Monday, January 18, 2010

Isham stuttered as a teenager.

OK. I feel a bit guilty for having robbed you of Isaac Newton as being a stutterer. And you won't accept me even as a good Newton substitute though I do stutter and I have a PhD in theoretical physics! Here is a compromise. A confirmed semi-famous recovered stutterer. It's Professor Chris Isham: standing next to Hawking. He is a well-known professor in theoretical physics for his work on quantum gravity and quantum mechanics, where he among others things introduced new mathematical concepts and showed that under certain circumstances time is not fundamental to certain physical theories. He is considered as the the Imperial College analogue of Cambridge's StephenHawking, and Oxford's Roger Penrose.

He was the supervisor of my Master thesis on a new framework for quantum mechanics. And he told me that he was also stuttering, but only as a child or teenager. And then I asked him: So what did you do? He said that his teacher made him read in front of the class every day (I think), and then it got slowly better. And I said: That's it? Are you sure that's what made it go away? As far as I remember, he replied: I don't know. Maybe I was just more lucky than you.

They all seem to recover just like that. Why not me? Why not you? Why them?


Harry said...

"They all seem to recover just like that. Why not me? Why not you? Why them? "

hehehe. I once met a guy at a BSA conference, who said that one day in his early 20's, he just thought "Sod it, I don't CARE anymore, I simply don't CARE", and the very next day he found himself quite fluent. This fluency continued, and he no longer stutters. As amazing as this seems, I do not for one second
doubt him. Sometimes a powerful change of belief system can cause all sorts of physiological changes.

I've met people who, after just one course of the 'Coastal
Breathing technique have achived amazing levels of fluency. For others it does nothing.
Every one of us has a different solution.

One stutterer has written a book on how simply pausing (he calls it the 'silent' pause) cured his stutter of at least 4 decades.
Almost immediately.

Stuttering is a fscinating condition - fascinating when it's not being a pain in the back-side.

Best regards.

Jerome said...

Because we don't read in front of the class everyday? ;)

Oh, and this reminds me of someone! I will tell you about this later. But it's like Harry's case of the guy who claimed that he just 'decided' one day not to care (and not to stutter anymore). Although I doubt it's as easy as that, especially in harder cases, I'm quite sure that a serious, and honest, change in belief systems CAN bring dramatic change in physiology too.

But it's hard to believe ... I would still like to see actual stuttering footage of that one guy and compare it to today.

Norbert said...

"that under certain circumstances time is not fundamental to certain physical theories."

Well, we all knew *that*.

"They all seem to recover just like that. Why not me?"

Cri de coeur? Or rhetorical question? If the first, you may already have your answer. Is it Wendell J's "stuttering is what we do when we try not to stutter?" all over again?

PeterL said...

I spoke to a medical doctor some years ago who also mentioned that he was cured of his stuttering at school when a teacher forced him to read and speak in front of the class for some months. According to the doctor it was pure hell, but it did cure him. His speech gradually improved.

Dramatic cures such as these are probably the result of greatly lowered stress levels. Due to the enforced public speaking he probably faced up to his fears. Victory over his fears may have resulted in more speaking confidence, resulting in lower stress, and so even more confidence - a virtuous circle.

Harry said...


A great comment - in fact, what you explained is what's happened to a few stutterers I've come across who are now largely fluent due to their getting active in public speaking. I myself do Toastmasters, and after each meeting my speech is SO much better for the next few days, and the stress levels so much lower. In fact, I'm now at the stage where I'm actually quite enjoying standing in front of an audience.

Gustaf said...

I've been reading Van Riper's The Treatment of Stuttering for a while now, and it's a recurring theme that children are responsive to almost any form of therapy, no matter how far fetched. But a few children aren't, and those are the ones who grow up to become us.