Stuttering (also known as stammering) is a speech disorder in which the flow and timing of speech is disrupted.
These speech disruptions may also be accompanied by rapid eye blinks, tremors of the lips or other struggle behaviours of the face or upper body.
The term stuttering is used to cover a wide spectrum of severity, and ranges from individuals with only minor speech barriers to those who find most oral communication impossible.
Stuttering often begins in childhood and can differ in severity in different situations (such as talking on the telephone) depending on the level of anxiety associated with that situation. Research suggests that one in five children in the UK go through a phase of stuttering, and although three in four of those will grow out of it, that’s still half a million people in the UK who stutter.
Other research suggests that 1% of the world is affected by stuttering (approximately 66 million people). Stuttering has affected many famous people, including Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Willis and Gareth Gates.
Signs of stuttering:
- Frequent sound and syllable repetitions
- Excessive repetitions of whole words and phrases
- Struggling with speech
- Avoidance of situations where an individual has to talk
- Facial tension or tightness in the speech muscles
- Vocal tension resulting in rising pitch or loudness
- Silent pauses or blocks in speech
There is no known cause of what causes stammering, or why it is triggered in certain situations. However, some research suggests there could be a genetic link and may result from the way some people’s brains process speech.
Although there is currently no cure for stuttering, there are many methods that can improve stuttering to some extent. It is important to get a diagnosis by an expert first and your GP should be able to refer you to a speech therapist who can offer advice on the issue.
Hypno-analysis (psychotherapy using hypnosis) seeks to ‘unlearn’ behaviours that have been learnt, such as stuttering. Stuttering has a psychological basis and if an individual can speak fluently in some situations, then they can often learn to speak fluently in other situations.
Hypno-analysis aims to access the same state of mind that an individual is in when they are speaking fluently, to help improve their speech in other difficult situations.