Make Room For The Stuttering

Finding Himself – Male Episode 19

Posted on: November 20, 2012

Episode 19 features John Harrison, who “ran away from home at age 25.” He went from New York to California with nothing but a 5 day hotel reservation.

John wanted to go to California to find himself and his identity, and understand his stuttering, which took the form of silent blocks.

Listen in as we discuss how John found the National Stuttering Project (now the National Stuttering Association) and his involvment in the self help community over the years.

We also talk about how John came to see his stuttering as a system, which he details in his book “Redefining Stuttering: What The Struggle To Speak Is Really All About.” This is available as a free download on his website, HOLDING BACK: for people who stutter.

We also chat about Toastmasters, helping others and the richness of sharing our stories with each other.

Music used in this episode is credited to Dano Songs. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Feedback is a gift.

12 Responses to "Finding Himself – Male Episode 19"

He made me love public speaking. Am forever thankful.

A mentor and a friend…John Harrison has not only helped me find my voice he has helped me understand not only my stuttering but so much of myself. I use his theories almost daily.

My dear friend John Harrison. We just had lunch a couple of weeks ago and we were talking about podcasts and being interviewed. The man not only has an appetite for a good salad but a hunger for life. I feel blessed to call him a friend. I feel lucky to live minutes from him and am thankful that he is my guide as I (not so) slowly unravel this maze.

John has been a friend of mine for some 25 years. He and his wife Doris stayed with us in Norway some years back.
A wonderful and caring guy, I find him very enjoyable company – even if I have some disagreements with his theories.

My dear John, do you remember how you coached me and were so patient with my long painful blocks that could last several seconds and were hitting me every few words. In 2009 I joined Toastmasters, using our book as a guide, 8 months later I lost my first contest (but was very proud that i participated), another 8 months or so later won my first two rounds of inspirational contest and this fall won the District Humorous Contest and was awarded the VPE of the year. My life is richer, fuller and more exciting because of you. Not only I redefined my stuttering, I redefined myself. Thank you, John,

Hi John, greetings from Ireland, it was October 2002 that you advised me, what you said I will never forget and I will always be greatful for this advice as it transformed not only my stuttering but my whole holistic self. During our conversation you said “Michael unless you let go of consciously speaking with your technique every time you speak you will never reach freedom” that is all you said, it took me a while to figure it out, I no longer have the mindset or mentality of a stutterer, you taught me to trust myself, I now have a quality of life regarding my verbal communication that I always dreamed of, your advice put me on a different path.

Speak soon,
Michael O Shea.

Thanks “Pammie”, this was fun. I liked it. Hey, Pam, did you notice that John’s initials are J. C.? That must be why his many fans (of which I certainly am one) think of him as a savior. 🙂 Ruth Mead

John’s book – “Redefining Stuttering” was the first book i read about stuttering and i immediately fell in love with the concept of looking at stuttering as a system. Later i spoke to John couple of times on skype which for me was a wonderful experience. He’s a gr8 guy and a role model for many stutterers [me included :)]. Thanks for getting him on your show Pam! Loved the interview!!


This interview helps drive home how important self-perception is. John has numerous “bobbles” (to borrow a term from another SLP heretic, Morton Cooper) in his speech, but doesn’t perceive them as stuttering behavior. Getting right the mechanics of regular speech (Cooper), then allowing myself to not think about (anticipating problems) what I’m going to say(Mead), along with a little exhalation when nervous (Schwartz) — all mentioned by John as how he appproaches speech — has improved my fluency to a remarkable degree in a short period of time. Redefining my stutter has been really helpful, and I’m convinced can help most PWS. Great interview, Pam!

Well done John…..I have fond memories of your visit to Oz with your lovely wife Doris. You continue to help and inspire. Geoff Johnston

Hi John,

We first met in San Francisco back in August 2000. We dined into the early hours on numerous occasions, chatting extensively about a subject that had shaped our respective lives for so many years.

I learned so much from you; principally that stuttering is holistic in nature – an interactive system involving the entire person. Those conversations, together with subsequent discussions, helped to change the course of my life.

We have kept in regular touch over the years, spending time in each other’s company on three different continents.

John, you have worked selflessly for many decades to help those within the stuttering community. I, and many people around the world, owe you an immense debt of gratitude.

I am privileged to consider you a close personal friend.

Kindest regards

Alan Badmington

[…] was influenced in different ways by John Harrison and Alan Badmington, who both were featured on my “men who stutter” […]

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