Saturday, August 29, 2009

"I Used To Stutter"...cured? Not so fast.

I came across a man on YouTube whose channel name is "Iusedtostutter" or, in plain terms, "I Used To Stutter". His name is Rechaud and you'll find his YouTube channel here:

He has uploaded six videos and they are all about his method of over-coming stuttering by speaking "From the heart". From what I have gathered, he is a former student of Tony Robbins, the self-help guru who has empowered millions of people through his motivational speaking venues, many books and tapes. There is no doubt that Tony Robbins has helped many people and there is no doubting that many of his methods of self-help are real and work. Often, what holds us back is our own fears and our own psychological mindset. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. And perhaps there is some truth to the notion that part of our stuttering is caused by a psychological loop of failure that continually leads to even more dysfluency.

What bothers me about Rechaud's videos is that he says that we "choose" to stutter. He says that it fulfills some need in our life that makes us reliant or addicted to stuttering. These are emotionally appealing statements, but they are not based on any real scientific proof or medical research. I am also bothered by the fact that he claims he has found the cure for stuttering. Here is why:

One of the first things I notice about Rechaud is that, despite his claims, he clearly still stutters. I don't point this out to say, "Haha, look, you still stutter, so you're lying!" I point it out to show that he is clearly applying a positive-affirmation sort of technique that, by virtue of just saying he used to stutter, somehow it will manifest through confidence and sheer will power. Rechaud's stutter is minimal. I will give him that. But, listen to the very affected way he speaks. He calls that, "speaking from the heart", but, really, it's just a form of distraction. The same thing manifests in many stutterers when they speak with a foreign accent, or when they pretend they are John Wayne or when they act from a script.

It's actually a well known form of speech therapy. When some stutterers speak in a very affected voice, their stutter virtually disappears. The problem with this form of speech therapy is that, instead of focusing more on the words you are speaking, you are focused more on HOW you are speaking the words. And it works as long as you keep up the affected voice. What inevitably happens, though, is that eventually, you are unable to keep up the affected voice for too long. It becomes tiring and wearisome, not only for the stutterer, but also to the listener, as well. Imagine trying to use that affected, "Tony Robbins" preachy voice when you are at Starbucks sitting across from your best friend. The method works well when you are trying to motivate someone through a motivational speech. It will work well when you are preaching some religion. It will work well when you are speaking about something emotional. But, if you sit down and use it to tell someone how to change a spark plug, you would sound like an idiot.

And don't forget the most important thing about this method: it simply doesn't work for every stutterer. As is the case with all therapies and methods.

For proof of my observations about Rechaud, go watch his latest video where he is standing in his kitchen talking about his method. You'll notice he is in full form, preaching about his cure in a very loud, affected voice, replete with hand gestures and very enunciated, emotionally punctuated words placed carefully throughout his speech. He sounds like a motivational speaker. Even still, if you are a seasoned stutterer, you'll pick up on the hesitations, the carefully chosen words...two big signs that he is avoiding blocking situations. I use this same method when I do public speaking, groups with my kids at the hospital and even when I counsel one-on-one with a kid. It's being in "On" mode and it does work. The problem is, you can't do it all the time.

Next, watch one of his videos where he is casually sitting in his living room, talking about the same cure, but the affected voice is gone and he is just having a conversation. The blocks are more frequent and at one point, he excuses himself for what is clearly a block and then reprimands himself for doing so.

Let me be clear: I am not making this post to impugn Rechaud or anyone's endeavor to "speak from the heart" in order to become fluent. I am posting this to reveal exactly what we are talking about here. It's not a's a method that will give some people more confidence and it's a method that will work sometimes with some people, but as we can clearly see with Rechaud, it doesn't even work all of the time with people who undertake it. If it helps to build your confidence, then I applaud your endeavor. If it makes you feel ashamed because you believe him when he tells you that you still "choose to stutter", then I say shame on Rechaud. The method simply will not work for everybody.

If it were a "cure" as Rechaud is saying, the method wouldn't even be necessary after awhile. When I got my polio vaccine as a child, there was nothing else I had to do to avoid being infected by the dread disease. It was a done deal with the vaccine. The fact that Rechaud has to apply his method every day in his speaking situations is proof positive that it's not a's a fluency method. And if it continues to work for him or anybody else, that is wonderful.


marry said...

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Stuttering Stanley said...

Thanks for the comment!

karim said...

An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

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Michael Williams said...

Thanks for the insightful post. I would differ with you on one major point. One can learn to speak with a new style and keep it up.

Now, the preachy, motivational style is certainly NOT appropriate for conversations for sure. But, the core of the technique you use to present, and that this guy uses is extremely effective for many, many people who stutter.

Avvo Law said...

He has removed every single video that Stanley describes in his blog. Perhaps to....avoid embarrassment? haha The videos are NO WHERE TO BE FOUND. Most likely because that will reveal the deception in his deviousness, fostered by Tony Robbins. It makes sense. Why would he want to reveal a trick that he used so that today he too can be a motivational speaker. The original video of his actual interaction with Tony Robbins however is well....ALL OVER THE PLACE! Because using his hoax as an advertisement tool to deceive people, any video that would unmask the truth has been deleted by him.

Here2Do said...

While I can understand why this blogger would be critical of Rechaud's technique but to the average person, that meets Rechaud on the street or at a place of business, what difference does it make? If he is able to control his stuttering, the vast majority of the time with this technique, I would say good, go teach it to others.

Here2Do said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stuttering Stanley said...

I don't mind that he has found a way to be stutter-free. Yes, teach it to others if you wish. Don't pretend you have found a cure, however, and especially don't tell others that you have...when the experts in the field know there is no known cure and also because this person clearly has not been cured himself. That's the problem I have with it, and I explained all of this in the blog entry. To me, it's about honesty in the dissemination of information. The same way I feel when people claim that this herb or that plant "cures" cancer, when we clearly know that is not the case. We stutterers are constantly on the prowl for a "cure" or therapies or treatments that work. We don't like people advertising cures that actually are not cures. Thanks for your comment! :)

Stuttering Stanley said...

Michael Williams said: "One can learn to speak with a new style and keep it up."

Stuttering Stanley: Thanks for the comment. Can you demonstrate this...or is it just your opinion? You see, I have read dozens of books on stuttering and have been studying therapies and cures for years and I know by experience and through study that the technique you are referring to is not always forever effective. This is why if there is a technique that is effective for you...that's the way it should be advertised. It may work for you. No therapy seems to work for everybody and that's the way honest people should spread information about medical/psychological conditions. When you advertise things as a "cure" for everybody, it makes it sound like snake-oil or some scheme to make money off of the suffering of others. Your statement would better be worded, in my not-so-humble opinion as "One MAY learn to speak with a new style and keep it up. It depends on the person." Stuttering is not like a bad habit that can be overcome by having a positive attitude, despite what some might say. The experts in the field, the research, statistics, neurologists and all of the decades of therapies and treatments all agree with this truth. Thanks for the comment!

crims said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
crims said...

I don't know where you get the idea that it's something we don't choose. It is, you know that we can speak fluently at times, we can sing fluently, and many people can talk to animals or to them self fluently. There is something in our mind that says, "i will stutter now." that's a choice.

Majoring in chemistry, a field of "science." I can tell you that, there are many things that aren't proven, doesn't mean it's not true. There is no evidence that we even exist.

Tony Pearson said...

Crims, stuttering is not something we choose and there is a mountain of research on the subject, so forgive me if I don't just acquiesce to your uninformed opinion. The most educated minds in the field aren't even sure about everything. That you can summarily and categorically state that we choose it..shows that you have much too high of your own opinion. Come back when you have a PhD in speech pathology and a mountain of scientific and medical research. Maybe then I'll listen and take you more seriously. Thanks for the comment! :)

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José Lopes said...

Olá, me chamo José Lopes e sou brasileiro. Achei muito legal a sua postagem. Mas tenho a minha opinião , acredito que o vídeo é mais uma questão de fé, uma motivação para todas as pessoas. E acredito sim que Rechaud pode ter curado ou melhorado muito a sua fala. Mas entendo, que como o senhor colocou no seu post a cura não se aplica a todas as pessoas com gagueira. Mas o vídeo em si na minha opinião é especificamente uma mensagem de fé. No mais, muito bom seu post, parabéns pelo conteúdo e principalmente pelo respeito de suas palavras em relação ao tema.

sunyogi said...

I'm not informed about stuttering, but I heard Dr John Demartini say that stuttering is related to father issues and the masculine side of the brain. He asks, "When do people who normally don't stutter start stuttering or losing fluency?" When they feel criticised, pressured, etc which is a response to masculine aggression. So when using the other side of the brain for singing, then stuttering doesn't occur.

Anyway, the thing that I took away from Rechaud is that Tony got him to access the warrior within. He also picked up on his father's aggression at the time it started. So I think it was relevant in this case, perhaps even more than "speaking from the heart." Maybe he needs this aggression and hand waving and motivational tone to really access that part of himself.

Also, maybe you've heard of it, but there is another thing called sub-personalities as described in Voice Dialogue which can demonstrate that not all parts of the personality stutter. You can talk to a stuttering sub personality and then switch to another sub personality and it won't stutter. Its a practical system for exploring the personality.

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Kenny Aires said...

Awesome job explaining this case... It was the first situation from Tonny Robbins that I felt doubt - maybe they were too direct on the marketing message on the famous Rechaud's 7-minutes-cure video that it looks unreal. Now I see the real side of it throw your post, which shows also the virtue of NLP on such treatments...

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