I’m Daniel. I’m 18 and am a student at MIT. I began stuttering at age eleven. At first, I was blocking on words that began with “t,” but as time passed, stuttering gradually creeped into more words and sentences, creating intense anxiety. At its peak, I stuttered on 85% of my words. After some embarrassing incidents talking to strangers, I quickly developed strategies to make my stuttering largely covert, such as avoiding any pressured speaking situation and using synonyms for “tough” words.
However, my problem with stuttering was far from over as the intense fears persisted, and using filler words such as “like” and “you know” to buy time on feared words lowered my level of speech and perceived intellectual ability. I knew I had to take action at some point, as studying at MIT and becoming a doctor later won’t be as accepting of this type of poor communication.
Upon reading Lee’s book, I felt immediate relief and renewed confidence in myself that I can, in fact, beat speech anxiety. His book gave me the tools I needed to stop bad stuttering incidents, or Crutches as he calls them. However, Crutches are not to be mistaken for curing stuttering alone. They are only a temporary way to slow down and stop instances of “disfluency,” which Lee notes is the major contributor to the perpetuation of stuttering. In order to actually cure our speech problems, we need to have more memories and instances of speaking fluently, such as reading aloud to oneself and repeating certain affirmations, in order to quell the bad habit of stuttering. Once our fluency memories outnumber stuttering incidents to the point that we can effectively communicate and love to speak to others, we will end stuttering permanently.
In essence, Lee was steered to self-hypnosis by his psychiatrist over 50 years ago, and he gave himself three treatments daily for years. Recent discoveries of neuroplasticity and mind training have confirmed that we can literally rewire our brains and dictate our thoughts. Our thoughts and perceptions dictate our actions, of which stuttering is one of them. However, we can reprogram our minds to pursue a different path, speaking fluently just like any normal person.
I have had the great honor of crossing paths with Lee and his excellent teachings. After studying his book and Skyping with Lee ten or so times, I am confident that I can avoid appearing speech disabled in any situation. Indeed, I cannot remember my last “bad incident” (appearing disabled). I’m now working on teaching myself to love to speak in all venues and on applying daily mind training to all facets of my life. I intend to convert my past stuttering into a blessing in due course.
My advice to stutterers is to master Lee’s book and join World Stop Stuttering Association as it offers a host of programs and services that make Lee’s methods much easier to understand and apply, and the cost is a fraction of the cost of most therapies.
Daniel, Indiana, August 2020