Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A disability?

Einar has asked me whether I think stuttering is a disability. In short, the answer depends on your definition of disability! :-)

Here are some thoughts. PDS is not your stereotypical disability because

1) PDS is not a very apparent, 100% permanent and constant-in-severity physical or mental disability like being blind, deaf, no leg, legs paralysed. (But then again most blind and deaf people are actually not 100% blind or deaf, and their blindness and deafness fluctuates over time!)

2) a person with PDS is not (viewed as) a powerless victim of his or her destiny. There is a sense in that you can undo or reduce the disability. PDS falls under the category of diets, giving up smoking, drug addiction, poverty: if you really really worked hard, you can overcome your disability. But the majority fails.

3) people with PDS are able to do what they claim they cannot do, namely speak fluently! So how can they claim to be disabled. The disability only comes in them being unable to consistently speak fluently.

4) PDS is not life threatening in a natural environment and its severity clearly dependent on the complexity of and necessity of verbal skills in social interactions. 100'000 years ago PDS was far less important, as physical strength linked to fighting and hunting skills where far more important. In effect, dyslexia or dyscalculia did not even exist!!! However, a standard disability meant a rapid decline of your survival chances. Actually our future looks brighter again due to email and chatting via Messenger. Computers and the Internet have helped us in our fight against imperialistic chatterboxes!!! I am waiting for the day that human communication is via brain waves. Then we are going to crush them with our brain waves. :-)


Einar said...

Hm, not really sure about point 2,. What I mean with that is the counterintentional component of stuttering (like with dieting by the way), the more you will want to be fluent and the more you work and practice you might actually get the exact opposite of what your reaching for… Because you put yourself under such stress and expectations which make it impossible to overcome the stuttering. Of course stuttering differs from individual to individual… But it seems certain to me that there are stutterers out there who at least currently (referring to stuttering therapy concepts available today) cannot overcome their stuttering permanently.
Could it be that overcoming stuttering is not only linked to willpower and the right technique? Which basically brings me to the question, is stuttering curable? A question which at least up to now has had to be answered with no, which to me would make it a disability. Of course you can’t know for yourself if you’re be able to overcome your stuttering some day, so I’d rather die trying than to give up… ;-)
And one nice thing about stuttering is the fact that by working on it, you’ll always be able to reduce it substancially, but knowing that you’ll probably never be able to get rid of it completely, so in my opinion a stutterer should not be overly perfectionnistic in that sense towards his speech as he will only self-sabotage himself with the pressure created... Brrr... talking through brain-waves sounds scary to me...a bit like in "Matrix", the next step would be what?...Maybe to get rid of our bodies and create virtual reality for our brains... Brrr, no thanks, back to nature please ;-)

Tom Weidig said...

Yes, there is some truth in that you might be more disfluent if you foccus more on it. But the same is true for all learning? Take your Salsa moves... :-) When you started you "stuttered" more, but once it is more or less automatic you are very "fluent".

It seems clear to me that dieting or any behavioural therapy is easier or more difficult for some people.

Imagine walking up an elevator whose stairs move downwards. The speed with which the elevator moves depends on the individual person, and is a combination of genetics, environment, and so on.

Regarding the matrix, we are already creating our reality within our brain.

Tom Weidig said...

No, I am just plainly talking about the brain building a view of the world from sensory data, and past knowledge of the world it has lived in.

Actually, during my PhD and Master's in theoretical physics, I was working on quantum mechanics, and also touched on the holographic principle. And this book seems to be a specualation on an unproven speculation. Unfortunately, I am getting hold up by more mundane things like thinking about stuttering. :-)

John MacIntyre said...

"this book seems to be a specualation on an unproven speculation"

Quite likely .. but it was an interesting read (what I remember 10yrs ago anyway).

Tom Weidig said...

I have nothing against speculation along as people call it a speculation...

My life is full of speculations... I am a daydreamer! :-)