Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Will PayPal react???

As I got no reaction from the suspicious websites, I start a campaign. Please cut and paste the text below (or your own text) in here (if you have an PayPal account), send an email to, and to as many people (and stuttering associations) as possible. Who else should we send an email to?

Dear Customer Service,

I would like to make you aware of a set of very suspicious websites that use your PayPal system to get desperate people who suffer from stuttering (or OCD) to spend money using false promises. Despite repeated requests, they did not back up the claims of satisfied customers that feature on their site.

They are and

This email is part of a campaign launched from

As a satisfied customer of PayPal and person who stutters, I feel that your company should not be hijacked by fraudulous or unprofessional websites.

Best regards,


Severe stutterer and AAF

Wow, he stutters quite severely. I have been recorded once that comes pretty close, but the next moment I was nearly fluent...

Regarding AAF (Altered Auditory Feedback), I am quite skeptical for the long-term effectiveness. I saw a presentation in Dublin about a preliminary study but I was not very convinced.

I wonder whether we can do the same with IVF (Instantaneous Visual Feedback i.e. speaking while looking at yourself in the mirror)?!

It's not just me!

I applaud the fact that others have followed the name and shame tactics!

Click here.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A quote to remember

Olivier sent me this email:
A former french president, François Mitterand, said about François Bayrou:

"Il faut se méfier d'un adversaire comme lui, qui a réussi à vaincre son bégaiement pour atteindre un objectif..."
Translation: You need to watch our for an enemy like him who successfully fought his stuttering in order to achieve his goal.

I love this quote...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Problem and Emotion focused coping

Per Alm pointed out the wikipedia entry for coping. The description provides a very nice framework to analyse how stutterers deal with stuttering.

In coping with disease, people tend to use one of the two main coping strategies: either problem focused or emotion focused coping.

People using problem focused strategies try to deal with the cause of their problem. They do this by finding out information on the disease, learning new skills to manage their disease and rearranging their lives around the disease.

Emotion focused strategies occur when the person modifies the way they think, for example: employing denial, or distancing oneself from the problem. People may alter the way they think about a problem by altering their goals and values, such as by seeing the humour in a situation.

People may use a mixture of these different types of coping, and coping mechanisms will usually change over time. All these methods can prove useful, but some claim that those using problem focused coping strategies will adjust better to life.

Are you problem or emotion focused? Or maybe both?

As a scientist, I am certainly problem focused in the long-term, but sometimes I am emotion focused when coping with stuttering in my life, e.g. I on purpose ignore the fact that i stutter when I have to speak or else I would avoid not to speak.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

No brain but one gene article

The brain research into stuttering seems to have gone dead. Still no new articles... However, there is at least one article on genetics in the Journal of Fluency Disorders: Genetic studies of stuttering in a founder population. Unfortunately, there are no conclusive results. This might also explain why the authors published it in JFD instead of a higher-ranked genetics/science journal. A genetics insider pointed out to me that 1) this family looks a bit suspicious as their visual appearance shows anormal traits which could suggest other issues which in turn might influence the occurence of stuttering or stuttering-like symptoms, and 2) the family is highly inbred which creates all sorts of methodological issues that are tricky to deal with.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Presidential candidate stutters

Here is an interview of the French presidential candidate, François Bayrou.

According to wikipedia, he has a real fighting chance. Aaaaallez-y Fr--rrancois!

M. Bayrou was eliminated in the first round of the 2002 Presidental elections with a fourth place showing of 6.84%

In 2007, he decided to try again and as of early March is polling a surprise third place behind front-runners Nicolas Sarkozy of the UMP party and Segolene Royal of the Parti Socialiste.

The latest CSA poll puts his first-round support at 21%, slightly behind Sarkozy at 27% and Royal at 26%. Other polls have confirmed that Bayrou is in striking distance of forcing Royal out of the second round and competing head-to-head with Sarkozy. Such a scenario would favour Bayrou as his centrist position would allow him to garner left-wing votes that would see him as the least bad option.

Fraud or crackpot?

There are only two possibilities for Natural Therapy for Stuttering. Either it is a fraud scheme, or the person associated to the website did stutter, improved fluency, and honestly believes that the advocated approach is the way forward. Even for the latter, there is no evidence whatsoever for such treatment and I have to label them crackpots! So I urge them to at least dispel the suspicion of fraud, or I will start a campaign to take down their site.

As you are coming to the end of this website, I would like to leave you with a few advices that have helped me tremendously to deal with this disorder. Over the years, I have attended many support groups for stutterers, and I even helped to run some of them.

I challenge you to name these support groups and contacts. We want to check whether you are real or not! I also challenge you to name the person that wrote the "About me" section. I challenge you to say what role Mark Clay and Galina Tchekan play.

You have not tried the program. You do not know how effective it is. Yet, you are passing judgments. Moreover, you had a nerve to ask people to report the website even though you had not tried the program yourself.

It is your responsibility to prove the efficacy of your program. I challenge you to, at the very least, name 10 people that are not stuttering anymore due to your "treatment".

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Reply by August (Part I)

Someone called August and most likely associated to the websites ("august" is in their contact email has posted a reply to my posts and your comments. I will assume that the post is genuine, and therefore post the reply here. I want to give them the opportunity to defend themselves.

Since you have been leaving nasty comments here, we would have to respond.
You have not tried the program. You do not know how effective it is. Yet, you are passing judgments. Moreover, you had a nerve to ask people to report the website even though you had not tried the program yourself.
The programs have been created as a result of going to various alternative medicine practitioners for years and trying their stuff for both conditions- stuttering and compulsive behaviors.
The information that is used for anxiety disorders comes from the original programs. It only excludes the speech component and the compulsive component of conditions. There is a lot of detail about these alternative medicine therapies and what these programs include online.
Natural Therapy for Stuttering teaches one how to use homeopathic remedies, energy medicine techniques, hypnosis, flower essences and visualization techniques in combination for optimum results, and it is targeted towards stuttering. It consists of experimentation notes that have been modified subsequently.
The word "cure" stirs much debate here. The goal of all alternative medicine therapies is to cure a person. All natural remedies have curative powers. Particularly, the need for them diminishes with time.
We all do realize that the "cure" is not possible in every case. In Answers sections of websites, it is clearly stated that the responses to natural remedies will vary. Everybody should be able to see it. It is on the top. People are also free to ask questions.

Reply by August (Part II)

However, there should always be a significant improvement in reduction of symptoms if one uses natural remedies in combination.
For instance, taking a homeopathic remedy called Sulphur in 1M or 10M potency will reduce not only symptoms of stuttering, but many anxiety symptoms as well in many people who have these problems. However, it is not clear how each person responds to the remedy. Therefore, it is best to combine using it with hypnosis, flower essences and energy medicine. The program explains in detail. What makes one an expert? Having lived through this does.
Lastly, a few comments have to be made about you wanting to become a lawyer. Since you have been insulting to us, we do have a right to be insulting to you.
To be a lawyer, you need to be able to think analytically. You simply do not have this ability. When you graduate from law school, you are probably going to be heavy in debt. You will not get hired anywhere as a lawyer unless you will be able to speak fluently. Even then, the competition among your fluent peers for any law job will be fierce!

What are your replies to the comment? I will post mine on Monday.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mark Vladimir Clay (Part I)

Disclaimer: All below information is publicly available, and I am only pointing out information and names of people associated to these fraudulent websites. Association might point to but not prove guilt. Check for yourself.

Our man is most likely Mark Vladimir Clay. He was born as Vladimir Mark Tchekanov in St Petersburg (Russia) in 1975, came to the US before 1996, and studied (or claims to have done) at Florida Atlantic University: see article and search for Clay. He decided to change his name to an English sounding one, but couldn't resist keeping his real name as middle name, Vladimir. But friends call him Vlad. He graduated from Thomas Cooley Law School in 2002: see here and search for Mark Vlad Clay. He became a US attorney-at-law whose practice is limited to immigration law.

Mark Vladimir Clay (Part II)

In early 2003, he moved to Chicago, and lived at several addresses here. On April 8th 2003, he created the website Natural Therapy for Stuttering. He is named as official owner on the public Internet registry (though the information is not easily accessible), and the address matches the address he lived at at that time: 3048 West Cortland St Apt 1, Chicago, IL 60647. His email address is In September 2004, he created another website, possibly motivated by the success of the first one. And again the address in the Internet registry matches his address: 4521 N Malden St. Apt 206, Chicago, IL 60640. Then in September 2006, again a website with very similar content, and same layout and pictures, but a break in habits. The owner is Galina Tchekan (email:, however the address again matches perfectly the address he lived at at the that time: 4607 N Sheridan Rd Apt 210 Chicago, IL 60640 US. There is no such person with a public address in the US. Maybe invented or a real female family member without visa? Tchekan is close to Tchekanov. Moreover, Mark Clay is associated to another suspicious website that has been taken down but of which you can see the cached version via google.

I was unable to do an thorough online criminal background check (for 50 dollars) (no US credit card). If you are well-off and bored, buy the report for "Mark V Clay, Chicago" and send it to me!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Widespread fraud??

I found and received some very intriguing information. Are we onto a massive fraud scheme?

Check out this OCD website! Does it look familiar to you?

And who do you think is the contact address?? The same as on our stuttering website:

Galina Tchekan
1002 Montrose Ave. # 183
Chicago, IL 60613

I checked on, and there is no person with such a name living in the US with a fixed address!!

I have even more revealing information on the man behind it all!! There are some Russian links... serious! Are you curious? Well then you have to read my blog tomorrow! (Dont they do this in soaps, too! :-)

Fraudster Wanted?

I admire the human brain's ability to come up with yet another idiotic stuttering cure. Or is the person just a fraud who tries to make money out of desperate people who stutter? Check out for yourself the website Natural therapy for stuttering.

Unfortunately, the website owner does not leave his or her name, so I cannot give him or her Crackpot Award No 3 (after No 1 and No 2). But I have the very strong suspicion that the person is not a true crackpot, because true crackpots love to put their picture on the website and say who they are!!! And I tried to find out the name, but s/he has registered the domain name via a domain name company and therefore the whois information is not available. Interesting. Also, the email address for the contact is a bit suspicious and completely anonymous: PROGRAMSALES@AOL.COM. I therefore strongly suspect that the person wants to defraud people who stutter.

Let's track down the person! Do you stutter and you are a fluent computer hacker, can you please try to track down the person? Thanks! I'll out him or her on my blog. But please no violence! :-) What is your view? Should we send emails to the domain name company and make them aware of the dubious activities? Should we try to find the name and reveal it?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dont we love listening to fellow stutterers

I found several videos on YouTube of people stuttering in front of the camera: see here. I am always amazed by my own reaction like: for god sake why does he not speak slower and relax, speaking is not that difficult I can do it now. And obviously in similar situation I do exactly the same thing!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sophie's world

I have just added Sophie's blog to my links. I found that she wrote an article together with her parents, and here is what her parents said:

When Sophie was five or six years old, we noticed that when explaining something, she appeared at times to be unable to get words out quickly enough -- as though her brain were racing ahead of her ability to say what she wanted. At first, this happened only occasionally but, as the weeks and months went by, we noticed it more frequently. Friends we talked to said it was a common phenomenon at Sophie's age, and probably she would grow out of it.

She didn't; rather, it happened more often, until we came to see that Sophie had developed a "stutter"of some sort. Inevitably, Sophie herself soon became aware that sometimes she couldn't say sentences smoothly, and this frustrated her. However, she talked fluently enough if she didn't think about her speech, and so it seemed to us that the less we drew attention to it, the better.

These statements drive me insane because I have no good explanation why stuttering got more and more frequent. Now, if there is a defect or default, it should just be noticable right away with the same frequency or intensity, or be less because the brain gets used to it. I can think of three possible modes of explanation: some chemical imbalance getting worse over time, a virus infection spreading slowly and then stopping, and some adaptation mechanism that escalates the situation (like you have a little spot on your face, you open it, wound gets infected, bigger spot, and so on).

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Questions to ask

I am trying to come up with all questions that influencea therapy choice. Here are a few but without explaining how they would influence the decision making process. Please feel free to post your question(s) and why they would influence therapy choice.

- do u have a family history of stuttering?

- do u have serious issues that may affect your stuttering? Psychological or Physical?

- is it the first time you talk about stuttering?

- how old are you?

- how much time do you have to dedict to therapy?

- how many therapies have you done in the past?

- are you male or female?

- can you really focus on a single task or goal, even obsessively?

- how dysfluent is your speech?

- how variable is your fluency?

- did you have an incident at age 3-5 that could have impacted stuttering?

- what therapy options are there in your neighbourhood?

- are you embarassed to talk about your stuttering?

(to be continued...)

Anti-selection is selection

Just a little thought. People who stutter and therapists always ask what is the best therapy for him/her or for his/her patient. Why dont we turn the whole selection process upside down? We look at all therapy options that we can do; which might be very different for different people like unavailabity due to geography, unsuitability due to psychological troubles or age. And then we eliminate therapies one by one, always the least suitable one, and you are automatically left with one therapy at the end.

Questions to eliminate therapy options might be:
1) do you mind taking a medication? (if yes, drop medication option)
2) do you feel under constant stress and fear that you could not handle treatment that puts you out of your comfort zone? (if yes, drop intense courses option like McGuire)
3) are you a child? (if yes, drop all adult therapies)
5) have you tried everything and are desperate for help? (if yes, all non-medication options)

The idea is to come up with a list of questions that at the end would help to elimate until one therapy is left. A bit like a flow diagram / decision tree.

Friday, March 02, 2007

With human thought came stuttering (Part I)

I am currently reading up and thinking about how and why speech developed in humans. My theory is that stuttering emerged when evolution developed a new pathway to prioritise generation of message as opposed to the manner in which the message is conveyed.

Our ancestors were animals like today's apes. They were able to express primitive thought processes and emotional states with sounds, a sequence of sounds, and body language of different forms (like pitch, length, intensity). Due to still unclear reasons, our ancestors developed more sophisticated thought processes and the ability to encode these thoughts in a language. Having a language had a huge evolutionary advantage because language allows to put thoughts into a message, to send the message to another person where the message creates a similar thought in that person's mind.

However, evolution only equipped our ancestors to deliver non-language messages like name calling, pointing, and so on. The brain put all the focus on how to deliver the message, but little cognitive resource on formulation which message is the most effective. Now, with the development of language and more sophisticated brain processes, spending more time on the message as opposed to how to deliver the message had an evolutionary advantages. Therefore a new pathway developed that would run the how-to-speak in the background and give our ancestors more cognitive space to work on what message we want to convey. We have the ability to speak with thinking on how we have to speak because it works automatically. We can concentrate on how to manipulate our fellow humans with the most appropriate message!

With human thought came stuttering (Part II)

Of course, this evolution of a second auto-pilot pathway took thousands and thousands of years. Genes that built or support the stability such a pathway spread out, and genes that hinder or render unstable such a pathways die out more and more. So over the years, more and more humans carried genes that developed such a pathways, and fewer and fewer had genes that blocked this pathway. The point is that I believe that the stuttering genes are the left over from this evolution. We carry genes that have not been selected out yet due to their devastating effect on speech fluency, but will eventually. So I argue that in the past a greater proportion of the population stuttered, and slowly the genes are selected out. (Of course, there is evidence that some stuttering is not genetic. There I argue that you can have an unstable pathways due to genes or due to an incident. And I argue that the genes part will decline more and more, and the incident part will stay unless there are genes that increase the probability of such incidents while not having any other benefits to the human being).

Please note: These arguments only make sense if the dual pathway theory advocated by Per Alm is correct: see here for a discussion. Also, theses are conceptual arguments, and the details are definitely more complicated.