Stuttering Foundation

Even in these days of instagram and instant messaging there’s a place for finely crafted long copy that takes time to read. It can resonate with the reader in a unique way. The challenge is to make it engaging and relevant. Here’s two pieces I enjoyed researching and writing. 
 
“Hitler is a monster of wickedness, insatiable in his lust for blood and plunder. So now this bloodthirsty guttersnipe must launch his mechanized armies upon new fields of slaughter, pillage and devastation.” It’s no secret Sir Winston Churchill’s broadcasts were a vital weapon during WW2. His verbal missiles across the Channel inspired the Allied forces and infuriated the Fuhrer. As President John F. Kennedy once stated: “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” But there was another war - a silent one - that Churchill waged behind the scenes. For like King George, Churchill fought a constant battle with a stutter. Churchill stuttered all his life. Early campaign speeches were described as “painful and embarrassing to listen to.” And his maiden speech to parliament received and unfavorable report because of his hesitant style. However, Churchill was not to be defeated.
I was the not the lion. But I was the lion’s roar.”
Churchill, like many stutterers, developed strategies to combat problems with his speech. To begin with, there was no way the Minister for War was going to be ambushed by a word that made him stutter. He mine swept his speeches to remove difficult sounding words. Churchill would then memorize every word so that there were no surprises when he spoke.Churchill also camouflaged his stutter, which led to his distinctive style of speech. His grave pauses weren’t for theatrical effect, but helped him to breath correctly and minimize his stutter. Also to soften a difficult word and let him flow from one word to another he would elongate sounds within the word. Words such as “never” were drawn out so they sounded like “nevaaaaaah”. ” The end result? Some of history’s most inspirational speeches, all spoken by a stutterer.
“What kind of people do they think we are?”
Obviously, a stutter is not the sign of a stunted mind or a weak will. In fact, when Churchill wrote his epic History of the English Speaking Peoples he could have dedicated a chapter to great intellects who were also stutterers. Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo, Charles Darwin and Lewis Carroll were all stutterers. Now perhaps a question on the tip of your tongue is this; what causes even the greatest minds to struggle with their speech?  Over the centuries there has been an army of theories. Childhood trauma, father issues, Oedipal complexes, sibling rivalries, tongue deformities, possession by evil spirits and witchcraft just to name a few. Some of the ‘cures’ were just as unsound. They included blistering the tongue with hot irons, bleeding the lips wit leeches and forcing the stutterer to eat the feces of goats.
“Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never.”
These days a stutter isn’t so misunderstood. Research now says a stutter is a physical problem, not an emotional one. It’s simply a timing problem between the brain, speaking and breathing mechanisms. Of course, stress can aggravate a stutter –like having to be the voice of a nation in the midst of war – but it is definitely not the cause. And these days there are treatments and exercises that can have a stutterer speaking with freedom and ease. It’s not an easy or instant cure, but it’s a battle that can be won. If you are a stutterer and would like more details simply contact the Stuttering Foundation; stutter@stutterhelp.org. Then conquer your stutter.  On the beaches, on the streets, on the phone. Anywhere you like.
 
Isaac Newton is universally recognized as one of the world’s greatest minds. He discovered the laws of Gravity. Invented calculus and revolutionized the study of optics and astronomy. For hundreds of years after his death students of mathematics and physics hung off his every word. Newton was also a stutterer. He stuttered so badly that when he spoke to Parliament, he would ask for the windows to be closed so the public wouldn’t hear him. Newton was also considered a loner. Some say this was because he was arrogant. But perhaps Newton, like many stutterers, simply shied away from company because he was too embarrassed by his stuttering.
Great minds speak alike.
While Newton may have felt isolated because of his speech, he certainly wasn’t alone. Galileo, who was the first to establish the true positions of the planets, was a stutterer. Charles Darwin, the author of the Theory of Evolution, also struggled with his speech. As did Lewis Carroll, Henry James, King George and Winston Churchill. Perhaps this is evidence that far from being stupid, a stutterer may actually possess above average intelligence. For instance, when most people talk with a stutterer they try to finish the stutterer’s sentence for them.  You try finishing this one from Newton: 
“If several bodies revolve around a common center, and the centripal force is reciprocally in the duplicate ration of the distance of places from the center; I say, that the principal laterna recta of their orbits is…...........”
With Newton as a spokesperson it’s obvious stuttering doesn’t restrict your thinking. But as an enquiring mind like Newton’s might ask;
Why are such great thinkers men of few words?
In Newton’s day a stutter was completely misunderstood. Many believed it was caused by a lazy tongue. Others swore that a stutterer was possessed by evil spirits. Later theories were just as hard to swallow. They included Oedipal complexes, father issues, sibling rivalries, tongue deformities, suppressed anger and witchcraft. However recent research says stuttering is not the result of an emotional trauma. Or even a bump on the head from an apple.A stutter is simple a physical problem. Just miscues in timing between the brain, speech and breathing mechanisms. When you consider the physics of speech it makes a lot of sense. It takes over 100 muscles to say a single word. The average person says between 120 and 180 words per minute. It’s not surprising that every so often things can go wrong. Of course, an emotional trauma or stress can aggravate a stutter, but it’s certainly not the cause.Unfortunately, in Newton’s time there was little awareness of how a stutter could be treated. One “solution” was to cut off the tip of the stutterer’s tongue. Another tasteful treatment was to make the stutterer eat horseradish until he threw up.
One discovery Newton would have loved to have made.
Fortunately these days you don’t have to be stuck with your stutter. Or be forced to endure a treatment that does little more than leave a bad taste in your mouth. You can choose to have your stutter treated so that it will virtually disappear. It’s not an instant cure, but it can be done. Most likely the treatment will involve exercises that you will have to do every day. Of course, that’s an example of Newton’s Third Law of Motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Do the exercises and the reaction will be irrefutable. You can be speaking with freedom and ease.
Sound advice.
If you are a stutterer and would like more details, simply contact; The Stuttering Foundation of America. stutter@stutterhelp.orgIf you are not a stutterer here are a few hints that may help you when you meet someone that is. Try not to finish a stutterer’s sentence, not matter how frustrating it feels for you. Listen closely so they don’t have to repeat a word or sentence. And if they seem unable to talk, just ask if they would like to write it down. Stutterers are good at writing. After all, they have written the odd piece or two. Like the Laws of Gravity.

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