New Book Explores the History of ‘Cures’ for Deafness

New Book Explores the History of ‘Cures’ for Deafness

In ‘Hearing Happiness,’ deaf history professor weaves her own story in.

At four years old, Jaipreet Virdi’s world went quiet, the radio program Science Friday reports. A severe bout of meningitis left her deaf, and changed how she navigated in the world.

Jaipreet went through many treatments she was told would “cure” her hearing, including spiritual ceremonies and herbal solutions. Jaipreet’s experiences, plus a love of history, led her to write a new book: “Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History.”

In it, Jaipreet, who is an assistant professor of history at the University of Delaware, chronicles the historical record of deafness cures. These range from special diets and botanicals to a 1920s fad of airplane diving, where Deaf people were taken through a series of loops and dives in an airplane in an effort to regain their hearing.

In an interview, Jaipreet joins Ira Flatow to talk about the extremely personal task of writing Hearing Happiness, and why persistent stigma against deafness keeps dubious treatments alive.

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