Thursday, April 08, 2010

Well done Peter Reitzes!

Congratulations to Peter Reitzes from StutterTalk for outstanding journalism debunking Oprah on stuttering cures! He brilliantly exposes the irresponsible and misleading actions of the Oprah Winfrey show and others. Presenting Speech Easy as a cure, and showing miracle cures. Peter did what I wanted to do, find the stutterers "that were cured" like Mark Babcock and talk to him. I didn't follow up but Peter did. Well done StutterTalk!

You can read about Mark's summary here on his blog, and what happened to him after the show:
I humored her for a little while before finally admitting what I had know for a while: the SpeechEasy device did not work.

The next 6 months were probably the worst of my life. My dream of being fluent had slipped through my fingers. I withdrew from friends, I stopped going to class, and I drank. I finished spring semester with a 0.5 GPA, and I was put on academic probation. I blamed everything but stuttering for my downward spiral. I refused to accept that I actually wanted to be fluent that much. The let down had crushed me.

Greedy Oprah has made money, a lot of money on the back of victims without due care to checks, a criminal behaviour in my view. Build up their hopes and don't care anymore. The same for Speech Easy, they made thousands of dollars out of him. Again, shame on those who work for Speech Easy! Listen to your conscience!

Thank you, Mark Babcock. For going on StutterTalk and telling your side of the story. For too long you have been a pawn of the Oprah and Speech Easy industry. The more you talk to us, the more you realize this!

I am wondering whether we could not do more. Maybe send an open letter to the media outlet, and complain! Storm the Oprah Winfrey show with posters! Handcuff ourselves to Oprah! We should try to contact all of them. There was also this girl in her 20s who tried it. And then make a YouTubes videos. That should be a very powerful message.


Pam said...

I agree - its great when someone has the courage and tact to debunk these crazy ides that such and such is a cure. Peter indeed did a great job, and Mark's account in his blog was raw and honest.
Just what other stutterers need to hear when contemplating spending lots of money for something that will help at best, and only for short term.
I commend Mark for being honest about his experienc, which will surely help many people.

JZ said...

For Kalinowski's attitudes toward SpeechEasy and other stuttering treatment, you may refer to this discussion:

Please also keep in mind that those ECU researchers have never said, or even implied, that SpeechEasy is a "cure." Even the Janus company, in my memory, never directly said this (you may argue that by advertising a device that stops stuttering, they were implying it, and I don't disagree with you on this point). But that company is an entity founded by ECU and currently those ECU researchers don't have a say about its operation.

You may say, why these ECU researchers did not fight with Janus, or Oprah Winfrey, on directly or indirectly stating SpeechEasy as a "cure?" Sure there is a conflict of interest, and you need to note that there are things that only outsiders could do without hurting themselves (e.g., whistle blowing always backfires).

Personally, I am a SpeechEasy user, or used to be, for I have not used it for years. This device gave me the last hope of fluency, and yeah, now I am fluent, or nearly fluent, and I have been like this for over 7 years. There were bad times, of course, but they never lasted long. It also took me another few years to be able to talk in front of an audience, to lecture, but when finally the anxiety disappeared, life was just totally different.

I am not saying that this device is the only reason for my change. I did not have the miracle effect as Mark Badcock showed in the TV, and it took me about 6 months to be able to speak fluently. but there might be some difference in the background, motivation, hardworking, or even genetics. I hate to use words like motivation, hardworking, since frequently behavioral therapists blame stutterers for not being able to speak fluently because of lack of motivation or hardworking, but sometimes it seems true to me that here in the United States, some stutterers are actually enjoying the secondary benefit of stuttering, e.g., they receive more attention and love from their parents, and if they don't stutter, suddenly they become a "plain Mark." The truth is, when we stutter, we may think we are giants in the chains, and sadly we find that when we speak just normally, we are not giants, or even not as good as others, because of something stuttering has done to our personality or communicative ability. It was like nightmare coming again when I talked to a government officer and stuttered badly, after a few months of using SpeechEasy, but those were difficulties I had to deal with and I believed in no miracles but practice and practice (sorry for another cliche used by behaviorists).

I think mine is just another side of the story. Probably it is like the stories of so many behavioral therapies. And how much does the therapies cost?

Anonymous said...

I tried Speech Easy several years ago. I have run into the same problem as so many others... works for a while and then stops! Such a tremendous letdown. I also felt fooled by the therapist who sold me the Speech Easy. She explained the results were not something that came immediately. When I read fluently, she started crying. I truly believed because of her explanation and reaction it only took time before the "full" results set in. I was a little bit desperate for anything that would "cure" my stuttering. I wanted to believe something as simple as this would work and I think any stutterer would agree with me. I've learned the best treatment for stuttering is to accept it. In other words, there are no magical cures.

Anonymous said...

JZ, why don't you use the SpeechEasy anymore?

And is married Joe cheating on his wife and having an affair with "Cathy"

The worst kind of stutterers are those that lie and make money off of poor stutterers!

Joe went on USA today and put on a show. SpeechEasy in: fluent, speecheasy out: stuttering.

JZ said...

Anonymous 2, you need to be civilized to get the answers. I don't want to have a dirty fight here.

Mark B. said...

"it seems true to me that here in the United States, some stutterers are actually enjoying the secondary benefit of stuttering, e.g., they receive more attention and love from their parents, and if they don't stutter, suddenly they become a "plain Mark.""



Or is this the rationalization of speech therapists? The "secondary benefits" meme pops up quite often in stuttering literature. It's a simple conjecture - not a statement of any observed fact - that makes a problem go away without having to deal with it.

You see, if stuttering is a learned behavior, then you should be able to unlearn it. That is, you should be able to cure stuttering. So every failure of therapy is a challenge to learning-based theories of stuttering. So how do you deal with therapy failure? You either question your assumptions, or you blame the stutterer. Which do you think is more likely?

Anonymous said...

Mark B. -- I loved your "Really?" comments! That's exactly what I was thinking when I read that comment. I've never felt any secondary benefits of stuttering. If anything, the only "extra" attention I get is pity. I would much rather be a "plain Mark" than stutter anyday! I do believe that comment is an excuse that perhaps we aren't "trying".

JZ said...

Mark, for an example of secondary benefit, you may read Marty Jezer's book titled Stuttering, in which he described a scenario where his stuttering was reported in the local newspaper and suddenly he became "the stuttering guy." Marty said, sometimes he had to fake some stuttering to satisfy these people. I am sure you can see that there is some feeling of being recognized, being famous, as a stutterer, that can be described as beneficiary.

Of course this is just a case. I believe that if we retrospect our past, there might be many, or at least a few times, that we used stuttering as an excuse, or to seek attention, or pity, sympathy, or to attribute some failure to it, etc. The degree may vary individually, and may impact therapy motivation.