A rare, complex, psycho-acoustic phenomenon is Bing’s syndrome, in which the sufferer hears a highly-organised tinnitus which resembles a known series of sounds. One victim heard the same few lines of an army ballad of his youth repeated over and over again. (Bing’s syndrome must be distinguished from the kind of hallucination experienced by those suffering from major mental illness such as schizophrenia. The victim of Bing’s syndrome may fear that madness is imminent, but is aware that the sound heard is really a noise in the head. The schizophrenic hears a voice conveying delusional ideas, believes them and acts upon them.)
Tinnitus may result from almost any ear disease. In the early post-war years most cases resulted from chronic middle-ear infection. Now, the majority result from presbyacusis. Any conductive or sensorineural pathology may be responsible. Tinnitus also occurs in the normally-hearing, but the vast majority of sufferers have some degree of hearing loss.