Friday, January 06, 2006

My paradigm shift

I have subscribed to the STUTT-L (see FAQ on STUTT-L) as you don't leave a lot of posts, and I get bored!! :-) On the first day, my mailbox was FLOODED by pretty low-information content emails, but there are also an interesting discussion.

BUT Per Alm's following comment has triggered a paradigm shift in my thinking:
What is important to point out is that observations of other possible impairments, for example of language ability, very well may be an "epiphenomenon", that is, a phenomena that occurs in parallel with stuttering but that is not causally related to stuttering. All too often reports of differences between stuttering and non-stuttering persons are interpreted as causal, when they are more likely to be just epiphenomena.

In the back of my mind, I always thought of the lower performance of people with PDS in dual tasks like finger tapping (research by Webster, de Nil and Bosshardt), and language skills (research by Christine Weber-Fox) as collateral damage to PDS. I never gave it too much importance. But now suddenly I find this research and the related insights very exciting, very important and crucial for the bigger picture of PDS! Why?

My current thinking (and of the few people with the same wavelength) often is based on two views:
1) We concentrate on stuttering either as the symptom of overt stuttering or concentrate on the brain mechanism that leads to stuttering.
2) We view stuttering as the disorder, and PDS causes or also includes much more subtle deficiencies like dual tasks, language deficits, etc.

But now I think that is a very biased way of looking at the issues. And the two views should be:
1) Overt stuttering is a (but not necessarily the only) consequence of PDS and PDS is a (but not necessarily the only) consequence of X.
2) X causes many different functional deficiencies like PDS, language deficits, dual task deficits, and possibly more. PDS is only the most visible due to its importance in human activities, and a compensating mechanism only works well in 80% of the cases but only partially compensates in the remaining 20%. Then the 20% face enormous pyschological and social pressure, because they do not function normally, "normally as defined by the environment they live in" and their reaction to their stuttering is very strong leading to even more severe stuttering, bad habits, and so on. Were subtle dual tasks as crucial for human activities like speech, we would be dys-dual-tasking.

X is a structural deficiency/abnormality happening during the development of a brain region(s) caused either internally by genes or externally by some neurological incidents (or even due to some rare extreme traumatic experience).

X exists in all developmental brain disorders. X can happen in all kinds of brain regions due to all kinds of genes leading to different disorders. X may cause or increase likelihood of development of PDS, dyslexia, and dyscalculia (spelling?), for example. Everyone has some X somewhere, but often the structural deficiencies lead to non-detected subtle functional deficiencies, because they are not important for our functioning (in our society). For example, 10'000 years ago no-one would have cared about dyslexia, and there would have been no opportunity to see it in a society without writing and reading! So X is not really a disorder as such but just nature experimenting with different gene setups. And the society and the environment will select out genes that cause the Xs which lead to significant handicap impairing chances of re-productivity.

OK. I better stop here. I will read this post again tomorrow to see whether this is all nonsense or a beautiful new paradigm of looking at PDS. :-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom.

This shift of paradigm goes really far. As I understand, PDS could be a random manifestation of some X "genetic mutation" or "experiment of nature". This is really interesting. You know? Looking at the social and sexual penalty around PDS all over the world, I was thinking that there is something else going on apart from "culture" or "social construction". This shift of paradigm could explain better, in terms of natural selection, why PDS is so penalized all over the world. One question: is there any research regarding PWS having less children or less sexual chances than the general population?