Stages of coping – Louise Heite
It have took me more than 10 days to finish off the mini biography of a mature lady how she cope up the fear of stuttering in her life & placed stuttering as an integral part of her life.
This biography was written in mid of last decade on 20th century, I guess. That would have been the time when internet had started to play as a crucial mode of communication between strangers. That was the time she got in contact with few stuttering resources available on internet. This way she got to have had a deep sense of behaviors of people with stuttering, including her own self.
According to her, accommodating a stutter involves a great deal of learning, from the early stage of recognition (to face the fact that I stutter) to final stages of integration (alternative word is ‘cure’).This success of this journey will depend on how someone accumulates knowledge about himself, about the environment & conditions in which someone is living & its impact on his speech, various techniques of articulation, monitoring & stutter management & a lot of other learnable details. She didn’t denied the possibility that someone may seek various techniques exploring the science of mind (for me , vipassana & other meditation techniques would be a few).
She didn’t tried to place stuttering in the category of any mental &/or physical phobia. Although, she did refer the emotional & social consequences of stuttering more or less similar to these disorders. Stuttering, like any other phobia, tends to make the person to lose of momentarily control over his speech & other fundamental aspects of his behavior while speaking.Stuttering itself doesn’t harm anyone physically or mentally.These are the list of emotional processes developed due to the negative attitude towards stuttering (fear,shame,guilt etc.would be on top of this list), which causes a chronic deep impact on subconscious of some one’s mind, which might take a life long process to dissolve these self generated undesirable labels.
She also revealed the fact that anticipatory fears (fearful conditions, difficult words etc.)used to change with time.For instance, a stutterer might get surprised after passing through a feared condition without much struggle & vice versa.
After this brief about stuttering & its characteristics (negative off course), she revealed the secret called ‘Stages of recovery’ (can be considered as ‘cure’ also).
These stages, in order, are Denial,Recognition, Aversion, Resignation, Acceptance, self Acceptance & finally Integration. Integration can further expand to Compassion, but for most of the stutterers, it would be sufficient to integrate their stuttering in their lives. These seven stages would be a life long process of every stutterer, the duration spent in each stage may differ from person to person. The progress through these stages will not be linear at all.For instance, a stutterer may feel almost impossible to pass over a particular stage, on the other hand, some one readily pass through that stage with ease.Also for many stutterers (if not for most) the progress is not forward always, & may face frequent set backs to get skitted in the immediate backward stage. Then again the process of suprassing that stage to reach the next stage would take place.
The stage of Denial for any stutterer doesn’t seems logical as he observes this phenomenon(stuttering) so frequently (exception for very mild stutterers).However, he may tend to show off denial after observing the fact that stuttering is not socially unacceptable, in general. He feels comfortable in getting labels such as ‘Reserved’, ‘shy’ or ‘serious’ rather than to be considered as stutterer. Parents can also feeds the feeling of denial in a stutterer by ignoring this uneasiness in speech of their kins or repeating the line ‘it would gradually disappear with age’ when ever the stutterer look at them stuttering. Generally, people at this stage doesn’t seek treatment & pass over to the next stage of Recognition. Recognition is what can be termed as the stage when denial would not be able anymore to help the stutterer in hiding this hard fact about his speech. Although, after recognizing this speech impediment, still the stutterer wouldn’t prefer to discuss about his stuttering in general. He would prefer to seek treatment with lowest possible exposure of his stutter. Recognition can be termed as the first step towards learning where he would be trying to get some genuine information about this phenomenon rather than just practising knowingly ignorance.
After Recognition, it comes Aversion, the most dangerous of all the stages, where the stutter started to develop all the undesirable feeling about his stutter, deep in his subconscious.This would also be the most noisy stage where stutter would develop few or more of the such as self pity.anger,shame,violence,guilt etc.This is also the stage when stutter would seek every possible source of improvement in speech by external resources such as therapy,medicines etc.At this stage, the stutter would seek only results rather than concentrating on the process itself, would be so desperate to achieve fluency, dreaming how different his life would be once he achieves fluency.He might work very hard to achieve that temporary fragile fluency & would trapped in even more aversion(may be termed as depression) once he realize that it was only a temporary phase. He might feel top of the world today realizing almost flawless speech & would feel trapped in the deepest ocean of stutter tomorrow only.
Next stage, Resignation can be considered as pre acceptance stage where the person quits all efforts to achieve the so called glamorous flency which he ever dreamed of .Now he started to accept the fact that he would be a stutter throughout his whole life, although he doesn’t feel good at all accepting it. He would try to negotiate with the outer world regarding his stutter & will try to reanalyze what can he do with all that piles of speech therapies,books & whatever he had gone in previous stages of recovery. Although it would be a grief in his resignation, but at the same time, he would feel a sense of ‘Relief’
That he didn’t need to continue his restless race for achieving fluency anymore as he gonna be a stutter for a long, long time. Fortunately, this would be a positive momentum towards Acceptance where a person accepts this speech impediment in his life as a permanent phenomenon. He would not seek much new tricks/techniques to overcome it, rather he would make efforts, developing the skills he found beneficial (out of all he learnt till date) towards his acceptance for stuttering.
In this stage of acceptance, the stutter would try to stutter fluently rather than seeking speech fluency. It would be a fun experience for him to face the outer world, now onwards. Marching through this stage, the stutter would make efforts to contribute positively for the betterment of other’s life who share this speech impediment. More he get involved in the process of betterment of other stutters, more openly he would need to accept his stuttering, which in turn, would make him move cheerfully to next stage, called Self acceptance. During this mid stage between acceptance & integration, the stutterer will not feel as excited as he was in previous stage while sharing the taste of inner joy & bliss he felt, accepting his stutter.Now he would feel the spirit of ‘Move on’ & will consider other issues in his life, which he almost kept aside while fighting with stuttering, an integral part of his life. He wouldn’t care his frequeny of stuttering anymore. But at the same time, he wouldn’t mind to be a gentle, deliberate & well managed speaker to ripe fruitful communication goals, rather than hiding his stuttering by slow speaking techniques.
Finally, it comes Integration, the stage of deep internal healing, or you can say satisfaction. The stutterer would fully accept himself as a stutterer & will look forward to face all the consequences without any feeling damaged. The fear of stuttering would be an ‘out of sight’ thing, now onwards.
Beyond integration, the writer forecasts ‘Compassion’ as the next level, as she was still enjoying the journey of Integration with her stuttering at the time of writing this mini booklet of practical experience with her stuttering.