December 18, 2013

Comm WS Pune: Q & A part 2

Some more questions. If you are not satisfied, feel free to send me an email or phone. (sachin)

Underlying causes
I want to know about causes of stammering?
Current understanding is: The responsible genetic trait is inherited by some children (not all; often eldest or youngest male child; girls occasionally) which leads to certain changes in speech nerves in the brain. This leads to irregular transmission of nerve impulses from brain to articulators (tongue, jaw, lips) leading to dis-fluencies or blocks in speech. As we grow, we develop an elaborate set of avoidance behavior, beliefs, emotions and attitudes, as a defence mechanism against negative social reactions.
Childhood illnesses, infections, fears, injuries, tongue tie etc. has popularly been blamed but these reasons have been ruled out, since if these were really true, number of pws in different cultures would have been much much more than the standard 1% seen in different countries.
So, neuro-biological reasons may initiate the process, but in the long run, more than 90% of the problems constitute of psychological issues- distorted perception, feelings, attitudes.
To learn more check this research page. This too.

What is different between stammering and stuttering? Both are same.
Does Vitamin A help? Not in our knowledge.
Does stammering has any connection with mood or situation? I am fluent when I am on stage of mass communication.. How so?

Stammering has a big variability factor. It varies from person to person, and from day to day in the SAME person. Our “feared” words, situations, people etc. keep changing. There is no way to predict whether you will stammer during a certain interview or during a particular stage performance. You may be scared but suddenly, as you come on stage, you may see all the audience and realize that their expectation from you is a certain performance- not this or that kind of “speech”. You may suddenly get carried away by the moment, forget all about stammering and give your best performance! Some time, the reverse may happen. Too much expectation from yourself may break you down. But by and large, many pws have been able to conquer their fears on stage and become good communicators. Banglore SHG can tell you more about it.

Regarding situations, it has been seen that “power equation” in a given situation can sometime decide whether you will stammer or not. If you are in a “dominant position”, you may stammer less or not at all. You may stammer more when you go to Boss's cabin to discuss something- but if he comes to your cabin for the same discussion, you may not stammer much. But the fact is- fear gets associated with certain words, situations, people but in truth, it actually lives inside us, in our minds, not in external words, situations, tasks or people. Therefore, it is possible for you to remove your fear by working on yourself (through desensitization) rather than expecting the world to change.

Why is it that we stammer less with our family and more with strangers?
We know that family accepts us and will not be judging us for our speech. With strangers we often feel that we are being “critically judged” for every failure. So we try hard NOT to stammer. The harder we try, the worse our speech becomes. Remember, stammering is what you do, in order not to stammer. But some people may stammer more with family and less with strangers (at least in the first few meetings). They subconsciously feel no need to hide their stammering from the family. They speak more spontaneously with family and hence “stammer” more. There is no uniformity in our experiences.

Here is an interesting study on the experinces of pws.

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