CBC article complains Ottawa residents are suffering from 'phantom honking' after trucker protests

CBC News spoke to a clinical psychologist who said that downtown Ottawa residents hearing "phantom honking" are experiencing "mild trauma."


CBC News published an article over the weekend featuring several downtown Ottawa residents who claim that they're still haunted by "phantom honking" following the weeks-long Freedom Convoy protest in the nation's capital.

According to the CBC, for many residing in Ottawa, the sounds of honking, horns, and other truck-related noises continue to linger after the Trudeau crackdown on the freedom protest. Despite a lack of trucks, citizens are raising complaints about sounds at night that prevent them from sleeping and disrupt their day.

Truckers in Ottawa protesting the government's COVID-19 restrictions had demonstrated on Parliament Hill to capture the attention of government officials—and residents—around them. The trucking protest made international headlines, garnering traction as well in the US with the DC-bound "People's Convoy."

Kevin, a resident of the city, compared the constant sound of trucks to "torture."

"Literally there were trucks right underneath me," Kevin told reporters at CBC News. "It was one thing for me, but I've got animals. I've got three cats, two dogs. So yeah, it was torture," he was quoted in the article saying.

When the protest finally started to clear out, Kevin expected the sounds to leave with the trucks. But that didn't happen, Kevin maintained.

"When you hear that noise, it's like, 'Oh, are they back? Is there a road convoy coming back, right?'" resident Sean Flynn, who lives about three kilometres from downtown, told CBC News, noting that he could still hear the horns inside his home during the Freedom Convoy protest. "I felt I was constantly doing these sort of double takes ... it almost feels a bit re-traumatizing."

Downtown resident Zakir Virani said he hears phantom honking at night, which keeps him awake. "It's hard to explain because I think with any post-traumatic stress-induced thinking, it's not very rational. You're not actually hearing honking," he said to CBC News, adding that he experiences "constant on-edgeness" and "fear" any time he steps outside since the Freedom Convoy protest.

The so-called "phantom honking"—the term being used to describe the purported phenomenon—is something CBC News reports that a clinical researcher is calling a form of short-term, "mild trauma." Dr. Peter Liu, a clinical psychologist from Ottawa, said that the human brain often adapts to accommodate existing patterns. Sometimes that means the brain responds to previous stimuli, according to Liu.

"These sounds become sort of embedded in the mind, kind of like the way trauma leads to flashbacks," Liu told reporters at CBC News. "Even long after this has happened, the brain is still in a hyper-vigilant state and expects more honking.”

Liu said that the apparent affliction should be temporary for residents. In the meantime, he suggested diverting attention from the phantom noises by introducing other sounds like music, ambient noise, or changing locations.

"I have so much phantom concern," quipped Quillette editor Jonathan Kay in response to the CBC News article. Others mocked the report on social media.

"I hope they are going to be okay," said Spectator editor Stephen L. Miller.

During the height of the Freedom Convoy protest, an Ontario judge granted an injunction to prevent honking in downtown Ottawa. The lawyer who is representing residents of Ottawa in a class action lawsuit against the truckers claimed that the "loud and prolonged honking" caused harm to those living nearby. Truckers in downtown Ottawa responded by honking.


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