Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Even Neo-Nazis and Anarchists stutter

Over the weekend I was in Goettingen (Germany). I met up with Dr. Martin Sommer for Sunday lunch. He is main author of the Lancet article that reports structural anomalies in the brain of people with PDS for the first time. Check also this summary on PDS. This has now been more or less confirmed by research from Foundas, Jaencke, and Watkins in principle, but the location varies a bit. He is currently finishing his Habilitation, which is a bit like a super PhD thesis that qualifies you to become professor at a German university. He has been quite busy with his clinical work and research in other areas, and even asked me to update him on the latest research. I suggested he should read my blog! :-) A PhD student of his is doing work on PDS, but he said that it is too early to talk about. He also said that for the defence of his Habilitation thesis he will have to review all the latest research. We talked about many things, but not very detailed: 2-loop theory, evolutionary disadvantage of people who stutter, psychological/Freudian theories (which we thought can only be helpful for secondary symptoms), drugs (see here). We also spoke about speech therapies. Martin also has PDS, and we exchanged ideas and our experiences, and we spoke about the research work I did and might be doing soon on the data and therapy of the Kassel Stuttering Therapy.

My stay in Goettingen has been interesting in another way: here. That Saturday the NPD, an extreme right-wing political party (close to neo-Nazis) had an authorised march through the city, and left-wing anarchists (mainly from Berlin and Hamburg) decided to block the march by any means. Unknown to me, their romantic encounter happened in the street and neighbourhood where I stayed the night! I arrived at 4 in Goettingen and the whole place was blocked with literally thousands of policemen. After 2 hours of driving around to evade police road blocks, I left the car in a car park at the train station, and made my way on foot. At that time, passions had calmed, apart possibly from a punkish old leftish woman complaining to the German railways about their inefficient services! It was a bit spooky and surreal atmosphere as I crossed police lines, burned-out trash containers, and broken street signs. Half another hour later, town council worked had cleaned everything, and Goettingen looked again like a peaceful German version of Cambridge or Oxford.

Writing this blog also means trying to find PDS in anything that moves. So I guess even neo-Nazis and anarchists stutter. I am wondering whether there are some famous bad guys in history or now that stutter?? You always only see positively famous people who stutter. I know one "bad" guy who stuttered: the sprinter Ben Johnson. Interestingly enough, he was never included in the Famous People who Stutter list. And he is/was pretty famous, beating Carl Lewis in 100 meters with world record, only to be found guilty of performance-enhancing drugs. I saw a TV documentary where he speaks/stutters and says that he stutters since the age of 4. If you know any bad guys who stuttered, let me know! After all, people with PDS are not worse but also not better than others!

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