Establishing the consensus: What is stuttering?

This article gives consice explaination as to what is stuttering.

What is stuttering?

When people write to me asking about stuttering, and the precise steps I took to reach freedom, it becomes clear that they have no idea what stuttering is.

And, how can you find a solution if you don’t know what the problem is? How can you reach a destination if you have no idea where you are heading?

You expect to be given “the ultimate recovery guide”, yet another quick fix that will magically free you from stuttering. I have no such guide, no set of exercises, and even if I gave it to you, lacking a deeper understanding of the problem and its mechanisms, any instructions would seem pointless to you, and wouldn’t work anyway.

You don’t need yet another guide, another technique. What PWS’s do need, however, is to firstly, understand what stuttering is and, secondly, adopt an entirely new approach to dealing with it. By doing this you will be able to gradually dissolve stuttering as opposed to being fighting against, “curing” it or trying to control it.

Let’s see if official institutions provide any answers or clarity.

The NHS’s leaflet «Stammering advice for families» reads: “Stammering or stuttering is an overall label for an interruption in the flow of someone’s speech”.

American National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) states: “Stuttering is a speech disorder characterized by the repetition of sounds, syllables, or words; prolongation of sounds; and interruptions in speech known as blocks.”

Worryingly, the authorities too don’t know what stuttering is and only present the list of its observable manifestations. Moreover, they admit that “the precise mechanisms that cause stuttering are not understood. No commons cause is established.

Researchers that have taken the heavy responsibility of explaining everything from a «scientific» point of view, don’t have the answers either.

They explain thatA lot of what appears to be a research on stammering is not research on stammering. Instead, it’s more general research on the speech-motor system, genetics, language and so on, and people who stammer are just one of the groups tested.”

Aimless drifting. Beating around the bush on the global scale. And today it must stop. Let’s establish the common ground, the consensus NOW.

What is stuttering?

The great many faces of stuttering. The way I see it.

Until now stuttering succeeded in stringing us all along. Ha-ha!  A great many disguises of stuttering. It presented itself as autism, asymmetry of brain hemispheres, underdeveloped articulators, and even schizophrenia.

Contrary to “scientific” beliefs stuttering is not a physical [or tangible problem] but is deeply rooted in your psychology.

If there was a “tangible” physical impairment to your brain or articulators, you would not be able to speak fluently on your own, sing, talk effortlessly with children and animals. You wouldn’t experience those glimpses of “unexplained fluency” when you forget yourself for a moment, and begin to speak without a shadow of disfluency.

Having a physical malfunction means you would stutter non-stop, regardless of a situation or setting.

Stuttering originates in your Belief system [or unique set of principles which you unconsciously refer to interpret your everyday reality i.e. good or bad].

One day you came to believe and associate the simple act of speaking with something very unpleasant, distressing, dangerous or even punishable. It doesn’t matter what had precisely happened to you, but since then the prospect of speaking began to cause nervousness, anxiety and/or even fear. More on the subject of beliefs, please click HERE.

Propelled by anxiety\fear, every time you must speak you react anxiously, feel panicky, your palms become clammy, you fidget and feel pressured for time, speak too fast, the heart begins to race. In other words, you are frightened.

Fear is activated as a safety reaction to prevent you from engaging with the activity that “last time” caused a highly emotional and painful reaction. Your reptilian brain that activates fear, doesn’t know if the situation was genuinely dangerous to your life or not. All its registers is the fact that last time you felt very distressed. It knows it because you felt bad, overreacted, felt scared, your heart raced, you were emotionally hurt, frightened.

Fear protects you. If you are afraid of something, you won’t do it. When you do feel scared or nervous, your attention turns inward, onto your inner experience. Feelings self-conscious, you worry about what others might think, find it difficult to concentrate, you feel inferior, become painfully aware of what you say and how you say it.

Added to the equation is your “unconscious” fixation on speech as you obsessively and compulsively try to control it.You madly monitor your every breath, every sound, anticipate, rehearse every word in your mind, what if it gets stuck, what filler words, what crutch shall I employ etc. You virtually orchestrate every finest detail.

Consciously controlling speech, you interfere with the very complex process. In fluent speakers, this task is fully delegated to the unconscious mind. You do yourself great disfavour by attempting to micro-manage speaking. As a result, your speech flow is disrupted. Disruptions manifest in what you experience as “repetition of sounds, syllables, or words; prolongation of sounds; and interruptions in speech known as blocks”. In other words, you stutter!

What you focus on expands. You get more of what you so desperately try to avoid.

You believe system sets you up for stuttering even before you open your mouth.

To break the vicious cycle and cease stuttering blocks, you will need to abandon the old Belief system and replace it with a new and effective one. The one that will not interfere with your speech disrupting its nature given flow, pace, rhythm, timbre etc.

Now, that is NOT easy as you have been holding on to your erroneous beliefs for 10, 15, maybe 20 years. Over the years “the programme” has become so ingrained and unconscious you don’t even realise you act and live your life according to it; hence you cannot control your stuttering.

Your stuttering reaction will cease once you alter “your programming” – your Belief system.

In summary:

Stuttering is learned reaction to speaking encounters and is rooted in your psychology rather than being a physical impairment to the brain.

It is unconscious hence you cannot control stuttering and cannot stop stuttering at will. Stuttering is something YOU DO habitually based on your Belief system.

Your stuttering reaction will gradually dissolve once you alter the programming – your Belief system.

P.S. Have you ever considered your stuttering could be caused by your thinking,perceptions and habitual behaviour?

**Please note: Cases where stuttering came out as a result of a traumatic head injury and/or stroke were excluded from my study.

All text is copyrighted. Please include the link to my blog if refer to it elsewhere.

Art work by Tomasz Alen Kopera

My story: from hopelessness and isolation to the unconditional freedom (Part 2).

Beneath the debris of complexity lays the answer. Are you ready to leave the prison?

My ascend began at 26.

Out of despair and not knowing where to turn, I went to the local speaker’s club (see Liverpool Speakers Club). The most unlikely place a person who stutters would go to, and yet I was there. Here, I met people from a well-known speech therapy course, and they advised I try it. Having never been on speech therapy, I signed up.

My life was divided into “before” and “after”.

The course pulled me out of depression. I felt like I left the prison. But the novelty effect and initial euphoria wore off. Now my “freedom” was conditional upon following all the instructions and using control tools. I soon realised that I did not want any forms of control.

And, how would you prefer to speak? Constantly controlling and thinking about your speech or effortlessly and without thinking about it?

Unconditional, uncontrolled freedom was what I wanted. Full stop.

But how? This I didn’t yet know.

All I knew was that the less control I used, the better my speech got. Despite being warned that my fluency wouldn’t hold up for long without control, it was getting stronger every day.

I stayed on the speech therapy. I liked the social element of it, and I think this experience was essential for me to gain greater insight into the problem.

Watching, hearing and discussing experiences of others, I was getting intrigued to find out how does stammering work.

  • Why people still stutter whilst presenting in front of a familiar audience?
  • Why fluency fluctuates?
  • Why people don’t stutter when talking to children or animals?
  • Why stammering sometimes appears in adults (after the age of 20)?
  • Why we stutter whilst speaking to people in authority?
  • Why people stutter less or more when drunk?
  • Why people don’t stutter when on their own?
  • What genetics have to do with stammering?
  • Why feeling confidence makes us more fluent?

I noticed that my stammering followed a certain pattern. At times, I used techniques and still struggled. Other times, I did not and yet spoke fluently. I was intrigued and began making observations. Who would have thought that what started as a personal experiment, went on to become full-scale independent investigation involving over 200 people?

Research into stuttering.

Over last 7 years, I reviewed countless academic journals, experimented, made and recorded hundreds of observations, read multiple books (incl. John Harrison), conducted and participated in over 70 conversations, and analysed personal accounts of PWS’s all over the world with the main contributors being Russia and the UK.

What was eventually uncovered surpassed all my expectations. I wasn’t ready for that. It was a revelation. The new paradigm with the potential to change the way stammering is perceived and addressed.

From all the data collected it transpired that stammering follows and is driven by one single algorithm in 98% of cases [***there were some exclusions]. Circumstances surrounding the onset of stammering greatly vary. The mechanism that triggers and maintains stammering remains the same across all cases. 

All earlier theories, perceptions and speculations seemed to have been magically reduced to one common denominator.

I intend to speak for us all. Be the voice of all of you that were directly or indirectly involved in making this reality.

I am not a Speech therapist but am an extremely inquisitive independent researcher. I believe, this circumstance allowed me to look at the speech impediment from an unconventional angle. Bypassing all the complexity, I simplified the problem and arrived at the solution.

Of course, it will not work for all as nobody can change you unless you are willing and ready to be changed.

Who is my blog for?

My knowledge will benefit:

  • Open-minded people that know there is more to stammering than what is already known.
  • Certain that stammering is not a disease.
  • Believe unconditional freedom from stammering is achievable.
  • Ready to take responsibility for their speech and life.
  • Ready to leave earlier theories behind and built the new foundation.
  • Unhappy with their current situation and are genuinely motivated to change.

Don’t waste your time reading my blog if you:

  • Adhere to «conventional» views on the problem.
  • Believe in “the magic pill”
  • Believe that stammering cannot be overcome.
  • Quick to blame external circumstances (i.e. the society, parents etc) for their “misfortune” and capriciously demand acceptance.
  • Comfortable with your current position and don’t want to change a thing.

I strongly believe that the conceptually new outlook is what urgently needed if we are to ever solve the puzzle and eliminate stammering for good. FOR ALL!

Enough theorising, it is time to show you what you can achieve!

P.S. If you can relate to my story and would like to learn more about my findings, please leave a comment and follow my blog so as not to miss future posts.

**Please note I don’t endorse any courses or therapies.

***Psychogenic cases of stammering were excluded from the study.

From hopelessness and isolation to unconditional freedom. My story [part 1].

Many theories, much research. Will we ever find the cure to stuttering?

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.

Or….?

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