Monday, February 12, 1996

The consequences of different views

John says that we disagree on the nature of the speech block "because each of us is talking from a different body of experience" and it may be therefore impossible to reconcile our differences.

Well, unless we are solipsists, one of us is giving a wrong interpretation to
his experience. At this point I am neither interested in "being right" nor
"agreeing to disagree" and leaving it at that. Particularly because you are so
influential in the stuttering community and command a lot of respect, it is
important that the consequences of your (and, more modestly, my) thinking be as clear and unanbiguous as possible, and, perhaps, stimulate tests and other ideas.

The consquences of a psychological etiology of stuttering (as you hold) are as

1. Figure out the psycho/emotional system that holds stuttering together (e.g.
hexagon) and you can, with time and effort, cure the problem.

2. Research in organic causes would, at best, reveal some predisposition to mild
(no blocks or prolongations) disfluency, but could not yield a cure to adult chronic stuttering.

The consequences of an organic view are as follows:

1. An organic cause for stuttering (including blocks), and, as a consequence,
the possibility of a cure, appear very likely and should be the object of
intensive research.

2. Research on the psycho/emotional system that becomes evident in stuttering
can yield to better (un)control (sorry!) of the speech mechanism in adults and,
perhaps, prevent children from learning maladptive behaviors that would further lower their "stuttering threshold".

3. Depending on the nature of the organic cause, it is plausible that it might
be affected (for better or for worse) by changes in the body, hormones (male vs
female ratios), aging (disappearing problem) etc.

I am sure there is much more, in both areas, that I am not thinking of.

Regarding the speech evolution scenarios you mention, they neither prove, nor contradict a starting organic predisposition. In the presence of a problem, the speech mechanism (micro-system) continues to evolve and to incorporate the (bad) coping mechanisms that lead to blocking. PERHAPS at this level it is possible to prevent blocking from becoming "entranched"in spite of a predisposition to do so. I guess this is what Woody would base his ideas on childhood prevention...
(right Woody?).

If this is indeed possible, then it is conceivable that somebody born with the organic predisposition to stutter might be prevented from doing so. So here is some common ground with your view.... more to follow.

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