Reactions to Stammering: Nature vs. Nurture

A comment “Common, isn’t it just a natural urge to laugh when you see someone speaking like p.p.p…? With organisations like TISA and their PILs, laughing may not be ‘politically correct’ but then who can deny that natural urge to laugh?” by someone agonised me and left me thinking. Questions like ‘Is stammering inherently a funny disorder? Does it trigger a natural laugh? came to my mind. Of course this position doesn’t discount the suffering associated stammering and that perhaps is a separate issue. How to resolve this? I have been observing my 4 year old son and I see positive feelings like love and affection comes naturally to him. However at the same time negative feelings like jealousy and anger (and sadly also violence sometimes!) also come equally naturally to him. So I decided to watch his reactions while he talks with a CWS whose speech has typical repetition (p.p.p…) form of stammering. To my surprise I found my son listening to him without an iota of laughter and with complete patience till CWS completed his sentence and then only responding to what CWS spoke rather than how he spoke. Moreover, my son has never mentiond about stuttered speech of his CWS friend even once to me or my wife. It seems stammering is not even worth noticing for him and he is perhaps taking it as a part of diverse, plural world. The way he talks with his CWS friends is like any mature person or an SLP who has not only read but also digested “tips for speaking with someone who stutters”! There is no way he can acquire these listening traits as he is too young to understand all that. Therefore, I have a reason to believe that his behaviour is in fact natural and on the other hand, laughing and ridiculing that PWS experience is perhaps acquired. Comments welcome 🙂


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  1. admin 9 years ago

    Akash, you make a very valid point and I must say u r great observer of things around u! I still believe it depends on person to person and situation to situation!

  2. admin 9 years ago

    Yeah it depends on person to person,I have even met people who have unintentionally laughed and then immediately apologized for their behaviour.Some get impatient while others dont care.Then there are some who make fun on purpose(though these are very very less in my experience). And then there are some close ones who feel more upset than I do when I block.It just depends on person to person.The good thing is that any reaction whether good or bad has stopped affecting me(which I believe is a huge huge achievement for me).
    I also want to ask one more question -How many of us laughed at Tushar Kapur's imitation of a dumb guy in the first two parts of Golmaal ???? I know I did !!!! Was it intentional ???? Would I make fun of a dumb guy in real life ??? As far as I know myself,the answer is a definite no !! Some things just trigger a reaction in a person without his own fault,so I have learnt to forgive such involuntary laughing of people when I stammer.

  3. admin 9 years ago

    This is really amazing analysis of a practical situation by Dr. Akash who is a genuine and gentle person too.

    But the atittudes of PWS and his surroundings totally depends on the CLASS of the people around him. And the stammering intensity of a PWS. This is not specific targeted comment for anyone.

    By CLASS of the people, I mean level of his intellect and moral qualities. We cannot expect a matured behaviour with a pws from an illiterate person who is like almost mentally retarded.

    And another thing is that severity of pws, I observed that ALL nice and sermon posts at TISA were dominated by a mild or too mild pws.
    Its rare that a severe pws will write nice and inspiring posts.

    Just like there is a valley between non-pws and a pws. In the same way, I am scared that there MAY be a valley gap between a severe pws and mild pws.

    I observed that there was HUGE and GIGANTIC difference between thoughts of a sever pws and a mild pws.
    Sometimes just like there is communication gap between a non-pws and a pws , same way there MAY prevail a condition between a severe pws and a mild pws. It may also go to the length that a severe pws may feel low on account of mild pws because mild pws always tend to be positive while this seems just like a dream for a severe pws.
    Its hard to believe I know but human psychology works this way to best of my knowledge.
    This is not specifically for anyone or anything.
    I am not even sure that myself or others are mild or severe pws.
    But this seems to be true to some extent.

    No offense to anyone.

    (Sorry Dr.Akash for writing almost off topic and lengthy comment under your post).

  4. Anonymous 9 years ago

    True, it is natural for some people like me to laugh if he/she looks something different but thanks to god for making me stuttered so pain associated with being abnormal can be felt by me.
    I sometimes wonder that punishment we receive is because we might have ridiculed people with disability in past birth though it sounds implausible.

  5. Sachin 9 years ago

    Yes, I agree. Sometime, I have seen people laughing out of embarrassment- not amusement – and just not knowing how are they supposed to react.. a little confused so they do the safest thing (in their opinion)- smile!
    I am sure many such people will not smile or give other inappropriate reactions if someone told them that stammerer finds stammering painful..
    This is what we need to do more and more..


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