Stuttering (logoneurosis) is a speech disorder associated with convulsive-like movements of the articulatory and laryngeal muscles. As a result, a person is forced to linger on a certain sound or group of sounds.
It has been identified that this deviation occurs at the age of 2 to 5-6 years, a period when speech development occurs.
Stuttering can have a neurotic form (as a result of stress and neuroses, it occurs in healthy children) and a neurosis-like form (as a consequence of inherited or acquired diseases of the nervous system).
The causes of stuttering can be predisposing:
- Diseases with encephalopathic consequences,
- Intrauterine or birth injuries,
- Overexertion or exhaustion of the nervous system.
Provoking causes are also distinguished:
- Single psychological trauma (strong fear, fright),
- Accelerated speech (tachylalia),
- Bilingualism in the family.
Symptoms of stuttering include:
- Disturbance of speech breathing (formation of inspiratory-vocal or protoric sounds) and shortened exhalation,
- Convulsive closure of the vocal cords when trying to make a sound and the inability of smooth pronunciation,
- Somatic disturbances (deviation of the protruded tongue, high arch of the palate, curvature of the nasal septum, hypertrophy of the conchae), accompanying movements (movements accompanying speech during stuttering: closing eyes, stomping, clenching fists, shrugging shoulders, shifting from foot to foot, tilting the head, etc.),
- The appearance of fear of pronouncing certain sounds, syllables, or words, avoiding speaking situations, in periods of exacerbation, muteness may be possible.
Stuttering and Psychosomatics
Speech depends on the coordinated work of two groups of muscles. The striopallidal system, which controls timely contraction and relaxation of muscles involved in speech, monitors this. However, emotional overexcitation or trauma can block this regulatory system, leading to tonic spasm or tic (clonic repetition).
As noted, stuttering appears during the period of speech development. It is at this time that changes occur, which are related to the psychological efforts of the child, making the child’s psyche very receptive and sensitive.
In this regard, the wrong external impact on the child’s psyche can lead to an obstacle in the development of such an innate natural property in children as speech.
It has been found that incorrect methods of upbringing lead to stuttering in children who have visual, oral, or anal vectors of development.
Psychological Causes of Stuttering in Children with Different Development Vectors
For example, if a child with an oral vector of development (talkative) in childhood has good listeners in the face of their parents, when he can think by speaking, then he can grow up to be an outstanding orator (teacher, etc.).
Such a child thinks aloud, and since children constantly think about everything they see around them, such a child constantly talks non-stop. He likes it when he is listened to, so sometimes he starts making up tall tales.
But often parents cannot bear this and start making their demands. And if the child also likes to embellish his stories, he is often slapped on the lips (“so that he does not lie anymore”).
For an oral child, such a blow to the lips is a strong shock and trauma. His nature requires speaking, but there is an obstacle in the form of parental punishments. If such a situation is repeated often, then such a child begins to stutter, and his speech begins to be distorted (lisping, slurring, whistling, etc.).
It is known that a child with an anal vector of development (slow) is characterized by such traits as: slow but thorough learning (both in everyday life and in other actions), questioning until they understand, indecisiveness, obedience, etc. He likes to finish things to the end.
At the same time, the child-anal enjoys recognition of his achievements and deserved praise from parents, so he likes to study and please his parents (behavior, order in the room, studies).
If such a child receives the necessary conditions for development, he can grow up to be a very literate specialist, a professional in his field, or an outstanding scientist.
However, if parents constantly rush such a child, nag, interrupt (he speaks slowly), do not let him finish speaking, then he begins to have a speech disorder – stuttering.
The stuttering of an anal child is characterized by difficulties in starting a narrative, interruptions or long pauses while speaking, and also an inability to speak in complex situations or in front of an unfamiliar or large audience.
Psychologists note that a child with a visual vector of development is the most impressionable and sensitive, and emotions are experienced by him with maximum intensity.
Normal conditions of development (a strong emotional connection with the mother, which gives a sense of protection and security) allow this timid child to grow up fearless and compassionate, capable of all-encompassing love for people. Therefore, such children often become healthcare workers, social workers, cultural workers, or engage in charity.
The emotionality and receptivity of a visual child contribute to the fact that the fright or strong emotional stress received in childhood leads to a disturbance of his speech.
The stuttering of such a child is characterized by incoherence, as if he is overwhelmed by emotions that do not allow him to pronounce words normally.
Psychosomatic Factors and Causes of Stuttering
In psychology, such factors for the appearance of stuttering are distinguished:
- Hysterical: a sharp change in conditions (the child was pampered in the family, went to kindergarten, and there the child is like everyone else);
- Neurasthenic: parents constantly belittle the child’s achievements and him, comparing with other children (the child’s psyche cannot withstand);
- Psychasthenic: hyper-care by parents contributes to the formation of an insecure adolescent, which can negatively affect communication with peers and lead to a speech problem.
Most psychologists as psychological causes of stuttering in adults identify a feeling of constant wrongness, inability to defend their rights, and fear of expressing their needs and desires. According to their position, all these negative feelings come from childhood.
Well-known author on psychosomatics Louise Hay sees the psychological basis of stuttering in adults as insecurity, incomplete self-expression, and the belief that tears as relief are not for you.
According to V. Zhikarentsev, the cause of this ailment is the lack of a sense of security and opportunity for self-expression, as well as a ban on crying.
Psychologist Liz Burbo explains that in his youth, the stutterer was very afraid to express his needs and desires. He was also afraid of those who represented authority for him. He felt a particularly strong fear when he needed to say something.
Ways of Healing Psychosomatic Stuttering
Doctors and speech therapists assert that stuttering, which appears as a result of incorrect (stressful) upbringing, is a reversible phenomenon. This means that all types of neurotic stuttering are successfully treated. Especially quickly and effectively, such types of speech disorders are treated before reaching the age of 12-15 years (the end of the pubertal or adolescent period).
Therefore, special speech therapy groups operate in kindergartens, the work of which is based on play therapy, speech therapy rhythmics (speaking in time with rhythmic finger movements, singing, etc.), and others.
It should be noted that in addition to the work of a speech therapist, parallel family therapy is very important (relaxation, distraction of attention, positive suggestion).
And this is natural. After all, if, as psychologists write, often the family itself becomes a provoking factor in the appearance of stuttering, then, of course, it is the family, first of all, that should make efforts to remove stress causes and restore normal conditions for the child’s development (love and full acceptance, etc.).
And the restoration of this speech disorder in older children will depend on the family and its efforts. Emotional support from loved ones, an atmosphere of emotional warmth and respect for all family members, sensitivity and attentiveness in relationships, parental love – all this will help the adolescent realize that he is loved, that he is safe. These newly restored basic feelings will allow him to regain the lost sense of confidence in himself and faith in his strength.
As for the ways of healing neurotic stuttering in an adult person, here it is necessary to work on oneself.
The first thing to do is to analyze one’s childhood and youth and find the psychological cause – the moment after which stuttering began (the clues are given above).
The second step of healing is associated with recognizing and accepting the cause: “Yes, in childhood, it so happened that I reacted in this way to fright or to the erroneous method of upbringing by parents. But now I am an adult and I understand, accept, and forgive myself, parents (or others who participated in the situation of the onset of the ailment). Now I can freely express my desires, express my point of view. No one now has power over me, no one hurries me, does not nag me, and I do not need to be afraid of anyone …” and so on.
In parallel with changing one’s usual timid and insecure thinking, it is possible and necessary to use various relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, affirmations, take up art therapy, song therapy (it has been found that stuttering disappears when singing), etc.
Wishing you Love and Light!