Devin. Nice day we're having.'

See how disconcerting that is? To not know exactly what was going on around you? That leads to our next point: paranoia.


As we just demonstrated, a loss of visual acuity and hearing is an issue. People with this tend to socially isolate themselves, withdraw from people they know and new situations, and they can have anxiety, suffer from depression, and/or paranoia.

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