What is stammering? What causes it? Can stuttering be overcome?
Over the last 30 years, the myriad of theories and speculations formed the enormous body of information about stammering. Pick and choose your own, depends on whatever you have heard before.
According to some of them, stammering is Tourette syndrome (TS), the form of palsy, a dysfunctional speaking apparatus, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TJS),disarray between the hemispheres of the brain, the physical fault in the brain, birth trauma, dog fright, form of schizophrenia (Gosh!) etc.
All these years. All this research. All this pompous theorizing. Yet, they are just as stuck. Nowhere near the solution. There isn’t even the common definition of what stammering is.
And, the bottom line is always the same – STAMMERING CANNOT BE OVERCOME! The advice is hardly reassuring – embrace it, fight it, control it and learn to live with it.
Blindfolded with the impenetrable veil of [useless] theories we become restricted to seeing stammering from only one [popularised] perspective – as an incurable disease. It is inconceivable to envisage even the remote possibility of ever achieving freedom [where no devices, no magic pills and no control are used].
Do as the doctors say.
After all, these are the authoritative figures, neuroscientists, professors, who formulate and propagate those “despairing” theories. How can we, hapless PWS’s, dare to doubt? Our role is to passively hope and wait for yet another idea (i.e. a clever app, a magic pill or device etc.) to come along and save us. Or better still, do our speaking for us so we don’t have to.
Believe what doctors tell you to believe. And, don’t forget to stutter.
My experience, as well as the experience of those who have shown significant improvement [or recovered], proves that stammering CAN be eliminated.
Dissolved. Permanently. No magic pills required.
I don’t mean to undervalue your scientific credentials. Own them, they are yours. But, let’s admit theorizing creates more complexity than clarity leading us further and further away from the ultimate solution.
And, the solution? Well, the solution lays beyond the complexity constructed by your mind. It is right here, only you are too blind to notice. You are too busy complicating and pontificating.
I intend to establish a common ground and provide clarity by sharing my compelling story of recovery. From fluency to stammering. From stammering to freedom of speech, thought and life.
I never stuttered in my childhood. Having learned to speak at the age of 3, I was beautifully fluent. There was no history of speech impediments in our family.
It all changed when I entered puberty.
I can still recall my first “stammering seizure“. My girlfriends asked me to call from a public phonebooth (there were no mobile phones back then). As my friends watched and listened in, I anxiously dialled the number.
My heart pounded as I awaited the response – «Yes?» – the person on the other end responded. I froze. Words stuck in my throat. My mind blank. Somehow I regained my senses and uttered – “Hello, I am calling to enquire about…”. The conversation was over in less than a minute.
The thoughts of embarrassment and confusion haunted me for days.
“What the hell came over me?”.
I hoped it wouldn’t happen again. But stammering seizures repeated. My academic performance took a nosedive. Speaking and reading our loud in class was suddenly beyond my abilities.
Refusing to speak in class, I soon earned the reputation of being dumb.
My timid attempts to explain the situation were met with sarcasm and brushed off. My educators were adamant as they thought “I was faking it to get a good mark without doing any work”.
The fact that my stutter was situational worked against me. Nobody believed me.
Not even the speech therapist. In her office, with my Mum by my side my speech flowed like a River (see Ruth Mead’s book «Speech is a River”).
Now, I was also a liar.
This was my only visit to the doctors. No further attempts at “fixing” my speech were made.
My stammer was simply disregarded as “the teenage thing“ and never discussed since. Me and my parents silently hoped that the problem would pass on its own just as it came.
But it never did. The school ended. I entered adulthood, hardly knowing who I was. My stutter matured, took root and flourished. It declared total control over my life.
At the age of 20, I moved to the UK. Alone.
Here, with no family close by and zero financial support, I aimlessly drifted from one dead-end job onto another to fulfil my most immediate physiological needs (see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).
I was always too embarrassed to talk about my stammer. I did not even admit to myself I had it. I thought I was “crazily shy”. “Who wants to know, anyway?” – I thought.
So, I made every attempt to hide it which made me look and act awkwardly. Some people even thought I was aggressive. It was the anxiety of course. That sense of agitation and urgency we all experience.
Too quiet, I did not fit in with work teams. This made me an easy target for predatory behaviour. A “stupid foreigner weirdo” I was given no slack. Being pushed around, bullied and victimized was my “normality”. I was even refused the employment contract once to which I was legally entitled but was too scared to demand.
Yes, I too was dismissed once. And deservedly so. My “communication skills were inadequate” – they said.
I sunk into depression digging myself deeper into the hole.
My life became intolerable. I wanted to scream but could hardly speak. The painful, meaningless existence. I felt as though I lived the life of someone else.
I knew I had to do something. Anything, or else my life would be over.
Part 2 coming soon…
Image by Tomasz Alen Kopera