My War Against Stuttering

Unless you are a stutterer or have significant speech anxiety at times, this section of my website will not likely interest you.

From puberty to around age forty, I was a suffering stutterer.  Unless you knew me then, you haven’t known me as a stutterer.  In fact, by age thirty, I had become very good at hiding it from most..  The irony is that pre-teens, I spoke exceptionally well, and, after finding ways to hide it, I, once again, became viewed as an excellent speaker, but, between those extremes, my life as a stutterer was a form of “Hell”.  Pre-puberty, I had received the highest grades in my prep school class for several, consecutive years for “public speaking”, which then comprised 20% of the English grade.   Each Friday was devoted to having selected classmates give five minute “talks”, sometimes prepared and sometimes spontaneous, after which the teacher and the class critiqued the speaker.  It was a wonderful way to teach kids to become comfortable addressing groups.  Anyway, my father, a lawyer, took great interest in my “talks”, and, for all prepared talks, I wrote and practiced them assiduously with him, and, no surprise, I invariably received a near perfect grade for each talk.  After several years of such success, speech-tragedy befell me.

In my early teens, in English class, I was asked to read aloud from a text.  For reasons still unknown, I stumbled and stuttered on a word.  The entire class laughed.  My face reddened, and I proceeded to stutter on the next word, and then the next. The class dissolved into a paroxysm of laughter.  My mouth froze; I blocked; I could only puff air and spit; I stared haplessly at the teacher, who then called on another student to read.  And so my stuttering-odyssey had launched itself for reasons I have yet to fathom.

From that day forward, in pressure situations, I stuttered.  Most commonly, it was when trying to say someone’s name (a word for which there was no substitute) or to read aloud from any text.  Words beginning with “R’s, “W’s” and “L’s” were the most daunting.  My stuttering grew and grew AND GREW.  When I stuttered, my head spun and my body sweat; I thought about it 24/7; I began to contract migraine headaches, which still plague me, although much less now.  My stuttering steadily increased.

My stuttering-nadir occurred in my mid-twenties, not long after passing the Bar Exam. I was assigned a pro bono criminal case.  My client had been caught in the act of an armed robbery.  By the time that I arrived in Court in to attempt to try the case, I could think of nothing, absolutely nothing, save, “How will I avoid stuttering?”  Of course, I didn’t avoid it.  I couldn’t say my name or my client’s name, which then snowballed into many other words.  The Judge had to complete my name, my words and sentences.  It was ghastly.  He was kind and sympathetic, although others in the courtroom either froze or laughed at me.  I wanted to die, right then, on the spot; had I known a way, I would have taken it.  My nascent legal career, my very life seemed to be ending – for me, a fledgling attorney with a wife and two sons -- and flat broke.

In those days (the late 1950’s), there were few books, therapists or clinics that dealt with stuttering, and I knew of none, nor was there an Internet, Amazon, Google, iPhones or iPads.  Moreover, I had been raised in Christian Science and had never, ever even been in doctor’s office. In an absolute panic to save my inchoate career and marginal existence, I consulted a psychiatrist, the late Frank S. Caprio, M.D., Ph.D, a sagacious counselor and a prolific author.  I told him that I had just enough money for six sessions.  He didn’t cure me, but he pointed me in the right directions.   My only hope, he admonished, was “self-cure”. Disquietingly, he concluded, “You’ll probably never totally cure your stuttering, but you can get it under control.”  He recommended self-hypnosis, which has become a major part of my life.  I came upon a combination of methods (crutches, if you will) which, combined with mind-control, began to work, slowly but progressively.

I wish that Dr. Caprio were still with us today, because I DID “get it under control”, and no one (save my wife) has been able to detect me stuttering in the past four decades.  I’ve even taught public speaking, informally, even to some politicians.  Oh, yes, I’m still a stutterer; I still have the fears every day, but I know how to handle them.  I know how to mask it, and it’s not chronic now, because the fears abated in direct proportion to the reduction of my memories of incidences of stuttering.  The stuttering snowball can work in both directions: to make one progressively worse or progressively better.  I’m still getting a little better every day!  As my methods enabled me to stutter less and less, I revamped my Mind’s Memory Bank, from one full of stuttering memories to one full of memories and visualizations of fluency and my self-implanted credo:

Speaking fills me with joy and calm. I focus solely on my message; the exact words do not matter. I love to speak.”

So many thousands of times I have whispered such words to myself!!!  They are my therapy; they have become my mantra.  I embrace them and they me.  Negative thoughts and fears cannot enter a mind already full.  I keep my mind full of positive thoughts.  It’s an ongoing challenge, but it can be done.

What were the “crutches” that I discovered?  What exactly did I do to replace the ghastly, crippling stuttering memories with ones of joyous fluency?  The story and my methods are detailed in my 255-page Amazon book, Stuttering & Anxiety Self-Cures. See http://leeglovett.com/books-2/#jp-carousel-1399. I wrote my book in a stream of consciousness and published it in 2016; I didn’t want to confuse my methods with anyone else’s.  After I wrote it, I went online and searched for stuttering-related books and was surprised to find dozens and dozens.  I then read many of them, and I found many worthless, almost insulting books of 20-50 pages, and some good ones, with some helpful ideas, but few were anything like the methods that saved me; so, I changed very little in my book.  It is, as best I know, an original story of one man’s unique approach to the vast wasteland of stuttering and to the verbal leprosy that it can impose.

Being long in the tooth, long retired and no longer needing to make a living, I have made helping stutterers my charity.  I have given my book away to countless stutterers.  I even Skype with many of my readers, no charge, to help them apply my methods, and I am thrilled to be able to say that I AM helping stutterers beat Satan Stuttering.  Some of my reader-stutterers urged me to get on Facebook, a medium that is totally foreign to me, but I joined it too, very recently, solely for the purpose of interfacing with fellow-stutterers.  If you’re interested in Facebook, you’ll find me at:   https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011737520783.

Stuttering became a blessing in my life, because, through my struggle with that debilitating curse, I learned a great deal about controlling my mind. Many of the things that I discovered on my own are increasingly espoused by the medical community, especially by neurologists, in the new science of “neuroplasticity”, which has begun to gain a head of steam circa 2005.  I firmly believe that, in another fifty years, much of medicine will have turned to mind-control as one of the principal therapeutic “medicines” for all manner of ailments.  Mind-control can be more than a curing-placebo or a substitute for Nova Caine in the dentist’s chair or an alternative to morphine when it ceases working – all of which it can do and has already accomplished.  Mind-control can give us the lives to which we aspire.

As knives cut both ways, there is no negative that does not have some positive attributes, and vice versa.  Stuttering can be turned on its head; stuttering can be made to work FOR YOU rather than against you.  The methods that I used to defeat Serpent Stuttering are the same methods that I now use to manage boredom, depression, anger, anxiety and even some physical ailments.  They’re in my book,  Find it here: http://leeglovett.com/books-2/#jp-carousel-1399.

Time is limited, and life isn’t forever, but if you have speech problems, and, if what I wrote above makes any sense to you and seems to be worth a try, I will try to help YOU. Read my book; try my methods and then email me at [email protected], and we’ll Skype.

Someday, I may receive more Skype-requests than I can handle, but, so far, I have granted all requests, no charge.  So, join me in the War against Stuttering.  If you do and if you beat it, as expect that you can and will, then I may ask you to help another stutterer, gratis, as I can only handle so many.  This, too, I promise you: There are few feelings more rewarding than hearing a stutterer tell you, “I have been stuttering since age three, some days on every word, but, for the first time in my life, I now feel that I can overcome stuttering.”   Hearing that is a gift worth earning.     : )