Thursday, January 12, 1995

Three aspects of stuttering

To Martin Schwartz (about three aspects of his model)

> Indeed I think all three "theories" are "correct" i.e. they cover
> likely important aspects of the stuttering phenomenon, but I fail
> to see how your model is a particularly parsimonious way to account
> for them.

Schwartz answers that only his model integrates all three aspectw in a comprehensive way. As such he believes it is parsimonious.

> An organic weakness can easily make someone more vulnerable to
> tension (some people blush instead of stuttering - my palms sweat...AND
> I (used to) stutter under tension). In addition, when faced with
> difficulties, we learn behaviors that seem to help us overcome them.
> Sometimes these behaviors end up being worse than the problem. Persons
> who blush may cover their faces with their hands, which may end up
> being more noticeable than the blushing...

Schwartz agrees that there is an organic weakness

> In this context one can have therapies that work at decreasing tension,
> unlearning uproductive behaviors and/or learning good ones, and, if
> a good drug is found, the "root" organic problem might be addressed
> as well (too much or too little seratonen...or what have you).

Schwartz agrees

> What additional explanation justifies the extra complexity of your
> model? I do see one advantage in the detailed cause-effects you
> have spelled out - as I understand them - and that is that there
> are instances where the model can be seen to fail. The model I
> very simply expressed is NOT very useful in the sense that it is hard
> to figure out a test case where it would fail. Again, a good model
> is one for which one can at least think of a situation where, if the
> situation applies, the model fails. If a particular model can never
> fail it's not particularly useful, and this includes the one I
> expressed.

Schwartz denies that his model is "complex" and doesn't understand my second point
(if there is no situation for which the model can fail, then it's not a good model - This is a fundamental concept in science)
> Now, your model IS useful in postulating the dominant causative role
> of vocal chords, because now we can test it! If the vocal chords are
> not involved stuttering shouldn't happen. Evidence has been cited, such
> as stuttering behavior in sign language... and you have dismissed it
> as irrelevant to the problem. I am still scratching my head trying to
> figure out how you can possibly consider it irrelevant. How could
> it be more central? Also, have you had a chance to look at the other
> evidence involving vocal chords (I don't recall whether it dealt
> with surgery or paralysis, but it was cited by Woody and you said
> you wanted to find out more about the extent etc.)?

Schwartz doesn't consider stuttering in sign language "stuttering", so point is irrelevant to him. He also claims that the laryngectomy literature supports his model.

> While I am stirring the pot, let me bring up one situation that
> is not explained even by the weak model I presented. You mentioned it
> in a response to the list: that of "sudden" and "complete" cures.
> I encountered one person who claimed to have awakened one day with
> not a trace of his previous stuttering. I also know of people who
> claim to have had out-of-body experiences. Are we here in the realm
> of parapsychology or have serious studies been done of such cases?
> I can see how "complete" cure can be a matter of perception. I could
> start saying that about myself and probably nobody would argue, but
> "sudden"? As if someone could shake a loose wire in the brain and
> re-establish a missing contact? Any ideas?
Schwartz says that he will relate his experience on people who "stopped" stuttering later on.

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