August 27, 2011

Stammering- Is there a complete Cure?

Paper from Sanjib Talukdar for National Conference
When I recollect my childhood, it brings a sense of happiness and I often become nostalgic yearning for the carefree life I enjoyed with my parents, relatives, neighbours, friends and most importantly my cousins. But then it was during my childhood, a demon in disguise called ‘SSStammering’ slowly started to attack me and as time passed by, it became an integral part of my life. A quick reminiscence of my past reminds me that I first started to stammer when I was 8 or 9 yrs old and a feeling of perpetual sadness and gloominess overshadowed my adolescent life.
Till today, I have not been able to realize whether my stammering is mild or a bit more than that or intense as my stuttering varies from situation to situation, from one day to another or according to the language I speak ( personally I am more comfortable while speaking in English rather than in my regional language).By the time I was 20, I set forward in my journey for a hundred percent fluency ,being very determined to speak like non-stutterer ( say for instance fast and fluent like my mother).
My quest for a sure cure forced me to believe in a misleading advertisement on stammering which claims that stammering can be completely cured in two weeks time. The name of the centre is Stammering Cure Centre, a centre which is run by one Mr. Partha Bagchi who was an ex-stammerer by himself and who proclaims that stammering can be cured in 2 weeks as he firmly held the view that “STAMMERING IS NOT A DISEASE, A PSYCHOLOGICAL & BAD HABITUAL PROBLEM”.
I have to confess I went to his centre thrice expecting a sure cure but later realized that a sure cure in my case is not possible because a self analysis of Mr. Partha Bagchi’s techniques revealed to me that stammering is controllable as the end result of his techniques was to speak in a medium lengthening style developing my own mode of speaking. I am very happy for those people who believe that they are cured after attending Mr. Bagchi’s classes, but in my case, I was always looking for a cure in my natural style of speaking ,not a cure by control by using a slow or medium lengthening style of speaking.
Anyways I no longer have any grievances or grudge against Mr. Partha Bagchi as there may be many people who might have benefitted from his techniques, but in my case it was a big dissatisfaction as I could never find the sure cure and the unmodified natural way of speaking like a non-stutterer. In my case, I was simply misled by his self proclaimed sure cure advertisements .Whom to blame now? I think myself as I was so desperate to transform myself to a non stutterer ,I was looking for anything that might help me , after all, “A drowning man will clutch at a straw”.
A quick search in the internet will show that there are many websites which advertises that stammering can be curable. Now after the lesson learnt after attending Stammering Cure Centre at Bangalore, I think the word “cure” is not appropriate, rather the word “control” is more justifiable, taking into account a stammerer must constantly work on his communication skills.
In the 29th year of my life, I started to look for more information and materials in the internet and more importantly during this period, my interaction with a local speech pathologist in fact opened my eyes and put an end to my quest for turning into a non- stutterer as he was very candid to state that there is no cure for stammering as the cause is still unknown and there is no one single technique that will work for all stammers , and that there may be relapse of stammering again for those people who managed to overcome stammering. Rather than looking for a complete cure, he asked me to accept this problem, practice speech therapy and control my speech as well as my mind (we stammerers are prone to suffer from emotional setbacks). If one looks at the website of British Stammering Association (BSA) (, one can find the following statements which are so true-
“BSA is frequently asked whether there is a cure for stammering. It's a natural enough question, given that there are courses advertised which claim to offer a complete and final cure for stammering. In addition, it is a question that is quite likely to be in the minds of people who have had some experience of speech therapy, perhaps when they were a lot younger, but find themselves still struggling with their speech.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence of a universal cure for stammering - in other words, there is no approach that works like a magic pill for everyone. This situation is perhaps not so surprising when it is considered that there is still no complete answer to the question, 'What causes stammering?' Most experts agree that it is due to a combination of factors - physiological, neurological, psychological and environmental - but the precise ways that these factors operate together is not known, and clearly the combination will be different from one individual to another”.
An introspection of my own self simply made me realize that I never tried to understand the scientific cause of stammering ,all I was doing was ‘me’,’ my story’ and ‘my dream of a sure cure’. In my own perspective, the exact cause of stammering is not known and hence there cannot be a sure cure. Research has shown that stammering may be due to genetic or hereditary factors, or neurogenic factors like signal mismatch between the brain and speech nerves/muscles. Whatever may be the cause of stammering which is still unknown, stress, pressure, fear and anxiety increases stuttering and contrary to a popular believe, lack of confidence is a result of stammering and is not its cause.
We live in a world of science and technology. I firmly hold the belief now that any self proclaimed cure should be well grounded in scientific logic or should we still believe in such false advertisements of ‘’ SURE CURE” promise which states unscientific cause of stammering like childish imitation of other stammerers either in the family or outside? an after effect of certain serious illness such as typhoid, malaria, prolonged fever, convulsion etc? strict, rude & rough guardianship? shy or introvert nature from childhood; disturbances and quarrel in the family and so on and so forth?
The above are my views about stammering and its “sure cure” misleading advertisements which even victimized me, which pushed me farther into a state of melancholy and sadness. I would request all to be very careful if somebody wants to try a “A SURE CURE” course by any self proclaimed experts, failure to find this ‘sure cure’ will definitely result in emotional setback plus loss of time and money.
On a personal basis, I have been moved to see the contribution that The Indian Stammering Association (TISA) has made for the PWS (people who stammer), I am happy to be associated with them. TISA definitely will discuss in this conference a number of issues related to stammering, my only suggestion is that ‘NEVER FALL IN TRAP INTO THE WORD CURE BY MISLEADING ADVERTISEMENTS’ and that acceptance of this problem, never to give up attitude, trust on God, YOGA and meditation will certainly help. I myself still find it difficult to speak and convince people in certain situations, have come across situations where listener do not have time to listen patiently to what I say, much depends on how the society will accept me and my stutter, but life has to move on.
Wishing all the participants a great success and ever growing happiness in life. I am sure enough a lot of positive change will come in the life of each and every participant after attending this conference. All the best and keep smiling.
Sanjib Kumar Talukdar (ASSAM)
Ed: In TISA’s experience, there are many PWS who have been in the same situation as Sanjib (the author). We just want to say one thing: please don’t blame yourself. It does not help. If anyone needs to be blamed it is the society which permits (or looks the other way) such unethical advertising and practices. Share your experiences and help others, instead.


Anupinder Singh said...

very good thoughts....thanks sachin sir for posting this.....

Dhruva Kathuria said...

The only way to end these unethical practices is by being the change we wnt to see

Rajesh said...

Acceptance is the only way out. Do not, under any circumstances, blame yourself. IT IS NOT OUR FAULT. I say this to myself so many times a day. It is not my fault. Is a polio victim to be blamed for not being able to run? Is a person with depression to be blamed for his genetic susceptibility to depression? Understand that it is a condition that we are born with. Acceptance and talking about openly are wonderful tools. There is no other way, just no other way to lead a happy life. Don't struggle with your speech, speak very slowly, and if you block, let the other person wait as you get over it. But you have to slow down, very very important, slowing down is very important, then acceptance and not looking at it as your fault.