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Stuttering, circa 1950

About 12 years ago, I was at my wife’s grandparents house…where I ran into a relic of the past.  An encyclopedia set.  (!)  So I looked up “stuttering”, and here’s what I got:

Stuttering, sometimes called stammering, is a form of anxiety tension, manifested as a disturbance in the fluency of speech, motivated by an apprehensive anticipation of difficulty in initiating or maintaining an adequate flow of speech.

Pertinent surveys indicate that nearly 1 per cent of American school children stutter.  According to Prof. Charles VanRiper, Dr. C. S. Bluemel, Dr. Emil Froeschels, and other authorities, stuttering generally begins in early childhood and nearly always consists of easy, simple repetitions and hesitations in its early stages.  This general view has been confirmed and elaborated by studies reported from the State University of Iowa Speech Clinic, which indicate that the average age of onset of the difficulty is three years.  The studies also indicate that children who develop stuttering do not differ as a group from nonstuttering children so far as intelligence, health, physical development, speech development, and general behavior are concerned.  It is of particular importance that stuttering is usually originally diagnosed by laymen, usually the parents. What they diagnose as stuttering appears in the usual case to be indistinguishable from the ordinary repetitions and hesitations in the speech of normal young children, between the ages of two and five, who have been found to average 45 repetitions per 1,000 words.

As to treatment, there is general agreement that stuttering should be treated as a form of anxiety tension.  The main objective is to reduce the anxiety of fear regarding stuttering, and by this means, and in direct ways also, to reduced the hesitancy and tension characteristics of the stutterer’s speech.  Mental hygiene, or personality re-education, also is indicated in many cases to counteract the maladjustive effects of stuttering.  The treatment of young children is chiefly a matter of parent education designed to change the parental policies, so as to remove the sources of the child’s anxiety tension, which may be harmfully increased by parental demonstration of concern or by actually instructing the child to stop and start over, to speak more slowly, or to stop and think.

— (W.J.)
Collier’s Encyclopedia
Frank W. Price (editorial director)
Charles P Barry (editor in chief)
P.F. Collier and Sons Corporation, New York
First edition
Manufactured in the United States of America
Volume /S/  p. 258

And the sad thing is… this view (largely based on a predjudice second to the fundamental attribution error) is still pretty prevelant today…

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  1. Leo
    June 16th, 2009 at 20:54 | #1

    The initials W.J. in final, don’t they mean “Wendell Johnson”? Argh!


    Greg @ Stuttering.me Reply:

    That would be my only guess… 🙂


    ruby Reply:

    due to surveys of myself,i know without a doubt that the drug efexor-xr an anti depresant has stoped i say stopped my stuttering in its tracts.i have gone off this drug and my stuttering has come back. gone on it again, stuttering has stopped.i believe without a doubt that this drug is the answer to stop stuttering. i have informed a friend who stutters badly about this and am waiting for his results.


    Greg @ Stuttering.me Reply:

    Yes, drugs like Venlafaxine may help some people with the overt symptoms of stuttering… lending credence to the notion that there are a variety of stuttering sub-types. But here in the states, Venlafaxine isn’t looked upon too well, as it seems to promote suicidal tendencies in some people. The side effects ought not be worse than the condition in which it treats…

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