Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ousmane's theory on stuttering

Ousmane sent me his theory of stuttering. So I give him here the opportunity for others to get to know his theory. I am sure he would happy if you comment on it.

I did:
"I disagree with your theory. 1) you can still have neurological issues even when speaking fluent when alone. it could be that your system is too sensitive to stress and other demands because it is not optimally developed. 2) some people sometimes stutter when alone and sometimes not. 3) i believe there is a continuum in neurological issue: from severe to mild. 4) speaking on your own is NOT the same as speaking to others, which demands much more resources even if you have no stress."

Here is Ousmane's theory:

  -It’s not the situation itself that generates stress but the perception we have of it. Also, before a stressful situation, there is an automatic interior answer that is not managed by our will. For fluent people, the answer is proportional to the level of stress. If the stress lasts for a certain period of time, that answer will be recorded and served by the
organism each time there is some stress and it will not be anymore proportional to the present level of stress but to the past one that occurred so often that the mind decided to record it as in the Pavlov experience. The principle of this answer is to offer more energy to the vital functions to help them face stress and its main consequence is the lack of energy for non vital ones like speaking. Therefore, stuttering is the result of a wider deployment of energy for vital functions at the expense of non vital ones. All that will help mitigate that automatic answer will set free more energy that will go to non vital one and will ease speech. That’s the aim of techniques that try to control stuttering. To cure it, it will be necessary to uninstall that automatic answer that demands more energy for vital functions when it’s not necessary.
      Someone is stuttering when he/she is having hard time to talk about simple things while there is no pressure coming from the environment.
Type I and Type II
One of the reasons why there is so much confusion about stuttering might be that no difference has been clearly made between people who stutter even when they are alone (type I) and those who don't do it when they are alone (type II). This attempt of theory  concern more type II and my hypothesis is that those who are dealing with type I should scarcely have stuttering as their unique problem as it should be caused by a deficit in the maturation of their brain and its manifestations should be quite the same than the one kids are facing when they start to talk. Their stuttering should be scarcely fluctuant even if it’s still caused by a shortage in the quantity of energy necessary to produce speech but the difference will come from the reason of that shortage. For type II, it is because of an answer recorded by the brain to face stress (psychological) and for type I by an insufficiency in the maturation of the brain (neurological) and one of the reasons why stuttering is still a riddle might be that what is valid for type I is not necessarily valid for type II.
Why stuttering?
Nowadays, speaking fluently and clearly is one the best qualities required to thrive in society. But speaking isn’t the only function existing in human being. We have to defend our body from the interior and exterior attacks, preserve our interior equilibrium, finance our muscle tension, the circulation, the operation of the heart, think, see, hear, make the metabolism works well, preserve our temperature… These different functions can be vital (in case of a failure life becomes in a serious danger) or non vital (without them, we still can survive) and are using the same energy for their operation. This is a distinction made by Mother Nature and that energy is managed by a dictator in us, not by our own will. Its strategy is to offer first the needed energy to vital functions and if there is something left, it goes to non vital ones like speaking, thinking (functions that have real value in society). In situation of stress, more energy is required for vital functions to face that threat and there will be less left for non vital one, mainly for an energy-guzzling like speaking. An examination of how the brain works during stuttering shows that there is more activity in the right hemisphere than in the left one. Unlike those who think that stutterers try to talk with their right hemisphere,  my hypothesis through that observation is that right hemisphere is the seat of vital functions and people whose Broca and Wernicke’s areas are in the right side of the brain will never face type II stuttering.    
   As long as life is not in danger, the priority goes to the mental equilibrium that is to say that, if necessary, the mental will receive a preferential treatment at the expense of the body: psychosomatic conversion is an illustration. But when the existence of the person itself is thoroughly threatened, the energy that was used to protect the equilibrium of the mental from the backflows is even recuperated to intensify the struggle for the defense of life: reason why delusions appear when the disease has peaked.
The mechanism
In everyday life, fluent persons can happen to face ephemeral stuttering, surely in situation of stress. How come stress may affect speech?
To my small mind's eyes, this is what happens with type II.
Any stressful situation requires an answer which is modeled on the level of the stress generated. The answer will be to provide the needed energy to secure the correct operation of the interior equilibrium; vital functions take more energy to face stress. As they use more of a constant quantity, there will be less left for the non vital ones like speaking that requires a minimum of energy to be produced fluently. That mechanism of direct debit is valid for fluent people and is even more for stutterers. But for fluent people, when the stress is away or they are used to the situation, their speech becomes fluid like in normal situations and their answer in situation of stress will still be modeled on the level of the present stress.
So how come stutterers keep on having block when there is almost no stress around them (talking on the phone, introducing themselves, discussing in a friendly environment…) ? If the direct debit mechanism operates on anybody, it should exist another mechanism that is the difference of principle between type II stutterers and fluent people.
    On that point, the experience of Pavlov will be our support. If stress happens scarcely, it will never lead to type II stuttering. But if it’s recurrent because of family move, family conflict, intimidation on the street, at school, birth of a sibling…, the brain will record a physiological answer modeled on the recurrent stress andwill serve it by anticipation each time it detects a small level of stress. That conditional mechanism that arose from the repetition of the stressful situation will entertain itself each time the person stutters or in other words, each time the recorded answer is released after the detection of a small level of stress and that’s why the fear of stuttering will lead to stuttering because it will bring the needed stress that will trigger the recorded answer. To make the verification, a type II should stutter alone when inoculated the hormone of stress. There is no type II stuttering without a lasting cloud of stress at a certain time of the stutterer life. 
Regarding type I stuttering, the shortage is due to a deficit in the maturation of the brain. As it’s the origin of the energy we use, it should be completely similar to developmental stuttering. If their brain keeps on maturing, their stuttering should disappear with no intervention as there is no physiological answer recorded and much less entertained.
Type I and developmental stuttering should be fluctuating scarcely while type II should fluctuate from fluidity to muteness because it is possible to prevent the release of the answer by avoiding the deployment of the needed stress or once released, it’s possible to mitigate it with some techniques, products… or worsen it if there is an added stress. 
All that help to fight stress will reduce the intensity of type II stuttering because the answer will be mitigated and the direct debit will take less energy leaving more to non vitals.
What can be the consequences of such a theory?
-As non vitals and vital functions are using the same energy, the more a kid grow fast the less the maturation of the speech should be quick. Also, as boys grow faster than girls between 2 and 3, girls should be maturing speech earlier than boys because they should be using that precious resource to prepare themselves for a more physical life.
-Type II stutterers should have an average size higher than the rest of the population
- Type II stuttering should disappear after a certain time without stuttering
- Type I should not have stuttering as their unique problem. They should be frequently facing co morbidity.
-There is no genetically influence in type II and nothing is defective in their speech mechanism.
- In situation of stress, even for non stutterers, there should be more activity within the right hemisphere.
- The difference between boys and girls in the proportion of stutterer should be greater within type II than in type I.
- The reason why people don’t stutter when they sing is because the production of sound is vital from the point of view of the nature so well that it’s managed by the right hemisphere.
- Once the recorded answer is deactivated, type II will speak as if he never stuttered
-The difference between men and women in the number of stuttering people should come from the fact that, for the same weight and height, men use more energy to secure the operation of their vital functions even without stress: they have more incompressible expenses while the quantity of energy available for both genders should be quite the same. So men have less idle energy left for non vital functions. Then a relatively low level of stress will make a man energy less while a women of same weight and height who has more idle energy can, under that same level of stress, use part of it to secure the operation of their vital ones while having enough for speech and other social functions. One of the corollaries of this is that the more a person is small, the easier for him/her to talk even in stressful situations and the relative number of type II stutterers among small people should be much less than in general.
- Regarding type II, a therapy can try to deactivate the recorded answer, prevent its release or mitigate it once released.
How to diagnose stuttering?
When a kid is having tough times to talk, that can be considered as part of the normal process of speech maturation. But if there is tension in his surroundings (divorce, family problems, intimidation, new sibling, move…), the most alarming element should be fluctuations in the speech, mainly when his fluidity depends on the interlocutor. The more the growth is faster, the less one should worry about the speech mainly if the kid is a boy.

        People can wonder how come stuttering is due to lack of energy to produce speech while stutterers are able to repeat indefinitely the syllable without interruption. If it’s just a matter of energy why don’t they just use the energy for repetition to further their speech?
That would be a great remark to invalidate my attempt of theory except if you consider that syllable repetition doesn’t only exist with stutterers. Almost in all cultures, the first words taught to kids are one syllable or reiterated syllables. Also, in some cultures like in France, there is a tradition of reiterating the same syllable as nickname. This is because when uttering a syllable, one produces a mechanism that will be still available for the next if it is the same syllable. Then the energy spent to produce the second syllable is much less than what was spent to produce the first one in case of repeated syllable. From that moment, no type II should face difficulties to utter the second syllable of a word having two identical syllables once the first is done.
It’s also noticed that stuttering gets milder when one becomes old. It will be interesting to know the changes that happen at that time. My hypothesis is that at that age, despite the recorded answer which still operates, there is more idle energy coming from the decrease in muscle tension and no doubt different other energy savings or budget cuts. Maybe old age is ENERGY austerity plan in the purpose to promote brain at the expense of muscle.

     No doubt human being started to talk when they did their best to reduce the level of stress in their everyday life. But speaking is not a gift from the nature. It’s a renewable subsidy as long as Nature doesn’t need the raw material of it.


Hugh said...

If Ousmane had ever heard of spasmodic dysphonia, he would never have invented this theory. Ousmane, you need to read this:

"Spasmodic dysphonia usually presents itself in a way that appears to be a mental/emotional problem brought on by stress. One of the oddities of the condition is that you can often speak normally to your pet but you can't speak to humans. Sometimes you can sing or recite a poem but you can't answer a question. For many years the medical community classified spasmodic dysphonia as a mental problem. At one point in my search for a cure, I ended up in a psychologist's office turning down her offer for Valium. Her best guess what that stress had rendered me unable to speak in certain situations. I've heard from other people who have spasmodic dysphonia that they too got the "crazy" diagnosis before figuring out the real problem."

(Source: Scott Adams' blog)

That is, Tom is really right when he says "you can still have neurological issues even when speaking fluent when alone".

Anonymous said...

Everyone is missing the point

Ok so this is genetics.
So r u just sitting there doing nothing and blaming it on genetics?

Do you guys even practice?
Almost all of them i have seen practice do not stutter in public.

Almost 90% of stutters do not practice or are too lazy to practice everyday

Get a survey done, those who practice and those do not.
You will get your answer.

Because of genetics our stuttering may never go but practice practice and you will be able to speak fluenty in public.

Tom, do you practice everyday or are you too busy finding why we stutter.

I know i stutter but i dont practice. That is why i have confidence issues while speaking because our brain remembers everything. The last time you speak will be the next time you speak.

Practice makes perfect isnt a stupid phrase. It really does work.

Anonymous said...

I would propose the following to be the best CURE for stuttering..

When a child turns 4 and is old enough to understand, take a year off and make the child practice practice practice. So 12 months of rigorous practice sessions

No school, no social interaction, just hours and hours of practice and other speech building excercises.

The problem with the existing method is speech courses are twice or thrice a week. Each session of two-three hours each. Once that is over children go to play,interact with other kids who laugh and tell them you are NOT NORMAL.

Childrens brains are a blank state. You can write anything on that slate. Our parents,friends put pressure, force us to speak normal and create FEAR.

As i told our brain remembers everything. so the brain becomes aware that im ABNORMAL and i have to be normal so it tries to be normal but since genetics plays a part we cannot speak like normal kids. That creates a cycle of failure, more failure and ultimately nothing works.

So secluding the child and making him practice the whole year will most definately make him fluent his entire life.


Tom Weidig said...

They are NOT blank slates! That is the point. We stutter because you are stuttering blank slates. Many of us come with genes that make you or predispose you to stuttering!

Anonymous said...

Imagine if we found a way to normalise our stuttering brain.

Would we be fluent?
Absolutely No.

Because we dont even know how it feels to speak fluenty. The FEAR of failure is within us everytime we speak.

We will continue to stutter cuz we are in a lifelong habit.

Hence early intervention helps children to outgrow to their stuttering.

For adults we need to practice to make us reasonably fluent

One more interesting way is to 'erase our bad memories' I read that this is possible and this may well be what will make us fluent even if we do not find a way to rewire our brain

With no fear in our minds, we can speak without worrying about failure.

What do you think?

Here is the link:

Anonymous said...

Interesting but Think we should move on. No posts since 2 months. U busy Tom? Any new research or breakthrough happening?

Anonymous said...

I agree with above. The stutterers who do what they are supposed to do and confront the fear around their stutter and practice their techniques get better - those who don't, don't. Not rocket science, not brain science not Weidig science.
If all the contributors to all the stuttering forums and blogs stopped writing and started talking and practicing and living life to the full, not limited by their own dysfunctional beliefs then this issue would be kicked.
But no, according to God, aka Weidig, he was born with a stutter, he is a victim to it, it is so nasty and incurable, it is just a heinous, evil spell that he is cursed by.
How many other people have genetic oddities but they work to overcome them and if they don't we call them lazy but when we call a stutterer lazy the Stuttering Gestapo are out to shoot us.
But perhaps most telling of all is this conclusion from a study into genetics in stuttering "researchers concluded that their "results can explain only a small fraction of cases of stuttering."" Sounds like people may be stuttering up the wrong family tree.

Anonymous said...

"No school, no social interaction, just hours and hours of practice and other speech building excercises."

How cruel!