Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Amnesia Solution?

Okay, Jerome is a gift that just keeps on giving, regarding blogging material. Yesterday, he made another comment on a post that got my attention. I quote: "I'm convinced (though I cannot prove it) that if I were to have amnesia and therefore wouldn't remember that I was 'supposed' to stutter, I wouldn't stutter anymore."

This is an intriguing concept to consider. I have heard, on a few occassions, by one expert or another, that stuttering is an authentic affliction up until one is around the age of 12 or so. Beyond that, it's a habit. Just as you can't "forget" how to smoke...(which is what makes quitting so difficult) can't "forget" how to stutter. It's become such a habit to tense up and expect to stutter, that you sort of cause it to happen. Perhaps it's an example of "which came first"...the stutter or the approach to speaking that causes the stutter?

If I could have amnesia for a's very possible that I'd have no idea that I ever became stressful when approaching speech...and that, for that day alone, I'd not stutter. Of course, this only works if it's true that my stutter is only a result of my own stress towards speaking. If the affliction exists whether I'm stressed or not when approaching speech, then it probably wouldn't work...and I'd simply discover on that day that I stutter...discovering it all over again for the first time.

I tend to agree with Jerome, however, that I probably wouldn't stutter. I believe this because, for my own speech, when I am pretty confident...I won't stutter. For example, if I talk to myself in my car alone...there is no stutter. And one of the major problems of learning to become confident in situations where I'm usually stressed...I have this entire history behind me of being stressed in those situations...that I have to sort of "unlearn". It's easy to say, "I will no longer be stressed"'s not so easy to put that into action, since I have years and years of becoming stressed in those situations behind me, providing a very firm foundation of stress that is nearly impossible to overcome.

If I could forget about it, with amnesia, perhaps that would solve the problem. Thinking further, I wonder if hypnosis could undo some of that historical foundational stress?


Jerome said...

Hi LawStudent,

You're welcome! But don't forget I'm just babbling and thinking out loud! ;)

But I really think that it's mostly habit. We, at some time in the past, picked up a wrong habit/technique/whatever, or maybe we had a temporary 'dysfunction' and unfortunately kept repeating it until the present day. So it has become a part of us. And it's hard to let go, to imagine yourself really as not stuttering! Because the doubts always creep in and, at least I, sometimes have the feeling that I would pretend to be somebody I'm not if I wouldn't stutter in certain situations!? And whooosh, I'm back into stutter mode.

This identity thing is really strong ... It seems like you really have to rework yourself and still have the feeling that you're still you, so to speak. But you also know that there are lots of situations where you DO NOT stutter (alone, with animals, while singing, etc), so it's not a physical dysfunction per se. If it were, we would always stutter. Generally I also don't stutter when angry or when I've drank a beer too much on a party: again moments where I've somewhat forgotten who I am and who I'm supposed to be!

The problem is we've got the habit of forcing the words out in stress situations. We force until at least one word comes out and we see it as a success! A word, at last! When in fact the forcing was the culprit!

We (or at least I) have to change that automatic reaction, in a sort reprogram my brain so it will not resort to this ineffective 'problem solver' (stop breathing & trying to press out the words) anymore. It won't be easy. But changing habits never is ... And it's a matter of motivation too. What's stronger: My desire not to stutter or my desire to be lazy? Honestly, I'm not sure yet. Of course the stuttering bothers me sometimes, but I'm stuttering far less than in the past and I'm, damn!, used to it ...

Breaking the habits is hard :)

But I think I will give it a try again. And watch if I keep catching the bad reflex kicking in in certain situation. Awareness is the first step to change ...

Law Student said...

Hi again! It seems the major obstacle to becoming comfortable in stressful unlearning how to be stressed in those circumstances. Especially because we ordinarily have YEARS of foundational stress underlying it all. How do you UNSCRAMBLE EGGS? That's the $25,000 question! Like you said, how do you forget to be yourself? :)