Make Room For The Stuttering

Biological or Psychological?

Posted on: October 18, 2011

In yet another current media article about stuttering, this time in the Huffington Post, psychoanalyst Peter Wolson suggests that the cause of stuttering may be psychological. Read his complete piece here: Is Stuttering Biological or Psychological? (10/16/2011)

In part, he writes: “There is abundant research evidence for a biological predisposition for stuttering; however, environmental stressors, such as family relations, can produce internal psychological conflicts that cause stuttering.”

There were quite a few comments, including mine. I heard from some readers in the stuttering community that their comments were not approved to be posted on the article.

What do you think? There are many perspectives on this topic.

1 Response to "Biological or Psychological?"

Pam, I didn’t read the article yet, but I am familiar with the discussion. Unfortunately, most people prefer either-or view of life – it is either ONLY biological, or ONLY psychological. Those are artificial distinctions created by people. Nature doesn’t work this way. People make distinction, reality operates the way it does. There was time when I couldn’t imagine to deliver a speech without stuttering – now it is no problem for me. I not only do not block when I deliver speeches, I do not have any fear or anticipation of blocks. What changed? My biology didn’t change – but my perception of public speaking changed. My speech changed as a result. I used to block so hard that I would sqeeze my eyes and do other grimacing, now when I stutter, I don’t do all this facial things, I stutter lightly. Was it my biology that caused me to push through block and tense all my muscles? No, it was my coping strategy, which as it turned out, could be changed. When I came in the US my stutetring was very mild – within months I felt so inferior because of my accent, I plummeted into severe blocking. Again – it is a fusion of biological makeup and psychological stuff. Today we know that early experiences not only shape our character – they shape our brain since it is still developing. Should we call this change biological (since brain is changing) or psychological – it changes because of things we experience. Recently I read a wondeful book about all biological changes that can be elicited in the human body by emotional stuff like being loved or emotionally neglected. My stuttering was most definitely affected by my childhood experences. The freedom of speech I experiience now in contract with my past blocking, is the result of changes that I made in my beliefs, perceptions, self-image etc. But I also have no doubt that my biological makeup made me sensitive to those experiences, which wouldn’t affect some other person in the same way.

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