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May 11, 2024 50 mins

Despite as much as one percent of the adult population having the condition, science doesn't actually know how stuttering works. The best it's come up with so far: there seems to be an issue between the physical process of speaking and the thought process that underlies it. Find out what science means by this in this classic episode.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi everyone, it's Chuck here. I'm going back in time.
Let's all go back in time together. In fact, this
Saturday for our select episode to Summertime, August fifteenth, twenty seventeen.
And this one is about stuttering, how stuttering works. It
is pretty interesting, actually, so check it out. Welcome to

Stuff You Should Know, a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:33):
Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. There's
Charles W Chuck Bryant, and there's no our guest producer today,
which means it's still Stuff you should Know.

Speaker 1 (00:43):
That's right, the Jerry Free edition.

Speaker 2 (00:46):
Yeah, it feels weird. Eh. She was like, I can't
do this today. I'm going to the mall. She's always
leaving us for the mall.

Speaker 1 (00:56):
I know, that's weird. Ever since we did that mall
episode and she learned it was a thing.

Speaker 2 (01:00):
Right, you know, She's like, this sounds like my kind
of place.

Speaker 1 (01:04):
How are you doing.

Speaker 2 (01:06):
I'm doing pretty good. I'm been wanting to do this
one for a long time. Yeah, And I think I
started to research it and I was like, oh man,
maybe we went on tour or something like that. I
got pulled away from it and never went back to it,
So I'm glad we're doing it finally.

Speaker 1 (01:21):
So stuttering if you're in North America or Australia and
stammering if you're in the UK. Perhaps is that how
it works?

Speaker 2 (01:30):
I don't know. I know that stammering is what they
call it in the UK. Do they call it stuttering
in Australia as well?

Speaker 1 (01:36):
Yeah? This thing I pulled up just said. In general,
it's North America and Australia say stutter. In UK they
say stammer But it's the same thing.

Speaker 2 (01:46):
Right, it's basically I think the way that they get
around that is calling it disfluency. No one calls it that,
the scientists do.

Speaker 1 (01:57):
I never heard that word.

Speaker 2 (01:58):
Sure, disfluence, So I think that's actually the clinical name
for what we call startering or stammering, depending on where
you are.

Speaker 1 (02:07):
Yeah, And wasn't that Colin Firth movie called The Disfluent
Prince Who Would Be King?

Speaker 2 (02:13):
Yep? I think that was the working title what they
call it, The King's Speech?

Speaker 1 (02:20):
Yeah, pretty good movie. That was cute, cute it was.

Speaker 2 (02:25):
Anytime you get Jeffrey right in there in an inspirational role,
it's gonna be a cute movie. No, not Jeffrey right,
Jeffrey Rush Yeah, I agreed. Jeffrey Wright always plays like
the super smart, like kind of like a deep state guy.

Speaker 1 (02:40):
Jeffrey Wright. He was Baskeocht right, I'm not thinking of
the right guy.

Speaker 2 (02:45):
Did he play basket Yacht?

Speaker 1 (02:47):
I think so.

Speaker 2 (02:48):
I don't think so in the movie Baskeocht.

Speaker 1 (02:50):
Yeah. Isn't Jeffrey Wright.

Speaker 2 (02:52):
I don't think so.

Speaker 1 (02:53):
It's Jeffrey Wright.

Speaker 2 (02:54):
Jeffrey Wright has been in tons of stuff. Just look
him up. You'll be like, oh, that's Jeffrey right.

Speaker 1 (03:00):
Okay, this is.

Speaker 2 (03:02):
Going terribly already. This is basically like the podcast equivalent
of stuttering, because Chuck stuttering, also known as stammering better
known as disfluency, is an interrupted flow of speech. Okay,
but what when it starts to qualify for what we

would call like stuttering or stammering, it is it's really noticeable.
It's it has an interrupting effect, typically on the conversation
or the communication that's meant to be going on, the
speaking that's going on that's on the far end of
the spectrum, on the on the other end of the spectrum.

Apparently just about everybody engages in disfluent speech. I'm particularly
guilty because I say a lot, and that's a form
of disfluency. And disfluency Chuck comes from the idea that
that when you speak fluently, you're speaking in a flowing
manner that is easy to follow typically and is uninterrupted.

But when you start adding things like or pauses or
that kind of thing like that, that's disfluency. And again,
disfluency is a normal part of communication if it occurs
about less than ten percent of the time. After that
you start to get into the stuttering slash stammering spectrum

or side of the disfluent spectrum.

Speaker 1 (04:33):
Yeah, and one thing I learned, You know, you and
I both QA quality assure each episode, which means it's
a little behind the curtain peak. But Jerry will send
them back to us and you listen to it once
and then give her any like edit notes or whatever
and thoughts, and then I will listen to it and

generally I have no edit notes.

Speaker 2 (05:00):
Found that I know we're both gonna be so self
conscious about that.

Speaker 1 (05:03):
Well, that's where I was getting to though. I found
early on when listening to these episodes of ourselves that
it's it doesn't pay to focus on dysfluency in our
own language because it can.

Speaker 2 (05:16):
Drive you nuts, it really can.

Speaker 1 (05:18):
And so we have a conversational podcast, so we're not
trying to you know, we're not Churchill or Henry or
was it Henry the six now.

Speaker 2 (05:31):
Yeah it was, I don't remember. Just Calin Firth, how
about that.

Speaker 1 (05:38):
Yeah, we're not Colin Firth addressing the country on the airwaves,
where it was very important that he come across as
you know, a certain had a certain fluency. But when
it comes to stuff like this, I think people are
used to the fact, like occasionally we'll get emails that
go you go to say like an am a lot right, and.

Speaker 2 (05:59):
We're just like response, is better luck finding a different podcast?

Speaker 1 (06:03):
Yeah this is not for you. No, So anyway, I
learned to not drive myself crazy with that stuff. No.

Speaker 2 (06:09):
But it's funny you bring that up because I was
just yesterday listening to the Stockholm Syndrome episode for stuff
you should know selects right, and I must have said
like five times over the span of ten words.

Speaker 1 (06:24):
You can't even listen to that, But.

Speaker 2 (06:27):
Even I noticed it. I normally have I'm pretty good
about tuning it out, but even I noticed at that time,
and it really kind of raises this issue that the
whole thing about starting or stammering is not that it's
a it's a disorder or disease, or the sign of

an unintelligent person, or that the person can't think of
what they mean to say. It's absolutely none of those things.
It is strictly an interruption in what we would consider
normal communication, and so attention is drawn to it, and
it turns out that that just makes the problem worse
and worse, so it it turns into this vicious cycle

to where but that's all that, That's all it is.
That's it, that's really it. And I mean, like there's
there's different theories about what's behind it or what could
make it worse and what could possibly make it better,
but really all it is is just interrupted communication between
two people. Because it's not like the person who's who's
stuttering stutters in their head, like it's strictly when they're

speaking and communicating with other people. So it's it's pretty
it's a unique. It's a unique condition.

Speaker 1 (07:41):
Yeah, and they're they're generally three ways in which that
flow can be interrupted. One is repetition. So if you
say the first few like the beginning of a word,
if you repeat it a few times in a row
and then say the word, another would be prolongation. So
if the word is like you would, you would roll

that l out by itself for a long time, and
then the last would be an abnormal stoppage, which is
just no sound at all coming out. Yeah, block, yeah,
a complete block. Have you you know anyone with a
severe stutter?

Speaker 2 (08:18):
Sure? Yeah, I've known people with stutters before.

Speaker 1 (08:21):
Yeah, I know somebody with a very severe stutter. And
it's always interesting because I think, and we'll get to
like what you should and shouldn't do as a participant
in a conversation with someone who stutters. But before I
read this, I knew that just as a courtesy, what
you probably shouldn't do, which is correct, is try and

complete someone's sentence for them, even though that urge is there.
You know, it's just a natural instinct because people do that,
you know, when speaking all the time if someone can't
think of a word or something. But like you said,
that's not what's going on.

Speaker 2 (08:55):
No, no, And I mean that, And I think that
urge also comes from a a good place typically like
you're not You're not saying like, uh, pitch is the
word stupid. That's not what you're saying when you when
you when you finish their sentence, you're helping them along, right,
to keep the conversation on track, right, But what you're

also doing is saying you're not communicating effectively. I'm jumping
in and taking over on your behalf. Just sit there
and be quiet. So, yeah, we'll talk more about what
to do or what to what not to do when
you're in a conversation with somebody with a stutter and I.

Speaker 1 (09:34):
Don't know what you mean. You're trying, you're trying to help.
You're not trying to like be a jerk. Yeah, but
it's it's not a help.

Speaker 2 (09:40):
No, it's not.

Speaker 1 (09:41):
But I imagine they also understand to a certain degree.

Speaker 2 (09:44):
Too well, probably just from being exposed to it so much, Yeah,
for so.

Speaker 1 (09:48):
Long, and some people feel, you know, like with anything
like this, some people might be used to it and
have been like, well, you know, that's how I talk.
I've tried to uh correct it, and I've kind of
learned to live with it, and people might still feel
really bad about it.

Speaker 2 (10:02):
Yeah, I read a a I guess an essay a
blog post basically by a guy named man I can't
find it anywhere, great great blog posts where he said
I recognize and accept my stutter, and it was on

say dot org. His name is Danny Litwack l I
t w A c K Litwack. Maybe I embrace and
accept my stutter. It's great. He talks about his his
experience with growing up with a stutter his whole life
and just what a negative impact it had on him
for a very long time. And I saw this elsewhere.
But the first step toward either either getting past your

stutter or just getting over the fact that you have
a stutter, is accepting that you have a stutter. And
that's a that's from what I can gather, a really
big first step, because I think people recognize that they
have a stutter to themselves, but there's also are they
take measures to protect against sharing that with other people.

So I read another story about another person who grew
up with a stutter and when they got to I
think college or something. On the first day of this
one class, everybody went around and said where they were from,
and this person said that they forgot where they were from,
rather than having to say Wilmington, Delaware because of the
W and the D. So instead they told the class

they forgot where they were they were born and grew.

Speaker 1 (11:37):
Up because in that case there were certain triggers.

Speaker 2 (11:41):
Yeah, the W and the D, the W and Wilmington
and the D in Delaware. So there's like a lot
of obfuscation that people with stutters engage in. People with
stutters are not to be trusted in other words, but
they have to they have to basically just take steps
to make it seem like they don't have a stutter.
And I think what this guy Danny Litwack was saying.

And then, like I said, I saw elsewhere people saying,
like I have a stutter, like this is how I talk.
You're gonna have to like either just walk away during
the conversation or just let me finish on my own time.
But this is me and this is how I talk,
and I'm accepting it or learning to and you're gonna
have to as well. And that's the first step, as

I understand it. Once you're an adult, I should say.

Speaker 1 (12:25):
I think there are so many things in life where
that's the case. Oh yeah, man, Instead of like at
a certain point at a certain age, you, I think,
or at least I got to a point where like, well,
I can really continue to work to try and change
the thing, or I can just accept that this is
kind of who I am, right and be happy.

Speaker 2 (12:44):
Yeah, don't worry, be happy now.

Speaker 1 (12:47):
So don't ever strive to be better people. Just accept
how messed up you are.

Speaker 2 (12:52):
Right, and force everyone else around you to accept it.

Speaker 1 (12:55):
Should we take a little break here, All right, We'll
take a break and we'll come back and get into
of the stats, and house stutters can develop right after this,

all right, so we're back. I promise stats. Yeah, the stats,
you shall receive one percent roughly of adults in the
world stutter. Yeah, but that is not one percent of children,
because many times have in fact, about seventy five percent
of the time, well five percent of children stutter, and

about seventy five percent of time they will lose that
disfluence as they grow older, right, leaving that at a
one percent number as adults.

Speaker 2 (14:02):
Yeah, and so in the US there's that means there's
about three million or so, maybe three and a half
million people adults that stutter. Right, More women, is it?
More women, and more men and more men more men,
and it's like four to five in childhood and then

it goes to like three or four in adulthood. So
by far, men stutter more than women. And although in
strangely boys tend to naturally lose their stutter if they're
going to lose their stutter in childhood more than girls.

Speaker 1 (14:39):
Yeah, and I don't think they found any rhyme or
reason to that at all.

Speaker 2 (14:42):
Right, No, man, there's there's like a lot of lack
of understanding as far as stuttering goes scientifically socially, there's
just we just don't know that much about it, which
is surprising because apparently as far back as Moses, people
have been stuttering on record.

Speaker 1 (15:02):
We'll tell that story later. Oh, okay, about sixty There
could be a genetic basis because about sixty percent of
people who stutter have a family member who stutters.

Speaker 2 (15:12):
Yeah, and I also saw that among monozygotic also known
as identical twins, if one twin stutters, there's a ninety
percent chance that the other one does as well. Oh interesting,
But for die zygotic, like fraternal twins, there's only a
twenty percent chance. So there's clearly a genetic basis to stuttering.

Speaker 1 (15:32):
Somehow, right, But it's also one of those things where
it can be genetic, doesn't have to be. Sometimes if
you like suffer a head trauma, you might develop a stutter. Right.
Sometimes it's developmental. Sometimes it could be obviously with something
like Parkinson's disease, that could be a symptom. But those

are to me, I think, probably different kinds of stuttering,
but still shuttering.

Speaker 2 (15:59):
Right. So there's basically two main categories. Developmental, which is
by far the more the one that accounts for the
most cases of stuttering. Yeah, and then the others acquired,
like you said, say from like Parkinson's or they put
you on a prescription that like suddenly is making you stutter.
There's also psychogenic, which is supposedly an emotional trauma can

give you a stutter. I don't know if that's just
leftover lore, because apparently they used to think all stutters
were the result of some psychology.

Speaker 1 (16:32):
Yeah, and they.

Speaker 2 (16:34):
Just say, well, no, it's possible, or some people have
it and just haven't figured out that it's not the
case at all, or if there really is a small
section of people who do have psychogenic stutters, but all
of those would fall under acquired and then the other
one is developmental boy.

Speaker 1 (16:50):
How about that guy that took mushrooms and quit stuttering? Yeah,
so interesting.

Speaker 2 (16:55):
I saw a Ted talk at his once.

Speaker 1 (16:56):

Speaker 2 (16:57):
Yeah, he's like all about mushroom saving the world.

Speaker 1 (17:01):
Paul's dammit.

Speaker 2 (17:03):

Speaker 1 (17:03):
Yeah. He he leads off our article on how stuff
works and he had a severe stutter. Was very affected
by it, kind of Withdrew socially. Went camping one time,
took a bunch of psychedelic mushrooms and climbed a tree,
got up there, decided he could not climb down, and

then the storm came in and got really intense, and
he he said he sort of felt one with the world,
which sounds about right. And eventually the storm passed. He
came down and while he was up there during this
intense experience, he was like, I will not stutter anymore,
and he just kept saying that. Came down and he
had lost his stutter.

Speaker 2 (17:45):
Yeah, and apparently he didn't relapse, which is pretty unusual,
I think.

Speaker 1 (17:50):
So he started studying mushrooms for a living.

Speaker 2 (17:52):
Yeah, he became a mycologist. Yeah, man, and I gotta
I've said this before, I'll say it again. One of
the best articles I've ever read my life was called
blood Spore, Yeah, and I think it was in Harper's
and it was about a murder in the world of mycologists.
It was just so interesting.

Speaker 1 (18:11):
Blood Spore coming soon to a theaternew I hope so
you should write the script.

Speaker 2 (18:16):
Yeah. So Stamids was remarkably lucky in that he just
basically decided not to stutter anymore and stop stuttering. Apparently
the fact that he didn't relapse is probably what's most remarkable,
because I think relapsing among stuttering treatments is actually pretty common.

Oh yeah, yeah, but again, this is once you get
out of childhood. It's fairly common to have to develop
a stutter as you're a child, as you're learning to talk,
and then it's equally common to lose that that stutter
as you age, usually within eighteen months of developing the
onset of the stutter. But then as you acquire this

or develop this stutter as you get older, it apparently
becomes more and more set in. And that seems to
be because of the plasticity of your brain when you're
a kid.

Speaker 1 (19:15):

Speaker 2 (19:16):
Start, it's almost like, from what I can gather, it's
like if you have a stutter past a certain point,
it almost gets locked into your brain as your neural
pathways solidify and cement. Yeah, like you learned to have
a stutter after a while.

Speaker 1 (19:36):
Yeah, And I think they say to wait. I think
they wait like three months before they even start looking
into it, because that's how fleeting a stutter can be
when you're a little kid. Right after three months, they'll say,
all right, maybe we should start looking into this.

Speaker 2 (19:53):
Right, you would want to go to a speech pathologist
to be able to diagnose it. Yeah, And usually what
they're looking for and you take your child who's developed
a stutter to a speech pathologist is how pronounced it is.
There's a guy in I think the late nineties named
Barry Guitar. He sounds like he played, you know, guitar

for the band Boston.

Speaker 1 (20:21):
He knows all the chords. No, wait, that's guitar George.

Speaker 2 (20:23):
Right, Sorry, what's that from?

Speaker 1 (20:26):

Speaker 2 (20:26):
Come on, guitar George? Is that a Ray Stevens song?

Speaker 1 (20:30):
No, it's from Dire Straits Sultan's of Swing.

Speaker 2 (20:33):
Oh gotcha. That's a good song. Yeah, it is a
good song. I love it so very Guitar came with
five levels of stuttering development. And I already referenced the
first I know his name's all that. I already referenced
the first level, which is you you have less than
ten percent of your speech is disfluent. That's that's anybody

walking around like that, right, Yeah, unless you're like the
King of England or something. And then ironically unless you're
that one king who had a stutter. Yeah, and then
it goes on the from there and just gets worse
and worse. But one of the things that's attendant with
these different stages of development of a stutter are like

emotional problems or symptoms like comorbid symptoms along with the stutter.
So there can be things like blinking, like like pursing
your lips, where you're frustrated, where you're angry, where you're fearful,
where you're anxious, in conjunction with stuttering. And so this
is the kind of thing that the speech pathologists will

be looking for to kind of diagnose your kid like, no,
this is just normal kid stuff. Or actually the stutters
developing faster than we'd like it too, so we need
to start treating it now.

Speaker 1 (21:49):
Well, that makes sense because dopamine. We talked a lot
about dopamine on the show The neud Transmitter. If you
have an overabundance of dopamine we talked about in the
Tourette's episode, Right, is that one of the things that
can be comorbid with stuttering because I know too much
dopamine can lead to a stutter as well.

Speaker 2 (22:09):
Yeah, supposedly, so Dopamine controls movement, right, Yeah, and if
you have too much, it makes you have ticks like
Tourette you're.

Speaker 1 (22:18):
Saying, well, it can.

Speaker 2 (22:19):
So I noticed this that Parkinson's and dopamine are I
think they're like Parkinson's has to do with too much dopamine. Yeah,
and Parkinson's is one of the ways that you could
acquire neurogenically a stutter. Yeah, So that makes total sense
that there's something in your brain with dopamine transmission to

where you have maybe too much of it, and so
you're trying to you're having trouble but getting the thoughts
in your head into the movements that it takes to
create the speech.

Speaker 1 (22:57):
Yeah. I mean it's a little clumsy the way the
brain does this. It would be a lot easier if
it was streamlined in one part of the brain, but
there are two distinct parts of the brain that deal
with language processing, and one is the one that processes
it and one articulates it with in a motor skill way.

And when those two things have done brain imaging mapping
and they found that there's some sort of discontinuity between
those two processes going on. Right, Well, there's a stutter.

Speaker 2 (23:27):
That's stuttering, right, so it could be too much dopamine.
That's one thing again, the research into stuttering is so
basic at the moment, it's it's really surprising. What they're
trying to figure out, though, is are you born with
the stutter like you when you're born, You're you're going
to have this problem because your your brain isn't using

dopamine properly or overproducing dopamine, or are you as your
brain's developing, something goes a little off to the side
to the left and your brain has trouble with dopamine
from that point on. So they're trying to figure out
the etiology of it.

Speaker 1 (24:08):
In other words, did you look into this the genes
the four genes?

Speaker 2 (24:13):
Yeah, a little bit.

Speaker 1 (24:15):
Did do you find names for those?

Speaker 2 (24:16):
I did not?

Speaker 1 (24:17):
That isn't either.

Speaker 2 (24:18):
That is how basic the research is right now. Yeah,
they're not even saying what genes they're finding.

Speaker 1 (24:23):
Yeah, apparently they did discover four different genes that are
linked to these proteins. And these proteins are sort of
like they're responsible for what's called cellular trafficking, so they
kind of make sure that the elements of the cell
end up where they need to be within that cell. Right,
And they said that more than one neurological disorder can

be linked to this trafficking process, So I guess it's
related to those proteins in those genes.

Speaker 2 (24:54):
Yeah, but they're like, who knows, Well, just like they've
gotten to the point where they have identified there's something
up with these proteins in the cells and it's linked
to stuttering somehow. Now just give us like ten years
to go figure out how, right, But yeah, they're starting
to realize now there's some sort of genetic basis to

this to stuttering.

Speaker 1 (25:18):
Well, I mean, I think the twin study that says
a lot right there for sure. You know, yep, can
we talk about Moses.

Speaker 2 (25:27):
I think it's high time we talked about Moses. We've
been dancing around the burning bush for a while now.
I can't believe that guy will laugh.

Speaker 1 (25:36):
Well, I was laughing because every time I think of
burning Bush, I think of three Amigos and how funny
that singing Bush was.

Speaker 2 (25:43):
I never saw that one.

Speaker 1 (25:44):
Three Amigos.

Speaker 2 (25:45):
Yeah, I could do the three amigo salute, but I
never saw it.

Speaker 1 (25:50):
Oh man, that's a classic. Really yeah?

Speaker 2 (25:54):

Speaker 1 (25:55):
Oh sure? Why is that surprising? I don't know.

Speaker 2 (25:59):
I feel like I would have seen it if free
comedic icons.

Speaker 1 (26:03):
You're right, funny movie.

Speaker 2 (26:05):
Oh I know why I never saw because chevy Chase
is in it. Oh, I'm sure, I'm sure.

Speaker 1 (26:09):

Speaker 2 (26:09):
I remember my dad raised me a really dislike chill
That's right, so I probably wasn't allowed to see it.

Speaker 1 (26:15):
That's right.

Speaker 2 (26:15):
You see Fletch, right, I think I stopped watching Fletch
like part way through. My dad had a real influence
on me. And why didn't he like chevy Chase.

Speaker 1 (26:26):
Though, I have no idea you had a bone to pick.

Speaker 2 (26:29):
I guess I think he thought he was a jerk
or something.

Speaker 1 (26:32):
Well he was all right.

Speaker 2 (26:34):
It turns out dad was right, all right.

Speaker 1 (26:37):
So Moses, I know a lot about the Bible, because,
as listeners know, I was raised in the church. But
I didn't know this. I don't remember this story at all.

Speaker 2 (26:48):
Yeah, I hadn't heard it either.

Speaker 1 (26:50):
So apparently Moses uh was a little baby at one point,
and the Pharaoh said was warned, you know that Moses
was was gonna not be his friend when he grew up.
So he said, all right, let me try something out.
I'm going to give this little baby, Moses, a choice
between a bowlful of gold and a bowlful of hot coals.

Speaker 2 (27:11):
That's what you do with babies.

Speaker 1 (27:12):
Jesus the gold, then I'm going to kill him.

Speaker 2 (27:16):
Yeah, typical typical Egyptian stuff.

Speaker 1 (27:19):
Yeah, so of course with a baby, Moses is going
to reach for the gold. And then apparently an angel
intervened Todd Todd the angel and directed little Moses' hand
to the hot coals instead.

Speaker 2 (27:37):
A little gruffly, if you ask Moses.

Speaker 1 (27:39):
Moses grabbed a hot coal put it in his mouth,
and that's how he got to the stutter.

Speaker 2 (27:44):
And he's blamed Todd ever since.

Speaker 1 (27:46):
And here's what I don't get is that Moses went
to God and was like, hey, man, I'm supposed to
lead the people out of Egypt. I have a bad stutter.
Can you you know, can you do something for me
for God?

Speaker 2 (28:01):
And God said no sweat.

Speaker 1 (28:04):
Yeah, he said God, mister ed.

Speaker 2 (28:09):
You didn't know that, yeah, because he was God.

Speaker 1 (28:14):
So God said, yeah, sure I can help you out.
Just have your brother Aaron take the mic.

Speaker 2 (28:21):
Right, And Moses was like, I was more thinking like
you'd perform a miracle on me, but yeah, I probably
could have thought of having Aaron speak for me as well. God,
thanks for that, though.

Speaker 1 (28:32):
I don't know how I missed that story.

Speaker 2 (28:33):
He apparently there's a quote I am heavy of mouth
and heavy of tongue, and I saw some Bible sight
where they were debating whether or not what they were
talking about was a stutter. Apparently, some later Hebraic text
said that Moses had trouble pronouncing th h's thorn sounds
it sounds more like he had a lisp than a stutter.

Who knows. Let's go as stuttering though, because lot of
people do say that Moses had a stutter, but he
over king. Yeah, it's pretty thick. It's I've gotten used
to it, but I remember at first when we first
started doing this, like, man, I should not be speaking
for a living like this is I have a speech impediment,

pure and simple.

Speaker 1 (29:19):
No, it's just everyone now, just thinks, Hey, that's Josh's voice.

Speaker 2 (29:23):
Yes, it's so grating, smooth and silky.

Speaker 1 (29:28):
M hm. Who else in history.

Speaker 2 (29:29):
Josh, let's see the emperor Justinian apparently, or no, I'm
sorry I was wrong. It was Demosthenes. He was a
Greek statesman. He apparently was smart enough to say, who
could help me with a stutter? Oh? How about an actor?

Somebody who speaks broadcasts their voice for a living. So
he hired an actor to help him, and that actor
had him do things like chew on pebbles and try
to talk.

Speaker 1 (30:01):

Speaker 2 (30:02):
Smart, he's He did his speeches while he's walking uphill.
I guess to control his breathing. This is actually pretty
sharp stuff. I think out of all the historical treatments
that we're going to cover, this one might most closely resemble,
aside from the mouthful of pebbles, modern treatment for stuttering.

Speaker 1 (30:23):
Yeah, which is to say speaking exercises.

Speaker 2 (30:27):

Speaker 1 (30:28):
Well, you did say Justinian. I don't know if Justinian
had the stutter, but his at the very least his physician,
Atis of Amita, was one of the first people to say, Hey,
maybe that the frenulum, you know, that little flap of
skin under your tongue right the connector to the bottom
of your mouth. He was the first one that said,

why don't we start slicing that thing up and just
the tongue in general. Over the years there have been
all kinds of surgeon that tried variations of slicing the
friend or cutting down of the tongue itself.

Speaker 2 (31:02):
Now, I could probably use that one by HD Chiguine chegouine.
I'm sure that's how you say it the second way. Yeah,
he basically said, stuttering as a result of an oversized tongue,
which I have. Let's just slice and dice a little
off the sides. But no, of course it didn't work.
It's just horrific apparently. Though at the same time there

were these surgeons who get all the press because their
stuff is so horrific. But there are also other people
who were kind of on the right track a little
more like Moses Mendelssohn in the eighteenth century. He thought
that there were too many ideas or thoughts that were
flowing at once, and that it was basically it was

blocking speech. There's too much trying to get out, basically
like the three Stooges model of stuttering. Remember they're all
trying to go through the door.

Speaker 1 (31:57):
Yeah yeah, yeah, so you've got too much to say
and you want to just get it right. Interesting, that
makes a little sense.

Speaker 2 (32:04):
Erasmus Darwin. He said that it was bashfulness, emotions like
bashfulness that messed up the process of speaking, right, okay,
definitely onto something there as well. And then a psychologist
named Sandow said that it was brought on by either
a dread of speaking or an over eagerness to speak,

kind of like what Moses Mendelssohn was saying in the
latter example.

Speaker 1 (32:30):
Can they brought out by two completely opposite things?

Speaker 2 (32:33):
Yeah, yeah, So a lot of this actually is kind
of in step with our current thought about stuttering. And
so either that means that these guys in the eighteenth
century were prescient, or our understanding of stuttering is stuck
in the eighteenth century, right, I'm very curious to know
which one it is.

Speaker 1 (32:54):
Shall we take a break? Yeah, all right, We're going
to come back after this final break and talk about
therapies that don't involve cutting your tongue apart. All right. So,

now we're in the modern days and we're not taking
scalpels to the frenulum any longer because they've realized that
it's not a physical affliction of the tongue. It's somewhere
inside the brain most likely. Yeah, and they have a
lot of recommendations for when a child starts to stutter

in it and it sticks. And you found some other
tips too, which are great for parents, and kind of
one of the main ones is is give your kid
plenty of room to talk, plenty of time to talk,
make sure they express themselves fully, because one of the
side effects of having a stutter is your child may

just end up retreating and being super quiet.

Speaker 2 (34:20):
Yeah. I got from this these tips for parents that
there's kind of this maybe not fully spoken idea that
you can actually cement your child's stutter if you handle
it poorly. Yeah, when they start to develop it, which

knowing that just makes you even more tense about dealing
with it correctly, I guess, which could make the whole
process even even harder. But there are some pretty brainless
things to do. This one almost killed me when I
saw it. Chuck the site I think Kid's Health is
where I got this one, but it said maintain natural

eye contact with your child. Try not to look away
or show signs of being upset. Yeah, get like just
break the arrow off in my heart.

Speaker 1 (35:12):
Yeah, that's pretty sad.

Speaker 2 (35:14):
Like, don't look away and disgust when your child is stuttering,
you monster, Go look in the mirror and take a
bamboo shoot and put it underneath your fingernail and think
about what you've done.

Speaker 1 (35:27):
Another good one is and this feels like something that
would be easy to do because it seems well intentioned
to say, like, you know, slow down, son, take your time,
taking your breath. They say to not do that, yeah,
because you know, might make things worse.

Speaker 2 (35:44):
Yeah, because what you're doing then is you're drawing attention
to the idea that your child is not speaking correctly
and rather than just apparently letting them communicate at their
own pace. Right. Yeah, there's also seems to be a
suggestion that the child has learned the child, your kid
has learned to speak to stutter because they're trying to

get too much out at once. Yeah, and they may
have picked that up from you if you have like
a rush rush rush pace in your household. Yeah, one
of the things that they suggest is it just kind
of slow things down at home. And in addition to
like like schedule wise, and like just taking time and
just like letting everybody breathe, maybe a little more than you.

Guys are also speaking more slowly, not just to your kid,
but also to other people when your kid's around. Yeah,
speaking slowly, setting an example. It's called modeling your own
speech so that your kid feels like they don't have
to blurt everything out at once to get their point across.
They they're going to be heard no matter how long

it takes. You're going to sit there and just listen
to them speak.

Speaker 1 (36:56):
Yeah, and like really listen. Another thing that seems like
a no brainer, but really just try and focus on
what they're saying and not the fact that they're stuttering
those words out. But you know, when your kid tells
you a story about something that happened at school, right,
don't concentrate or even bring attention to the fact that
it's being said with a stutter, but just take take

in their story and if it takes a little while longer,
then just respond accordingly.

Speaker 2 (37:22):
Yeah, And in that same vein, like, don't tell your
kid to stop and start over when they start stuttering. Yeah,
Like like they have to get the sentence just perfect
or else you're not going to hear them out, and
don't tell them to think before speaking. That's not helping
anything at all.

Speaker 1 (37:38):
Be honest. Yeah, like, don't try and mask it and
say that, well, you don't have a stutter, like this
is just you know, you're just in a hurry or
something like. They just say to be really honest and say,
you know what, you have a stutter and it's a
disfluence and it's nothing to worry about and if you'd like,

maybe we can talk to someone that can do some
exercises with you. And you know, just like all this
sounds like no brainer, not being a monster parent.

Speaker 2 (38:10):
Yeah, but again some of it does like telling your
kid like, okay, slow down, take a breath. Now, what
are you saying? Like you think you're helping your kid,
you're not so so not all some of it is monstrosity.
Others is just like this is this is what people
would naturally do, but it's and it seems intuitive, but

you're wrong. Your intuition is dead wrong. Just let your
kid talk and listen to what they're saying, not how
they're saying it. Right, and apparently this is this is
a good These are good, This is good advice. Wow,
it took me a second to get out. Thank you, though,
Chuck for patiently hearing it. Then sure, this is good
advice to helping your kid just naturally shed the stutter,

the developmental stutter. We should say, all of this we've
been talking about is is dealing with a developmental stutter,
although a lot of it just applies to people with
with adult stutters out in the real world as well.
Like you can you can take just about all of
this and apply it to a business conversation if you

have a coworker who has a stutter, like, don't look
away in disgust. There's there's good advice right there all
throughout your life when you're when you're watching or listening
to somebody with the stutter.

Speaker 1 (39:26):
Yeah, I mean maybe don't do that at all, and like, yeah,
you know, yeah, life advice.

Speaker 2 (39:33):
But it's it's a good point is if you're sitting
there and you're and you don't look like you're hurrying
somebody with the stutter along, You're just engage, You're you're
into the conversation no matter how long it takes. I
can't imagine how much that must help. And one thing
that we didn't really, I think point out that that
bears pointing out is that people who stutter do not

necessarily stutter in this same frequency throughout like their day.

Speaker 1 (40:03):

Speaker 2 (40:03):
Yeah, there's definitely situations that are that are going to
make the stutter way more pronounced. They're almost exclusively associated
with higher anxiety situations. I think the National Stuttering Association
says that the number one situation where a stutter is
going to be about as bad as it gets is

during a job interview. And so employers, please don't think
that this is how this person talks. This is probably
as bad as their stutter gets. However, they're stuttering in
the in the job interview. So if they're say at
home and they're just talking to their wife or their
kid or something, this stutter's probably going to be far

less pronounced than it would be if they were having
to give a speech at their friend's wedding, you know.

Speaker 1 (40:52):
Yeah, And I found that with this person, Emily, and
I know that it's it can vary a lot within
a conversation. It's a very severe stutter. And then they
will say like a couple of sentences straight through with nothing,
and then I think, oh man, ok, it catches me

off guard because I'm so used to the stutter, and
I think, well, you know, that's super interesting to me.
You just like blurted out a couple of two or
three long sentences with zero stutter or stammer on the
same thing.

Speaker 2 (41:29):
I know, but they're fun to say together, aren't they
They are?

Speaker 1 (41:33):
I don't know, just find it really fascinating. You know,
speech pathology can come a long way. I know that
there are Well, it's funny. I looked online about curing stuttering,
and of course there is no like patented cure. But
Tony Robbins after listening to our or recording our motivational
speaker thing, I saw a video. I didn't watch it.

I just saw the title. It said Tony Robbins cure's
a man of a stutter in seven minutes.

Speaker 2 (42:00):
So I was like, oh, come on, Yeah, yeah, I
didn't see anything that said stutter stuttering cures. There's basically none.

Speaker 1 (42:09):
Yeah, I did not look into I didn't have time
to look into this new device though, did you.

Speaker 2 (42:15):
Uh, yeah, a little bit. It seems pretty untested as
far as real world application goes, but it makes sense intuitively,
and apparently it does help in a clinical setting.

Speaker 1 (42:26):
So basically it's like an ear like a hearing aid, right,
but it changes the person who's speaking's voice and a
little bit does it replay it? Yeah, out loud for everybody.

Speaker 2 (42:38):
No, just for the person in their ear right. Because
the one of the ways that somebody who stutters will
be able to talk perfectly well is speaking in unison
or singing. Oh okay, so like you, you can be
sitting there talking to somebody just one on one, and
your stutter could be quite severe. But then if you
and the person agree to sing together, you may not

stutter at all the whole time you're singing. And I
have no one has any idea why that's the case.
They just know. And this device is based on that
that when we're talking in unison, or someone who has
a stutter's talking in unison with somebody else, their stutter
tends to go away. So what this does is it
creates an echo. There's a bit of a lag with

their own voice, so they feel like they're talking in unice.

Speaker 1 (43:23):
With themselves, and.

Speaker 2 (43:24):
So it helps the stutter again, at least in a
clinical setting. I don't know if it would just be
too distracting in a conversation or what. But I got
the impression that they haven't tested it fully or proven
it fully outside of the lab.

Speaker 1 (43:38):
Well, the singing makes sense because remember mel Tillis, the
name sounds familiar. He was a country singer who had
a really pronounced stutter, kind of around like the fifties,
sixties and seventies. Seventies is when he was biggest. But yeah,
but you know he was on like Hehaw and stuff,
randall aupry Bird and then has has had a tough

stutter when he was talking to the audience and that's
what he was known for. Oh yeah, yeah, it was
like you know, obviously wouldn't act, but.

Speaker 2 (44:11):
It was his stick.

Speaker 1 (44:13):

Speaker 2 (44:14):
Speaking of so another famous stutter chuck, are we there?
Yeah yeah, Porky Pig. Yeah yeah, so I was I
was looking up Porky Pig, right, because you know, that's
an unusual choice to have a cartoon character who stutters
U And it turns out that Porky Pig has a
stutter because the guy who originally did Porky Pig, Joe Doherty,

had a stutter in real life. Oh really yeah pretty sweet? Huh?
Pretty heartwarming? Well wait there's more. Yeah, he did Porky
Pick for the first two years, and then they fired
him because he kept missing the cues because of his stutter,
and they brought in a guy who didn't have a
starter to do Porky Pig from that point on.

Speaker 1 (44:58):
But he did it with a stutter, Yeah, because it
was established right, Well, that's creddy and that's sad. That
is sad. Yeah, except Porky Pig's trick was to go
to a different word.

Speaker 2 (45:08):
Yeah, which is a fairly common technique though.

Speaker 1 (45:11):
Yeah, I imagine. So yeah, like if you get hung
up on something, just say something else that means the
same thing.

Speaker 2 (45:17):
Yeah, that's a good one. Or I think people will say, oh,
I can't remember and just act like they can't remember
the word when they know full well what word they're
going for. They just can't they can't say it, so
they just pretend like they couldn't or they forgot what
they were talking about.

Speaker 1 (45:34):
Should we name off some of these other famous stutters,
because I think if you're an adult stutter, you probably
know these people. Sure you may have looked it up
to feel a kinship, but maybe if you're a little
kid out there, it might make you feel better to
know that Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones was a stutter, yeah,

big time. Emily Blunt, Yep, she's terrific. Samuel Jackson surprising
right there. Yeah, because the F bombs flow from his mouth.
He was born with that talent. Who else from pulp fiction,
Harvey Kayitel.

Speaker 2 (46:14):
Yeah, I can't see Harvey Kytel stuttering.

Speaker 1 (46:18):
No, And I guess all of these people just went
through speech therapy. Huh.

Speaker 2 (46:23):
I would guess so, or else they all took.

Speaker 1 (46:25):
Mushrooms because it doesn't say whether or not they were
like stuttered as a child or when they overcame it.
But Nicole Kidman, Albert Einstein, Oh really, Carly Simon, and.

Speaker 2 (46:39):
You said Winston Churchill earlier too, he had a stutter
as well.

Speaker 1 (46:42):
Yeah, Bruce Willis.

Speaker 2 (46:45):
Yeah, that's kysing too. Huh. Shack I could see. I
think I've actually seen Shack stutter before on TV.

Speaker 1 (46:53):
Really see Bill Walton, Tiger Woods, Charles Darwin, Jane Seymour,
doctor Quinn herself. Yeah, Joe Biden, who will hopefully run
for president, right, you became his stutter?

Speaker 2 (47:08):
Yeah, well all of them did, which is great. But
at the same time, there are people out there who
have accepted that they have a stutter. They probably spend
a lot of time and money trying to get rid
of it and it hasn't gone anywhere, so they've kind
of embraced it. So I mean, if you've gotten rid
of your stutter and you've overcome it, that's great. But
if you've also embraced it, good for you as well.

Speaker 1 (47:30):
Oh boy, how about this one? You want to talk
about overcoming a stutter Kendrick Lamar?

Speaker 2 (47:35):
Oh yeah, wow.

Speaker 1 (47:35):
If you can overcome a stutter and then become Kendrick Lamar, right,
then that should be a shining example people that you
can do anything.

Speaker 2 (47:43):
Yeah, or if you embrace your stutter, good for you
as well.

Speaker 1 (47:48):
Agreed, because you could be Mel Tillis, who was the
Kendrick Lamar of country music, or Porky Pig, the Kendrick
Lamar of cartoon.

Speaker 2 (47:58):
You got anything else about stuttering?

Speaker 1 (48:00):
I got nothing else. We'd love to hear from people, though, huh.

Speaker 2 (48:02):
Yeah, for sure. Get in touch with us. And in
the meantime, you can find more stuff about stuttering, including
a lot of support and resources for parents all over
the web, and there's things like say dot org and
the National Stuttering Association and all sorts of great resources
if you are looking for some information. And since I said, uh,

it's time for the listener mail, all right, I'll.

Speaker 1 (48:31):
Call this coming to see you in Chicago, but by
this point we'll be I went to see you in Chicago.

Speaker 2 (48:39):
Right and was disappointed.

Speaker 1 (48:42):
Hey, guys, want to write in and say what a
great show I just saw? NOD. I want to write
and say thank you for putting together a really great podcast,
longtime listener and fan and not even mentioning you in
my work bio and I checked it out and you did.

Speaker 2 (48:55):
That's awesome.

Speaker 1 (48:56):
I really appreciate that. Stuff you should know is informative, funny,
and family all at the same time. This was especially
valuable when my fiance and I took his ten year
old brother on a road trip from Chicago to Wisconsin Dell's.
In the car, we listened to a playlist of SYSK
episodes that I put together to suit his ten year
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most importantly, because we were going to Wisconsin, Dell's self
proclaimed water park capital of the World, how water slides
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People love water Slides, man, they love hearing about them,
they love looking at pictures of them.

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It got shared or something. It was so weird. I
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Speaker 2 (49:39):
Water Slides is the top? Huh higher than marijuana?

Speaker 1 (49:44):
Well higher than marijuana.

Speaker 2 (49:47):

Speaker 1 (49:49):
Those episodes really entertained him and introduced him to the
concept of podcasts for the very first time. Thanks for
everything you do, and she said, they're going to see
the fiance and Mara or Mara are going to see
the Chicago show. So I hope you had a good time.

Speaker 2 (50:05):
Yeah, and thank you very much for supporting us in
our live shows. We appreciate that tremendously for sure. If
you want to get in touch with us, like Mara did,
or Mara We're gonna go with Mara, you can send
us all an email, including Noel and including Jerry and
Frank the chair to Stuff podcast at HowStuffWorks dot com,
as always joined us at our home on the web,
Stuff Youshould Know dot com.

Speaker 1 (50:29):
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