Theories About Stammering And What To Take From Them

Speech impediments date as far back as 384 BC and there’s still no cure for stammering that has been found. Demosthenes was an orator in Ancient Athens, which is what we call a public speaker. He rehearsed for his speeches with marbles in his mouth.

Do you fancy doing that?

There’s no need; don’t worry.

When you find yourself in a stammering crisis, or simply feel as though you’re enduring a prolonged agony having put up with it for so long, there comes a time when you have to bang the gavel and retake control of your vocal chords.

Even Moses had the same problem as you.

“O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

~ Exodus 4:10

Then in Acts 7:22

“Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.”

If only it were as simple as praying to be granted wisdom.

It can be, because notice in that last quote the word educated is there.

That’s something you can do. Educate yourself.

Here’s the thing…

Speech pathologists, therapists, psychologists, researchers and anyone else to have searched for a stammering cure – haven’t found it. There’s been no evolution and you do not have centuries to sit around and wait for some wisdom to learn about speaking better.

It is dismal so pick up a bit of humour

The best temporary cure you’ll find for it is laughter. Drew Lynch hit the comedy circuit in the US last year and is testament to humour. His wit surrounding the topic is unparalleled.

I’ve never witnessed anyone with such courage to tackle their stammer head on, put themselves in front of an audience of millions and stare fear right in the face, overcoming every barrier and reaching the finals of America’s version of Britain’s Got Talent.

If only us Brits with a stammer had the brass neck to do that. Well to be fair Gareth Gates did.

Know what’s already known about stammering therapy techniques

There are quite a few ways you can practice on your speech without putting marbles in your mouth. One of the ones to somehow be frequently mentioned is deliberate stammering.

You do not want to be doing that.

Here’s why…

Theory papers have been around for a while, and it might be that they’ve been buried for so long that they need to resurface to remind people of what’s already out there.

The theory of Ralph Haefner

Back in 1929, Ralph Haefner worked on a theory surrounding the vocal atrocities of speech impediments people were struggling with. His theory was a cerebral imbalance, causing nerves to be distorted, thus distorting speech patterns.

It was considered that if you were left-handed, you were slower to learn vocabulary and produce fluent speech.

At the time Haefner was working on his theory, Wendell Johnson was attending the same University as a student. A student with one severe stutter that he was determined to devote his life’s study and work to find the cause and the cure for it.

Wendell Johnson
Wendell Johnson

As the smart student he was, he became a test subject on many an experiment.

He was psychoanalysed, hooked up with electrodes, put under hypnosis, and sat in freezing cold water while his tremors were recorded, all in the name of research.

For the cerebral dominance theory of Haefner, Johnson had his dominant right hand put in a cast in an effort to rectify the imbalance – to no success.

Johnson Creates the Monster Study in 1939

The Monster Study is one of the worst in the history of human testing. The theory itself was by Dr. Wendell Johnson, but he had Mary Tudor conduct the experiment on orphans.

They didn’t find the cure for it, but they sure did lasting damage to the kids who had fluent speech before the experiment began. The selected group with fluent speech received negative treatment, making them believe they had a stammer, and soon they developed one.

So from that, you can take that negative influencing will never cure a stammer, so deliberate stammering will not work.

I should point out that the University of Iowa, where that experiment took place, has since apologised for the incident back in 2001.

Finding “You” Amidst The Chaos

It can constantly feel that in every conversation you have, you are the elephant in the room. Researchers can’t figure out much about stammering, let alone the person you’re asking for a cappuccino from in the coffee shop.

Even parents of kids who stammer find it difficult to come to terms that despite this having been around for centuries, there’s nothing positive in the way of rectifying it.

People struggle to understand why others stammer, and some treat it as a disability.

Some feel it is, while others go out their way to improve speech knowing it’s not. Sure it’s a bit of a handicap but you can speak when you’re given time.

The latter is the better path to travel, and when you do you’ll find it’s a journey into you. And a journey to understand you better.

It will give you the time to evaluate you, and take control of your life.

One of the most significant things self-help forces you into doing is dealing with fear. Every spoken word in public raises fear. Fear is paralysing even for those without a stammer.

You know about superstitions, right? Those are fears.

In life everybody has fears. It’s the reason for all the phobias and superstitions…

• Fear of the colour red

• Fear of the number 13

• Never putting new shoes on a table

• Going out of your way to prevent walking on three drains. Walk on one is fine, hop on the second, but dare to step foot on that third and it is cold sweats.

• Then there are those who live their lives under the rules of the magpie nursery rhyme.

Fears are nothing more than superstitions. You never know what’s going happen until you confront the fear head on. Drew Lynch did it in front of millions by getting up on stage and having fun with his stammer.

There’s nothing bad going to happen if you confront your fear and dare to be heard. The more you speak, you may feel as though your stammering is getting worse, but by speaking more, you are practicing more, and since you’re aware of how you speak, it will help to think about your words before you say them aloud. If you trip up, nobody cares as much as you think they do.

There’s going to be no cures for stammering coming from any university any time soon, but there are still those who have managed to find a way to speak better. It might take you something like Samuel L Jackson’s approach, where he leans on the swear word Mother F***er to help keep his stammer at bay and he didn’t even know about that until he realised when he said the words, his speech was improved. Why it works for him, who knows? Not even he himself can answer that conclusively.

Speak more and you might find yourself stumbling onto words that help ground your speech and give you more breakthroughs as you progress on the path of self-improvement. It’s a journey and you don’t have to travel it alone. There are millions of good people out there online, on Facebook, taking part in Meetup Groups, local group meetings, and more forum chats where you don’t even need to speak. You can type chat.

Start your year with a goal of improving you. It may mean confronting fear head on, but it also means you can move past that fear much faster.

There’s no need to fear the unspoken word.

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