Stuttering: What I’ve Learned

I want people to benefit from what I’ve learned about the cause and nature of stuttering from Aesthetic Realism. Over the years, I’ve read many articles about this impediment to expression which affects people of every age, and every country throughout history. The beautiful thing about the approach of Aesthetic Realism to the subject is that it RELATES stuttering to other manifestations interfering with expression. It takes stuttering out of the isolated field it is generally placed in, and shows it is in relation to other manifestations people have in expressing themselves–like speaking too fast, too loudly, too softly, and in other ways. In several articles, I have outlined some of the rich knowledge I’ve gained studying Aesthetic Realism.

There’s a lot written today about how a person who stutters shouldn’t be ashamed, and should be proud. Of course, no person should be made fun of because of this impediment, but it’s hard to believe that a person who stutters can deeply feel proud of that fact, try as one might. We wish we could get rid of the hesitations and the repetitions and the forced silences. However, since the cause of stuttering isn’t seen with the largeness it needs, persons who stutter are told they it makes them “special” because they can’t change it. I don’t believe that any person, in his or her heart of hearts feels stuttering is “right” or something “special” to be proud of. I felt sorry for myself and stuck with it. I thought “I was more sensitive than other people.” Certainly, one should do the best one can with this difficulty, but it’s hard to live with it. I know. A lot of us shut up and stop speaking, or speak as little as possible–or thrust out something painfully making everyone wait until we get it all out. But we don’t feel expressed, and that doesn’t work so well.

There is an answer. Aesthetic Realism is so kind because it shows we can study the subject—see it in relation to other manifestations which impede expression. I learned I had an attitude to the world which I needed to understand. Eli Siegel’s definitive understanding of stuttering is in a chapter of Self and World, “A Philosophy of Self and Disease,” beginning on page 322. I quote some paragraphs from that chapter in my article “How My Stuttering Ended.

The approach to why a person stutters by Aesthetic Realism is refreshing, accurate, hopeful, and successful. In 1946 at Steinway Hall, before I ever heard of Aesthetic Realism, in a talk titled “The Philosophy of Stuttering,” one in a series of talks on how Aesthetic Realism sees different subjects, Eli Siegel said:

“Stuttering is perhaps the most dramatic example of a dislocation of self and world. Explanations of stuttering in terms of “trauma” aren’t sufficient. Stuttering arises because a person wants to say something and at the same time wants to keep it to himself. It’s a battle between the self intimately and the self that wants to be expansive.”

—How Aesthetic Realism sees stuttering is new and it needs to be respectfully studied by persons in the field—persons who want to understand stuttering from a philosophic and scientific point of view. Yes, a person who stutters can change how he or she sees the world, making it possible to stop stuttering.