Frequently Asked Questions about Stuttering
What is stuttering and/or stammering?
Stuttering (or stammering) is the term used to describe a communication disorder in which there is some difficulty in the timing and flow of speech, or the speech is broken by repetitions, prolongations of sounds or syllables, and blunt stoppages or silent blocks. Frustrations can also create unnatural body of facial movements, like stamping a foot or twitching the head.
Why do I feel so self critical and ashamed about my stutter?
It is a pain, really it is, but stuttering tends to become a habit over time. The more you try to stop, the worse it seems to get, and the worse it gets, the more isolated and self conscious you tend to become. For some people, the attitudes of others, completely undermine their self-confidence and self-image and self-esteem. Other emotional fears may also develop around speech, or body image, or feelings, or all three.
What causes stuttering and/or stammering?
I don't think anybody really knows. There seems to be connection to a speech nerve disorder in the brain. But how does that account for the fact that most stutterers and stammerers don't do it all the time? Many find they don't stutter when they sing, read aloud, talk to themselves, whisper, shout, swear, and lots of other times. During such times you may have high/low anxiety pre-event, or high/low anxiety post event, so no connection there, except it seems that sufferers stutter less when they are less anxious. So we may conclude that stress plays a role, and if that's true, then de-stressing techniques should help.
But what if it's stress induced through trauma, then stress is the fuel and the original trauma the trigger. But experts say no. In fact experts disagree about every proposed potential cause that has been studied for a hundred years. Anyone can say what it's not. To me a true expert is someone who says what it IS, or what it COULD BE! If it's a learned behaviour, de-learn it (is that a real term?), and re-learn new behaviour. If it's brought on by trauma, de-sensitize from the trauma and move on (PTSD for example).
So, were left with, genetics, early child development, neuro-physiology and immediate family. That amounts to, your parents, early experiences at home and school, what people say and what people do, and living up to what's expected of you. It's always peach when you can blame somebody else, right?
I tend not to focus on the cause of the stutter/stammer. I tend to treat symptomatically, unless there is an obvious possible cause lurking in the background somewhere, like, well, it doesn't matter what like; tapping it away (using EFT), like it's the driver, and reducing it's impact, allows you to carry on treating, with the potential negatives of the trauma out of the way.
What's the difference between 'Stutter or Stuttering' and 'Stammer or Stammering'?
Nothing. It is the same fluency of voice condition. It's just that in the US it is 'stuttering' and in the UK we tend to say 'stammering'.
How many people stutter?
It is estimated that around 1% of the worldwide population stutter and stammer. In the United States, that's over 3 million Americans who stutter, and over 600,000 people who stammer in the United Kingdom.
What is your CD designed to do?
To reach as many of that 3.6 million as possible (who want to try), in an effort to help them control their stutter, heal their stutter, and generally improve their fluency of speech. To improve their self confidence, self awareness, and ability to communicate. In addition to the 3.6 million in the USA and the UK, there are around 65+ million in the world who stutter and stammer. Who is helping them?
Is there a cure for stuttering/stammering?
People cure themselves of conditions and diseases and terminal illness every day, even cancer. A lot of these individuals are people who have been told, there is no known cause, and no cure for their condition. But they failed to understand statments like that mean you should give up hope, go home, sit in a chair and gradually fade away, because there is nothing anyone can do for you. They either didn't hear, or deliberately ignored the advice, and decided to do something about it themselves.
Now, back to your question. Is there a cure for stuttering or stammering? Are you going to argue now there is no cure? There are 100's of websites out there that repeat the statement that: No cure has yet been discovered for stuttering or stammering, and to be very suspicious of anyone who claims otherwise. Well, it would be foolhardy to claim a cure, but the aim is to help the stutterer or stammerer create change in a powerful, positive, lasting way.
Is a massive 8" plate screwed to a broken leg bone a cure for broken leg? No, it stops you limping, and enables you to walk, but it's not a cure. So maybe we have to concede there is no 'cure' as cure means at the moment. But it is possible to make long lasting change that can help you control and regulate your speech pattern, to make significant progress toward fluency, and gain emotional freedom from the negative effects of stuttering or stammering. That is what the CD is designed to do (previous question).
What are the usual issues faced by people who stutter?
The biggest one I find is anger of the self. The idea that somehow this isn't a real disease, or condition you can take tablets for, so what am I supposed to do? It is frustratingly difficult to do anything about it without guidance. In fact most attempts at a recovery only make the stutter worse, and that includes with guidance. Anger of the self is particularly destructive emotionally and physically. Frustration and the inability to communicate fluently are the main drivers here.
If you are new to schooling, you will undoubtedly become the subject of ridicule from your more unsavoury classmates. And, if you wear glasses and stutter, then your parents will probably find themselves permanently on guard in your defence. It may not be quite as bad as that, but it has been noted by several studies that overprotective parents, who try to force change, can actually establish the stutter as a permanent condition, even though that is the last thing they want. I wouldn't mind betting heavily that the tormenting at school is mightily responsible for long term stuttering, perhaps even into adulthood.
Stutterers can, of course, fall prey to depression, which you can take medication for. In fact, all of the anxiety, phobias, depression, diseases brought on by worry, and other emotional trauma felt by the stutterer, can be dealt with over the counter, except the cause; except the stutter.
It's not unusual for a stutterer to become fearful of certain situations, such as answering the telephone, the front door, or being asked directions. Speaking in public is a definite no-no. This puts the stutterer at a clear disadvantage when applying for jobs, serving customers, chairing meetings, auditioning, all manner of things. Stutterers can develop fear of certain situations, phrases, certain words, even their own name, which they will come to avoid at all costs.
Certain mannerisms can become dominant, like stamping the foot to create a system shock to help get a word out, flicking the fingers, or head, or resorting to a launching word, like 'well....', 'and.....', 'what.....', to start every sentence. The physical mannerisms are what seem to attach a stigma to stuttering, but avoiding certain words by using synonyms can make speech seem 'unnatural', and this can sometimes make the stutterer seem less well educated.
Are stutterers and stammerers less intelligent than fluent speakers?
Glad you asked that. NO!
Do I have to deal with the original initiating trauma before my stutter control will take effect?
Assuming your stutter was initiated by some kind of trauma, not everyone's is, your body went through a series of internal events, usually at some disorganizing, rapid speed, and created a result that it could live with. Trauma can be over a long time, like bullying or abuse, or it can be rapid, like a car accident. Trauma that occurs over a long time, is usually made up of seperate episodes, such as in the case of bullying. It is only with hindsight that we view them collectively.
So each event is a stand alone trauma that the body is having to deal with. These events can be so fast, or confusing (why does this person, who should love me, treat me this way?), that the body can't deal with all of the data that is coming in, and so it downloads the data into the body and places it wherever it can, to process later. A way to describe it is like using a liquidizer without the lid on. The bulk of the material may be in place, but fragments are splattered everywhere and do not necessarily end up back in the container, as you wipe them up and dispose of them. In this way the body/mind connection is incomplete. Fragments of data are left around the cells of the body. The organizing force does not have a clear picture of how to cope with the trauma, and so it does the best it can.
Our responses can be made more unclear because, when the mind and body are expecting this repeated behaviour, it now has to prepare for it in one way, but hope it goes away with another. This uncertainty and erratic exchange of data creates a behaviour pattern that is based solely on survival. The body must survive however it can, so it logs and files its coping strategy for use later. And, each time something similar happens (only similar mind you, it doesn't have the be the same event), the body responds as it thinks it needs to, to survive.
The point here is, you can become anxious, you adopt certain behaviours, you become hypervigilant, on the lookout for certain chains of events, you become stressed, uncertain, self conscious, and your body responds accordingly. The misguided information that is coming in from all the fragments of data left from the original traumas, upset the balance, and have to be dealt with too. If one of your coping strategies was to think fast, talk fast, falter on words and just get by, the more that worked for you, the more the body returns to its original source of survival, when applying more and more events to the same coping strategy. A stutter can simply be a byproduct of that strategy, hammered home by repetition and success.
So, the symptomatic approach, doesn't have to go back to the original trauma. You look at the coping behaviour, the anxiety, the stress, the anger, and learn new ways to deal with them. Once the body/mind realizes that it is confused through pre-programming, and over reacting to every event, that it can reassess the risks of new, day to day events, and realize they are not life threatening. This is when you change your responses, create new softer behaviours that are more socially acceptable, and drive a wedge between you and your stutter, possibly even gaining control over it like you've never managed to up to now.
Hope this FAQ page has helped. Any questions to clear up before you make your booking, please contact me by: