After a cross-country flight, a woman turned to her husband and said, "That was beautiful music they were playing on the airplane." Her husband looked at her and said, "No, there was no music." She didn't believe him until their return flight, when she again heard the music. It wasn't until he put his hearing aids in that she realized the music was in her head.
Neil Bauman, director of Center for Healing Loss Help, calls it Musical Ear Syndrome, and he's documented more than 1,500 cases of it. He explains it like this: Think of your brain as a system of highways. Cars usually stay on the right highways, but occasionally, one will sneak across. If a "car," or sound, from your memory routes itself onto the auditory highway, then the brain perceives it as coming from your ears -- in other words, it treats it as real.
It's so often misdiagnosed, though, that many people -- and sometimes their doctors -- believe they are simply going crazy.
"Very few doctors know anything about it," Bauman said. "Doctors may laugh at patients, or put them on psychiatric drugs. They're often not getting sensitive treatment."
Ruling out a brain tumor or other cause can ease people's fear, and Bauman's hope is that the more people learn about it, the more the stigma will get erased.
Odd Hallucination: Woman Hears Forgotten Songs