Thursday, June 22, 2006

Stuttering and addiction

Tammy said:

I hate the analogy of comparing stuttering to an addiction. I know various people use it, but if stuttering is caused by a difficulty, say in the basal ganglia, that is to some degree out of the control of the person who stutters, it seems wrong and unfair to encourage punishment for something. I think the comparison of stuttering to something so negative causes so many difficulties, and exacerbates the potential for people to become anxious about their speech as a result of fearing negative evaluation. I prefer analogies where there isn't an implication of fault- for example poor vision- then treatments and strategies are about optimising your abilities (e.g. wearing glassess, doing eye exercises) raher than punishment!

1) I consider most stuttering therapies a behavioural therapy. You need to change your behaviour (the way you speak or stutter). In the short term, behavioural therapies are extremely successful, be it loosing weight, getting off hard drugs like heroin or crack cocaine, stopping smoking, stopping to drink, stay out off crime, and so on. Unfortunately, all these therapies have lousy success rate in the long-term. People in general fall back to their old behaviour, EVEN THOUGH THEY DO NOT WANT TO. We all know that old habits creep in very slowly: "Just a little piece of chocolate", "I am stressed. Oh there is chocolate lying around.", "I am fed up. I on purpose eat chocolate now. I want to punish myself.", or "Great. I have succeeded easting no chocolate anymore. So now, a bit of chocolate is OK." We readily succumb to short-term urges that win out against our long-term goals.

2)I consider that stuttering is based to varying degree on faulty/weak hardware in the brain which kick-starts and feeds the development of secondary symptoms that re-enforce and increase stuttering severity like fear, lack of eye contact, avoidance, tension, and so on. So, we need to undertake a superhuman effort to control our speaking and reduce the secondary symptoms. I also think that a case can be made that all other disorders that are treated with behavioural therapies are also not just bad habits. Being overweight, addicted to drugs, and being criminal are to some degree in our brain in that these people are pre-disposed to such behaviour under the right circumstances. Especially once you are addicted, your brain changes and you absolutely crave for drugs.

3) Bad vision is not a good example, as you do not need to change your behaviour to see better. You should get glasses.

3) I only compare one aspect stuttering to one aspect of addiction, I do not say that we just become to stuttering and that you crave for it as some would like us to to fit their theories. I am talking about the process of getting off stuttering or drugs.

4) When I think about an issue scientifically / intellectually, I do not care what the political implications are or the impact on other people. My mind is not restricted to "political correctness" (what seems wrong to say), so I do wonder why the fastest runners are black, why black kids underperform whereas the Indian minority outperform, why there are so few women in math / science, and why do less women stutter.

5) I am contemplating what is most effective. If it is punishment, so be it. If it is encouragement, so be it.

6) Punishment is not necessarily bad, especially if the person to be punished agrees with it. In a sense, his long-term thinking agrees that his short-term-urges should be punished.

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