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The Relation Between Stuttering And Social Phobia

By Author: Inna Shine
Total Articles: 1

The Relation between Stuttering and Social Phobia
Doctors define stuttering as a speech disorder that is characterized by frequent repetition of sounds, syllables, or words, and/or making frequent stops, indecision in speech, and fracturing its rhythmic smooth flow. US National Stuttering Association draws an analogy between this disease and the tip of the iceberg, with the invisible part of the underwater iceberg, including fear, guilt, anxiety, and difficulty of making contact with people and solitude, as well as escape from the real world. Stuttering is a widespread problem that relates to both children and adults. According to psychiatrists, many adults who stutter are actually suffering from social phobia. The relation between social phobia (social anxiety) is bilateral: on the one side, stuttering may lead to the social phobia developments, on the other, social phobia may cause stuttering.
The need for social realization and socialization is one of the key necessities of a human being. It is known that an individual with stuttering often becomes a pariah among peers, worse at learning, even if having quite good intellectual abilities. This makes it difficult for stuttering individuals to adapt to the modern world and make them dependent on others. On this basis, successfully developed various mental disabilities - from a variety of fears and phobias (other than the already mentioned social phobia, one develop claustrophobia - fear of enclosed spaces, or, conversely, agoraphobia - fear of open places) to anxiety disorders (panic attacks, anxiety neurosis, etc.).
Sometimes there is a so-called pathological personality development, i.e. the formation of such features as the pursuit of loneliness, vulnerability, inability to manifest feelings and other features of nature, significantly complicating everyday life. Stuttering treated in time enables the individual to form a full-fledged mental attitude and personality and build ones life successfully. Therefore, it can be said that stuttering greatly influences the quality of life. Here, the importance of the matter is obvious as the most importance human desire stays unsatisfied.
The majority of people think of stuttering as of very simple, innocent and childish disorder. They say there is no need to treat it and to pay much attention to this problem. However, the importance of stuttering and its treatment is heavily underestimated. What is more important, people often mock at such people, think they have some brain disorder, offend them and do not consider them full-fledged members of society. With time, they really become less and less sociable. Therefore, proper attention and treatment should be paid to this problem.
Stuttering, as both psychological and speech disorder, was investigated by many specialists. From the very beginning of these studies, it was clear that social disorders and stuttering are closely related and usually logopedic rehabilitation is not enough to treat stuttering. It was found out that such patients also require psychological treatment in order to eliminate psychological causes or consequences of stuttering.
Modern scientists and doctors keep investigating into stuttering-related problems. They found out that the majority of studies have the direct and reliable evidences for the interconnection between these problems. In addition, they emphasize that different levels of stuttering are responsible for different levels of social phobia. The relation here is simple – the more individual stutters, the more are his/her problems with social adaptation.
Stuttering should be considered as one of the main and basic causes for social phobia and related disorders. In his causality research on stuttering relations to temperament, anxiety and personality, he points out the direct link between persistent stuttering to speech-related social phobia. What is important, speech related phobias are usually formed before adulthood. Therefore, the adult social phobia is not only related to adolescent stuttering, but is its direct consequence. One cannot name stuttering as the cause for social phobia, but they name it as the most frequent psychological concomitant of stuttering. The authors emphasize that all previous researches were conducted on the base of small participant groups, as well as the majority of studies were limited to the symptoms and severity of stuttering. However, they say that more recent researches show the growing number of adult social anxiety in people who stutter. Despite the problem identification, its determination and demonstration of its importance, there is a lack of interaction and mutual investigation between speech pathologists and psychologists for the problem treatment. According to the researchers, stuttering and anxiety is closely related in childhood and adolescents. The literature on this issue points out that the development mechanism of social phobia in relation to stuttering is to be investigated starting from the early childhood, since it increases over time.
The best way to investigate the stuttering problem is to study the speech of a particular individual. Sample 32 video demonstrates a speech of an individual with stuttering problem. One can notice several stuttering disfluencies in his speech. In the example there were sound repetitions, (we b b both agreed), prolongations (reentry back), interjections (uhm, uh, etc.), blocks (the prolonged pauses between words in sentence). What is important, this speaker has multi-component symptoms of stuttering, i.e. he combines various disfluencies in one sentence.
It is noticeable not only what and how the speaker talks, but how hard and challenging speaking is for him. One can notice that he closes his eyes at prolongations, his tongue staggers from some sounds (tch and th). In addition, one can see nervous symptoms in the video. The speaker wiggles sometimes, tries not to look into the camera, since he mostly looks down, tries to calm himself by taking deep breaths. No one can say for sure if this person is afraid or anxious of the camera or his stuttering problem makes him be anxious in social situations. However, it is obvious that stuttering makes the speech longer, less clear and less pleasant to ones ear. In addition, one can see that the speaker physically feels his inability to speak normally. This influences upon the speaker self-identification. He feels shy, dubious and insecure; it can be seen from the speaker’s facial expression and gestures. The mentioned behavioral traits only prove the possibility of social phobia being related to stuttering problem.
It is important to conclude that, most likely, one will not find a person suffering from stuttering, which would not be bothered with this problem. Logoneuroses deliver a lot of concerns, worries and inconvenience to both adults and children. Difficulties in establishing contacts with the opposite sex, fear of public speaking, the complexity of professional development, etc. For some people, who stutter, even a seemingly ordinary trip to the store or a phone call is a significant problem. Therefore, taking into account these factors, one can say that socio phobia, social anxiety and its weaker forms, manifested as restraint and diffidence, are directly connected to stuttering. Therefore, this problem should be treated from both logopedic and psychological sides.

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