A perfect example of how flawed thinking results in flawed (and useless) data
This article is both rich and ripe with fodder. I hardly know where to begin, but let’s trudge through this together. The title: “The relationship between mental health disorders and treatment outcomes among adults who stutter.” Again, let’s look at the assumptions the authors are making. Do we see articles on mental health disorders and the treatment of cerebral palsy? Do we see articles on mental health disorders and heart disease? Liver malfunction? No, you don’t; “that’s silly” is what you’re probably thinking. But this is an anchor to the negative stuttering stereotype: unexplained phenomenon below the neckline is usually viewed as physical or medical. Unexplained phenomenon occurring above the neckline (such as stuttering, cluttering, Tourette’s, etc) is generally not viewed as “medical”, but rather a character flaw (or character weakness) of the person. This prejudice is encapsulated in the title.
So let’s look at the article’s premise. The authors cite that only 1/3 of those that go through stuttering treatment have any real kind of lasting result. And they’re trying to figure out what makes this 1/3 ‘successful’, and the other 2/3’s failures. So they make the assumption that only those without mental disorders can retain therapeutic success post-treatment.
Let’s delve into this a little further. What they’re implying is that stuttering children and adults have mental health disorders. Ipso facto, it’s our fault. If we were strong enough not to have these mental health disorders, then we could make stuttering therapy work for us. It’s the old (bad) SLP playbook: “If first you don’t succeed, blame the client.”
But back to the study…The authors are predicting that only those without mental health disorders will retain therapeutic success. Stutterers that fail to succeed have mental health disorders. And what do you think they found? Data that supports their prejudicial assertion.
Now–how is this utterly and fatally flawed? It’s flawed in the hearts of the “researchers”. They’re pairing the cause of stuttering and the failure of stuttering treatment with psychological disorders. These are the predjucial glasses that they wear. And if you look for something, predjicially, you’ll be sure to find it. This is a perfect example of both: (a) pseudoscience, and (b) cargo-cult science. The authors fail to even respect or recognize that the cause of stuttering and failures in stuttering treatment are entirely beyond the realm of psychological or mental health disorders. But let me invalidate their entire study with one or two sentences. Those participants that scored as having a mental health disorders were more severe from the start; the stuttering ti-ger has been kicking their ass for an undocumented period of time, and this is being revealed in their psychological metric.
Looks like I just found yet-another crappy research article to use as an example in my classes. Keep it coming folks–this material helps my students become better and more critical scientific thinkers…