Fluke fluency, Chinese water & conch-shells

Some time back, I decided to give up using Windows and switch to Linux (Fedora). An IT friend installed it and then he had to leave. I tried installing my USB modem on my own- with great courage! I hunted for threads in support forums, read help files, consulted experts on-line, cut/paste some ‘config’ file- I did many things blindly – and suddenly the USB modem was blinking! I had a breakthrough! So, to complete the process of updating all the softwares I rebooted. And lo! The USB was no more working. I did not know, what I had done, what was the reason and what had suddenly worked. I had no clue. I tried to have a second “fluke” but nothing happened. Finally I gave up and called the IT friend who came and helped me. Sometime, similar things happen in the field of stammering. Something suddenly clicks and we start being much more fluent then we ever were. But we have no idea what was the cause of ‘my stammering’ and what helped ‘me’ particularly. But the sudden release is so liberating that we attribute our fluency to the first thing which comes into our head and start promoting that method as ‘the cure’ for stammering. Some of us go a step further and start SELLING it too. Young PWS, faced with sudden increase in demands on communication in their teens (higher education, career, new friends) are often under severe stress. They are willing to spend their precious money on any claim- especially coming from ‘ex-stammerers’: I used to be a very severe stutterer; I have been through all the pain and anguish. Then, I learned this and it worked like a miracle… (kind of emotional blackmail). SK, trained as Engineer and in his early twenties, attended our Herbertpur self help group for some months. Then, he got a job and was transferred away. Some months later, he phoned and said that he has been blowing Conch-shell (shankh) regularly and it has dramatically helped his stammering. I thanked him for this information and wished him well. Now, imagine if SK went around claiming that blowing conch-shell is the cure for stammering.. Further, imagine SK running paid seminars on type of conch-shells and the correct technique of holding it etc.! Yes, lung exercises can help to some extent, some of us, but to what extent are we going to be ‘open’ minded and willing to invest? To what limits? Let us not forget that any new technique will help many PWS – but only for a short while. Then, relapse occurs. If you think this was an extreme example, look at the ad below; it offers stammering cure in 24 hours through the use of miraculous “Chinese water” brought to India for the first time by an ex stammerer- Mr D K Prasad. It was being offered as a live seminar at Citizen hotel, Juhu beach. Entry fee is only Rs 50. This ad appeared in Economic Times, Mumbai, an English news paper on 12th July 2003. Now, even if 200 people came, Mr Prasad, the ex-stammerer would have earned Rs 10,000 in two hours. Do you think these 200 people will ever complain about the fraud? Wont they look so silly? Whenever a method fails to work or stops working, PWS typically blame themselves: May be I did not work hard enough; may be I am ‘unlucky’; may be it is my fault only. So, no one complains publicly and Mr Prasad can carry on his live seminar. Something similar is happening in stuttering world all the time. Here is a true case study: DK, a young man in retail business of computer parts, in Kolkata contacted TISA on June 4th 2009 – “..My age is 26years …. I have cured myself from Stammering Cure Centre at B …. Address of my blog is Kolkata anti-stammering group … I know some practices which i want to share with others for their benefits… 🙂 ..” DK made other contacts with TISA and with other PWS on Internet forums. TISA encouraged him to start a self help group in Kolkata, believing his motives to be charitable. Then, his posts on Orkut, started taking on a different tone: Why accept stammering when you can cure it like me? Contact me immediately.. TISA discovered that DK had started charging Rs 2000 for ten sessions for teaching exercises learned at Banglore. We decided to phone him and find out more about his ‘practice’. We asked him a) do you have any training in Speech therapy? b) any training in health sciences? c) have you been authorized/ trained by PB to pass on his anti-stammering techniques to others for a fee? d) do you have a franchisee from PB? Answer to all these questions was NO. On asking why should he charge at all for helping fellow stutterers, he gave following logic:a) I have spent Rs 8000/- on my therapy. I must get it back.(But will he stop at Rs 8000?)
b) If PB is charging, why should I not? (There is no comparison.)
c) What can I do? PWS come and give it to me on their own. I dont ask. (reminds us of the corrupt bureaucrat who says: I dont ask for bribe. They come and force it on me!) Going by his posts, he does not state what was the underlying cause of his stammering (he claims that he has forgotten all about his stammering) and what exactly has helped him- but all the same he is selling his services to PWS – with no guarantees, actual or implicit. Does he try to assess and find out what kind of stuttering his client is facing? Obviously no (we spoke to one of his ‘clients’). Then, there are those websites, which offer you a solution you can practice from the privacy of your home- either a pdf file about phobia, social anxiety, panic attacks, positive thinking etc or a computer based speech program. That phrase “from the privacy of your home” is the bait. Will the typical PWS stop to think of the paradox- curing stammering in the privacy of home? Curing stammering under nine minutes? Most likely not. Since the element of shame and fear is at the bottom of “stuttering mindset”, almost all PWS fall for it. And never complain later.
Some of these campaigns try to shame and bully PWS into buying there therapy: You talk of acceptance because you have failed. If you were as committed as me, you could be fluent like me. This is highly objectionable. In order to do anything about your communication, you have to first accept that there is a problem. Without this acceptance, why would anyone want to do anything? Acceptance does not mean giving up or becoming indifferent. You accept your stammer but work on your overall communication. Secondly, experts like Van Riper and Sheehan maintain that stammering is outcome of a struggle, a conflict (desire to hide, mask or force through our disfluency). When a PWS learns to accept the fact that she/ he is sometime disfluent, the struggle and conflict are no more there. Then, her/his mind is more free to communicate. Thirdly, a certain amount of disfluency is there in everybody’s speech. Watch news anchors and see for yourself. If a PWS is not willing to accept even that, what is he aiming at? to become a talking robot? a perfect machine? What is the role of people who buy such cures? We think, PWS, especially young ones need to be even better informed. If they spend one hour at Orkut, they should spend at least two hours at BSA, NSA, Kuster’s home page and such other responsible, objective websites providing correct & latest knowledge with out selling pitch. Else, Chinese miracle water will keep flowing through the Indian conch-shells!

3 Comments

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  1. admin 10 years ago

    A ton of thanks for such an eye-opener… TISA is doing a great job by standing tall against all such fraudsters from duping the innocent PWS…

    This Mr. DK, is on the prowl on popular social networking sites for quite some time now. He claims to have forgotten his stammering and belittles people who talk about accepting stammering. He regards Hrithik Roshan as a failure because he accepts that he still stammers. He claims that stammering is 100% curable and he can do it! Yes … he charges…

    But what really astonished me is that he had contacted TISA. Because none of his posts on any forums indicate the attitude that TISA and it's members have towards stammering. He never speaks of TISA and it's motives, but rather speaks more about himself and his great achievements about stammering cure.

    It's really important to raise our voice against all such frauds… I hope all the readers make a note of this…

  2. admin 10 years ago

    Graet Post Dr.Sachin. Surely an eye opener to all PWS especially to the younger generation.

  3. kishore 10 years ago

    Young minds are more inclined to such gimmicks. the impatience of youth is uncontrollable until they are provided with some evidences as shown by sachin sir or else they fall prey to these frauds.

    I talked with Mr DK twice long time back in July and he was using prolongation with each syllable (and he says he have no trace of stammering .. how strange)with PWS its very easy to maintaine the slow pace of speaking as here we assume that the other person is not ashamed to my stutter..so now why Mr DK is denying the theory of Acceptance.. again so strange.

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