Many people who stutter believe that they stutter because of their feelings about themselves and being too concerned with what other people think of them. It cannot be denied that people who stutter often stutter more when they are concerned over how they present themselves or how their speech sounds to others. However, it is important to differentiate between what causes stuttering and what increases stuttering. Making this difference is essential for understanding what stuttering is and for the self-esteem of many people who are sincerely trying to not let their stuttering affect their lives.
I want to make this point, because I have heard many people who stutter say that if they could make themselves care less about stuttering, they would not stutter. The fact that they are still stuttering seems to them to be a failure in their ability to cope emotionally. This is not the case. A person can be the most centered, emotionally intelligent and socially well-adjusted person and still stutter. This is true, because stuttering is a condition that involves so much more than the person’s feelings.
Today researchers are coming up with more and more evidence that the place where speech is created, the brain, is the source of stuttering. Recently new genetic research lead by Dennis Drayna at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, has shown that at least some people (thought to be 9% of the people who stutter) have a gene mutation, not found in fluent speakers. It turns out that these particular genes are responsible for the production of two enzymes necessary for a metabolic process required by all cells, but that especially affect a group of cells in the brain responsible for speech. Other researchers studying other families have also found indications of mutations in genes of those members of the family who stutter. The relationship of these genes to speaking is not yet clear. However, what we are seeing is that stuttering isn’t simply a question of how the person feels.
For those people who have tried to stop stuttering by changing only their attitude and feelings, it is important to know that stuttering is not only about what you feel inside. Advertising stuttering is good and helpful. Learning to be self-accepting of yourself whether or not you stutter is essential for your personal wellbeing. Being disappointment in yourself and thinking you have failed because you still stutter is self-defeating and misplaced.