Recognising Stammering As An Organism

The definition of an organism is a living thing. It’s something we can see hence it tells us that it is real. For a stammerer, on the surface of things, the stammer tells them the problem is real. Yet, there are so many people who feel that they have cured their stammer, and then all of a sudden, something happens and they experience the dreaded relapse.

It’s chronically disappointing for that to happen to anyone, after they’ve experienced the jubilance of overcoming the stammer, only to find themselves right back at square one, attempting to do it all over again.

A stammer needs to be recognised as an organism for it to be effectively treated. When you stammer, you’re only hearing the problem, but beneath the surface there’s a lot going on to feed it and raise it to the surface.

Dr. Sheehan’s Stuttering Iceberg Analogy does an excellent job at helping people understand the entities that enable the stammer to rise to the surface.

When you look at the pyramid below, think of it as an iceberg:

Stammering pyramid

Right at the top, you have the stammer. In Dr. Sheehan’s Iceberg Analogy, that’s the part above the waterline. The rest of the iceberg is hidden beneath the water.

The stammering is the part that you know to be real. Beneath the surface are all the entities that contribute to the stammer rising to the top of the pyramid. If any one of these is not addressed, then a relapse is likely to happen.

The very bottom of the pyramid is denial. This is the false sense that some people experience when they finally cure the stammer. They feel that it is gone, thus all the other emotions above are gone too.

The problem’s away, so they feel accomplished. But for adult stammerers, they will always have some of those emotions hidden deep in their mind. They’ve experienced each emotion probably multiple times, so they get on great for a while when they can control the stammer.

Then one day they can’t!

Something goes wrong in the psychology cycle. They get a new job and are asked to give a presentation. They experience grief or any sudden strong emotion and in that moment, a slight stammer occurs.

Up crops fear, oh no, not this again. Accompanying that, they may experience a sense of shame that all the hard work was for nothing, denying the reality of the stammer and now feeling anxious to speak to people again.

Isolation creeps in and all of a sudden the stammer organism re-activates.

It’s like a virus.

You treat the problem to kill it and think it’s gone, but the spores are just dormant. They’re not completely killed off and if it’s given the right conditions, it will reactivate.

That’s much like what happens with a stammer. Everyone who has ever experienced it has the emotional baggage that comes along with it.

Anything out of the ordinary experienced at any point in life, can reactivate the stammer, thus resulting in a relapse.

To treat the problem you have to the treat the symptoms. This is why in speech therapy for children who stammer, the family are given advice on how to deal with the stammer when it happens. The speech therapy cannot be successful without some sort of family therapy being in place to support the child.

Treating adult stammerers can be done in much the same way. You need to have support around you, and the best advice to deal with the issues that are hidden beneath the surface.

Emotions are the feeding ingredients of the problem. Recognise and deal with the hidden problems, and you can prevent the stammer from rising to the surface.

To help you to do that, you’ll find a lot of valuable information around this site, but more than that, there are self-help products available, as well as the stammering course. If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to help.

Steve Hill

Tel: 0121 453 9208 or email

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