Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Understanding and treatment in 9999

Pablo from Spain asked me some time ago: "Do you believe that in our life time (I am 36) there will be a truly scientific understanding of stuttering and a truly scientific therapy for curing it?"

Let me first say what I believe is the maximum understanding and treatment we can achieve: (I will talk about timeline in my next post)

1) PDS is very likely not a local problem but a more distributed problem. I give an example: it is not like computer hardware breaking down due to a faulty cable or a software with a bug in the code, but it is more like a very inefficient transport system or a high crime rate in a city. You will never be able to answer the question: Where exactly is the problem? You see the effects, but many factors play a role like the underground trains are very old, only one underground line, and the unions block any change. Currently, we don't even know what the various factors are. It's like, the city is still very foggy, and we slowly need to get rid of the fog (also due to genetics and brain imaging tools) and explore the different factors. The maximum understanding will come when there is no fog anymore, and all factors and how they interact are known.

2) There will not be a cure in the sense as having the same speech system as normal speakers, but more like the children who have recovered. Much greater fluency will be achieved faster with fewer relapse. Thus, it will not be like the computer doesn't work due to a cable failure so lets replace the cable or the computer bug is here lets replace this line of code. It is more like lets improve the inefficient transport system. God knows where you should start. So build a new underground line or lets get new trains. BUT the problem is that you cannot shut down a city (or a human being) for a few months and re-build everything. You can only do slow step-wise improvements. In therapies you always need to work on a change in behaviour, but with no fog around the city anymore, we will know much better where to attack the problem (which might be slightly different for different people). Medication is probably the most straightforward way to help people, as you just take a pill and nothing else. You don't need to follow some therapy which is much harder. Taking a pill will change neurotransmitter level in the brain and is like ensuring that there is never bad weather in the city or the people using the transport system are not stressed. And the transport system improves tremendously (without solving underlying issues), but is not really a cure as such.

Actually, to be completely honest with you, I think that in 9999 there will be no human beings anymore as we know now. So there will also be no stuttering anymore!! We will have morphed with computers into one big system. We will be sub-entities like cells in our body. And communication between sub-entities (direct descendants of us) will not involve speech anymore. This process has just started with the Internet. For example, take my blog, I am currently putting ideas into your mind, and you can influence my mind by posting comments. These comments are just like my own thoughts: I might take them on or ignore them. Wikipedia and google have also dramatically increased our common shared memory and so on. This process will continue... :-)


Anonymous said...


I really enjoyed this posting. The analogy you draw (which you have done before) I think is very appropriate.

BTW - I begin the pagoclone study next week - here's to "good weather!"


Tom Weidig said...

Good Luck!

Let me know in case you think you dont have the placebo.

And you could be the first guest blogger!