STUTTER NO MOREBY DR. MARTIN F. SCHWARTZA NOTE TO THE READER
Nineteen ninety-eight marks the twenty-sixth anniversary of my association with New York University Medical Center. During most of these years I have led two lives. The first has beenmy association with the Department of Surgery and basic research on birth defects, particularlythe problems of cleft lip and palate. My second, which emerged from the first, started twenty-two years ago when I accidentally discovered the physical cause of stuttering and developed atreatment for it.The birth of my second life was not without incident. When I entered it, research colleagueswere there waiting, contending that stuttering was not my area, that I should stay with basicresearch, and that direct, clinical work with stutterers represented a form of prostitution thatwould destroy my career.Clinicians, on the other hand, contended that I was an interloper, that I should remain in my"ivory tower" and stay off their "turf." They even went so far as to threaten legal action!I listened to both groups for quite a while before making the decision to forge ahead. Inretrospect, I was correct, and the ensuing years have borne witness to a revolution in both our understanding and treatment of stuttering - all stimulated by my initial discovery of its physicalcause.As I have continued to work with stutterers I have been struck by their similarities. There is nodifference treating a person from France, Nigeria, Japan or the US. The stories and emotionsare the same.What follows is a compilation of experiences gleaned from many patients; it represents thevoice of the archetypical stutterer speaking about his life; it is why I feel so deeply about the problem and why I continue to work personally with stutterers whenever I can."Imagine that from the time you were a child you stuttered with everyone. Not that you wantedto stutter, mind you, you just couldn't help yourself. As a result you often went to great lengthsto avoid stuttering and, in so doing, found that people misunderstood you. They considered youaloof, withdrawn, a loner, the silent type.But you ached to be with people, you had much to say, and the thought of the interaction wasmarvelous. And so each night before you went to sleep you prayed that this dreadful afflictionwould be gone. But it was not to be.As a child you were sent to specialists who tried to show you how to stop stuttering or how tostutter in less offensive ways. Sometimes you stopped with them, but as soon as you left their office it returned, and their suggestions, which earlier had worked so well, now failedmiserably.