Friday, March 19, 2010

A reply

Anna writes:
I stutter since childhood. I am over 40 now. I learned a great deal of fluency techniques, but I still wasn't able to get rid of stuttering. However. Recently my speech improved significantly. The reason? First, I read the book by John Harrison, which I recommend to anyone who stutters (Redefining stuttering) and I read the book by Bob Bodenhamer. After applying the methods outlined in both books, I am now able to 1) talk on the phone without fear or much blocking 2) increase my fluency with strangers and at home 3) noticeably reduce the occurrence of difficult speech blocks. 4) change my attitude toward my own stuttering and myself. If stuttering is purely "organic", "genetic" "mechanic" etc thing, then how come I was able to increase my fluency purely by changing my mindset and using methods like intentional stuttering and observation of my blocking behavior? I agree that there should be some genetic predisposition to developing of stuttering (high sensitivity, quick stress reaction, may be even some problems in hemispheres communication etc), but they do not make stuttering. And my own experience confirms that changing the attitude and mindset is very efficient way to increase fluency. maybe NLP is not a magic cure, but it helps nevertheless.
Anna write a sensible email, and here are my thoughts:
1) You are taking your specific case and you are generalizing to stuttering in general. Maybe you are a special case. Maybe 100s have tried NLP and it didn't work!
2) You might have a distorted view on your stuttering, i.e. an external observer might view your stuttering as very mild but you are internally severely affected by occasional blocks. Changing your attitude might well change your handicap a lot.
3) Stuttering can be genetic and neurobiological and the symptoms can be affected by attitude. If you are in a wheelchair, your well-being is significantly affected by your attitude and activities despite you having a very mechanical problem. There is no paradox here.
4) NLP are not much different from techniques that you could get from a good psychotherapist.
5) Maybe you are just in a stage of your life where you are just ready to change, and any more psychologically oriented treatment might have helped you.
6) Maybe your fluency was just a lucky period and now you are stuttering more again.
7) The theory of NLP on stuttering is very clearly wrong; there is now clear evidence for genetics and neurobiological issues. But that does not mean that techniques can help.
8) Genetics and neurobiology makes you stuttering, attitudes modulate your symptoms.
9) Changing attitude and mindset definitely reduces the handicap both behaviorally and emotional/cognitively.
10) Are you a real person, and not made up by NLP people...


Anonymous said...

Anna -

As a person who stutters, I am happy for you! I am soooooo glad you found some help for yourself.
I rejoice with you!

Some people who stutter are just haters and just despise anyone who stutters and have positive therapy outcomes. That type PWS will never change...Jealousy and envy rule them.

For the haters... Good luck searching for the evidenced based cure. How are those gene thingy's and techniques workin' for you?

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

Anonymous said...


I think you still haven't learned anything after all these years. You still seem to have the attitude that stuttering is purely genetic/neurological/organic etc. The debate about nature versus nurture has been going on for decades, and only ignorant people bother to argue. In general, there are very few things that are *purely* genetic. For instance, Huntington's disease is purely genetic: if you have the gene, you are destined to die from the disease. Stuttering is definitely not one of those afflictions. Anybody who claims that stuttering is purely genetic is either stupid, or trying to promote stuttering as a real disability, in order to get money and sympathy.

The truth is that stuttering does have a genetic component; this has been known for almost 40 years (the twin studies of the 1970s). We did not need Dennis Drayna's half-baked studies to tell us that (in that case, Drayna has told us nothing new). If stuttering were purely genetic, there would be 100% concordance between stuttering monozygotic twins (who share the same genes) - but there is not. So there are clearly environmental factors at work - either internal or external. Just as we don't know the balance between convergence and contingency in biological evolutionary biology, we do not know the balance between nature and nurture as far as stuttering is concerned. So, there is no reason why Harrison's treatments (for example) can't work for stutterers ... not all stutterers, but at least some!

Personally, I've found that meditation and positive thinking has greatly improved my fluency; no drugs, no gene therapy, just meditation and positive thinking.

Wake up, Tom!

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous above,

Just because something appears to work for someone, does not mean that it will work for everyone. In any case no one can be sure of the exact conditions of a spontaneous recovery, and whether the positive result can be attributed to the proposed cause without controlled scientific experiments and trials. Some people seem to overcome cancer for reasons no one understands. Should we dismantle the whole cancer research industry in reaction to that?

If it was down to people like you, we would still be in the stone-age. Please remember the principles that lead to the creation of all the technology that you enjoy, including your computer which you use to spread your ignorance. Stuttering treatment is still behind compared to the treatment of other conditions. One of the reasons for that is backward thinking advocated by people like you. Please wake up from your arrogance.

A fellow stutterer

Anonymous said...

To: a fellow stutterer -

Can you find any happiness or joy for the stutterer's that have found their answer?

BTW -How's the techniques workin' for ya? Those idea's have been sooooo successful over the course of the last 75 years for the majority of us who stutter, haven't they?

Have you bunker'd down for the wait with evidence based stuff? Might want to get a couple decades worth of supplies.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why the first anonymous keeps posting here. He obviously has no interest in the science of stuttering which is the whole point of this blog. He calls us "haters" for thinking critically and making people think twice before shelling out their hard earned dollars.

There is nothign wrong with differing opinions and adult discussions and debates on this blog, but "anonymous" has shown us none of this. He does nothing more than whine and complain. Tom may be critical, but at least he backs it up. I would like to see "anonymous" do the same.

Anonymous said...

To "A fellow stutterer"

I assume you were responding to me (the Anonymous just before you)

You wrote: "Just because something appears to work for someone, does not mean that it will work for everyone."
I agree, and that is essentially what I said. Do you have comprehension difficulties? Given that we do not know the cause of stuttering and we do not know the balance between nature and nurture in stuttering, it stands to reason that therapies such as those advocated by Harrison can work for at least some people. It is clear that stuttering is not PURELY of an organic nature!!!!!

The rest of your response is just pure rubbish, and does not address any of my points at all. So get back in your hole.

Csaba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harry said...

The debate is getting quite heated, and I simply have to join in.

I am an ex-scientist, and I too suffered from the black-and-white thinking that people like Tom still suffer from. If things aren't in a chart, or a histogram, showing clear trends and measureable data, they discard them as 'psuedo-science'. That seems to be one Toms favourite words for anyone promoting NLP, Congnitive Behaviour Therapy etc.

The sad thing is that scientists are supposed to be open-minded, but Tom and his ilk are anything but.

To summarise - all this research on stuttering has done NOTHING for me, or anyone else I know;
but NLP, positive thinking, changing attitudes etc have helped

So, Tom can carry on bleating about his "evidence-based" research and the rest of us can enjoy the success-based techniques that we are using.

Anonymous said...

Harry, are you not reading Tom's posts? He has stated several times that NLP and CBT can be of help. In this very thread Tom states...

Changing attitude and mindset definitely reduces the handicap both behaviorally and emotional/cognitively.

Tom has issues with the NLP people who refuse to take the neurobiological part of stuttering into account. What is wrong with that?

Tom Weidig said...

To the last Anonym:

THANK YOU!!! At least one person who actually reads the posts!

To Harry:

I wrote "Changing attitude and mindset definitely reduces the handicap both behaviorally and emotional/cognitively."

Many therapy approaches like the very common cognitive-behavioural use very similar if not identical techniques to NLP. There is nothing really special except the pseudo-science language. But NLP has an obsession on explaining an issue with cognitive dysfunctioning alone...

Tom Weidig said...

>> The sad thing is that scientists are supposed to be open-minded, but Tom and his ilk are anything but.

I have done physics, now I do finance, and I took classes in neuroscience and write a book on psychology. And have a blog on stuttering. I speak 5 languages. So much for open-mindness..

Anonymous said...

I agree with Harry.

Just because you *were* a scientist and now work as an accountant, does not mean that you have an open mind. In fact, as a long-time reader of your blog, I see that you are very closed in your thinking. That's probably why you left science to become an accountant ... although you might give other reasons.

Tom Weidig said...

I have been insulted many times!! But to be called an accountant is the ultimate insult!!

I am NOT an accountant, though I have taken accountancy classes and could work as an accountant at an entry level job.

I work as a quant and I do financial modelling and risk management. Which is really a science / engineering. And wrote a book on venture capital funds.

How many languages do you speak? One? Is it English? Wow.

Harry said...

Tom said "I have done physics, now I do finance, and I took classes in neuroscience and write a book on psychology. And have a blog on stuttering. I speak 5 languages. So much for open-mindness.."
Having different skills does not make a person open-minded.....the fact that you failed to understand that proves the point I was making.

"How many languages do you speak? One? Is it English? Wow."

Now that's just childish, Tom.....

Anonymous said...


You said:
"How many languages do you speak? One? Is it English? Wow"

Speaking more than one language doesn't make you open-minded (as you wrongly claim to be). The Pope speaks more languages than you, and I would never consider him to be open-minded at all.

Why do you consider it an insult to be called an accountant? That is exactly what you are; a glorified accountant and a has-been scientist who just couldn't cut it in the open-minded world of science.

Finally, to answer your question about how many languages I speak: I speak three. Two of them I speak without a stutter, and much better than your English (your English is very poor - particularly the grammar).

Oh, and wake up Tom!

Anonymous said...

I agree most with Anonymous #3 who posted on Saturday, 20 March 2010 02:34:00 CET.

It's ridiculous to say, "Stuttering is genetic." I believe that genetics can increase the chance of someone becoming a stutterer, but ultimately, it's determined by external, non-genetic factors. I believe that based on my own experiences, talking to others, and reading the evidence with stuttering and genetics.

And a lot depends on a person's definition of stuttering.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree with the above anonymous of Monday, March 29 2010 05:58:00.

A persons definition of stuttering is of paramount importance when considering the origin of stuttering as well as any treatment regimen. There does appear to be major differences in the definitions offered by professionals and those who stutter.

That said, it has always been that way.

MicaelaP said...

I've never tried NLP for my stuttering (but would love to find a sensible specialist who has worked with stuttering in my city and give it a try!) but I believe stuttering to be caused by genetic/physiological factors as well as psychological.

I don't think it's completely pointless to approach stuttering through the door of what's considered "the mind" vs. "the body", because in reality there's no such division as individuals. We are Mind & Body beings, intrinsically entwined. Even our smallest thought is backed up by a number of chemical and physiological processes, so why not stuttering? The evidence of an organic reason for stuttering doesn't overrule a psychological component (as the machine to measure "the mind" hasn't been invented yet)

I say give NPL a try, if you find a reliable specialist. even if it doesn't cure you (highly unlikely) but provides some help, perhaps in some situations, it's worth the try. Why? Because up to this point there's not a cure, not even a cohesive explanation of what causes stuttering, so why not be open to whatever options there might be? Even if they work for some people only, you might be among the fortunate ones who experience some improvement in your speech, for whatever reason.
What if NPL doesn't hep you? Well, again, there's no known cure, so it's just reality.

Hans said...

I'm constantly surprized by the personal attacks in these blogs. Surely those of us who have improved their speech by whatever method have the right to be heard without denigration of their efforts. PWS often suffer from low self esteem, making us sensitive to the slightest criticism.

Let's lighten up and treat each other with respect. Yes, I feel anoyed when my journey to fluency is belittled, ie. you probably didn't have a real stutter in the first place, but 15 years ago I wouldn't have believed it possible either. Read between the lines; try to understand your critic and believe that no one intents malice.

Nothing changes unless I change.