Views And Reviews

The luxury of fluency

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 20 August 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:547
  1. R X A Petrie

    Fluent speech is something that most people take for granted. I have a stammer and therefore my thoughts do not effortlessly turn into spoken words. I would give anything in the world for fluent speech. The current literature concludes that the cause of stammering is unknown and that no treatment is reliably effective. I have certainly tried several methods without success and at present I have given up trying.

    Stammering is by no means a modern phenomenon. Galen recommended that the tongues of stammerers “be soundly cauterised” and Moses, Erasmus, Charles I, George VI, and Darwin were all stammerers. Through history stammering has had a low profile. The subject is almost always avoided. Non-stammerers are embarrassed listeners, feel helpless, and do not know what to say or do. Stammerers either do not want to talk about the problem or are unable to speak eloquently enough to make themselves heard or understood. Hence the reason I am writing this article. In print no one can ignore me, turn away, interrupt, or talk on top.

    Most people consider stammering to be a neurotic affliction, which is inconvenient and embarrassing to the listener. Few people, however, realise the true nature of the stammer. It is a monstrous and unpredictable parasite. It tries its best to thwart all of life's opportunities, to destroy my self esteem, and prevent me from …

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