Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Medical The onset of stuttering

  1. Oct 27, 2007 #1
    It's interesting that "stuttering" can be such a hard word for me to say when I'm stuttering.

    I had a very bad case of stuttering when I was young (in elementary school). After many years of speech therapy, I turned out all right and by 6th grade I was speaking fine.

    Some days, however, can be bad days, such as when I'm tired or really stressed out or nervous, and my stuttering will come back a bit.

    However, now that I'm in college, I've noticed that my stuttering comes back severely whenever I drink. After just a few drinks, my stuttering is so bad that I'm near incomprehensible. It's really frustrating and rather embarrassing when you can't talk to people because you're stuttering. Although, it is kind of a good thing, because it deters me from drinking.

    Also, my stuttering problem has gotten quite a bit worse, even when I'm not drinking, and I'm having many more 'bad days'. I'm even more embarrassed and frustrated to be stuttering when I'm sober.

    Why would my situation be getting so much worse as I'm growing older? Perhaps it because I'm living in a new environment (i.e., not living at home anymore)? Does anyone else have (or know of someone who does) a case of adult stuttering? It's really starting to bug me and I've been thinking about going to a psychiatrist to try and straighten things out.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Since you say the stuttering gets worse when you're stressed or tired, are you more stressed and tired in college than when you were younger? Most people do find that to be the case...harder courseloads, more things to juggle, late nights partying or studying (take your pick) followed by early morning classes. And, of course, if you're starting to feel self-conscious about the stutter, it could be adding to your stress...sort of caught in a loop there.

    Nonetheless, it's probably a good idea to see a psychiatrist anyway...just to rule out some other reason, or to help you cope with the stress if it's reaching the point where it's interferring with your ability to fully function in this way.

    It's interesting that you're experiencing worsening of the stutter with drinking. I haven't been around many people who stutter, but the few I have been around, they are better when drinking because they feel less inhibited or nervous around people, so relax and don't have that nervous component adding to it. But, that's only a few people I've known, so I don't know what the general pattern is or how alcohol might affect it in others.
  4. Oct 28, 2007 #3
    I would avoid a psychiatrist: they will just give you medication on a trial and error basis.

    A therapist or counselor, on the other hand, might help you identify stressors and help you figure out out how to obviate them.
    Anecdote about a related problem: a girl I know here who had a noticable speech impediment when I first met her several months ago. She was very shy and unsure of herself. During that time something has happened to bolster her self confidence because now she looks me directly in the eye when talking and her speech impediment is pretty much gone: it was somehow psychological to begin with, not a physical problem inside her mouth as I thought at first.

    I found out recently that she had a very strict father, and I suspect he was the root of her previous low self image. She seemed to be in a constant state of insecurity about what she had permission to do or say. She hasn't lived at home for about a year now and I expect she's slowly realizing that saying or doing the "wrong" thing is not the disaster in the real world that it was around her father. At any rate, the speech impediment is now gone.

    This forum has a 6 page thread on the subject of alcohol and stuttering:

    http://www.stutteringforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=34 [Broken]

    Most report much less stuttering while drinking, but a couple get worse like you.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  5. Oct 28, 2007 #4
    Thanks for the info! I'm going to see the counselor at my school later this week.
  6. Dec 6, 2007 #5
    Doom of Doom,

    your problem seems a lot like mine in many ways. I struggled with stuttering (I am more of a blocker, I tend not to repeat too much) although for many people it looked like I was fine. In reality I was being sneaky about it because over the years I developed a sense for which words might give me trouble and I would automatically look for a different one or instead modify my sentence to avoid that word. It became so unconcscious that sometimes I even forget that I stutter in the first place! I did a couple years of therapy (when I was an adult in my 20s) and that did seem to help a lot. I know what you mean by having "bad days". I sometimes have "bad conversations" and just can't speak smooth enough. I am also tri-lingual and I tend to stutter less in the language that I am more comfortable in. I didn't have much luck figuring out a relationship between bad episodes of stuttering and possible causes but I know that stressful situations do play a role. Often times when I am feeling very comfortable about things and I am feeling confident I speak so smoothly and flawlessly. I love it when I do that.

    I highly recommend seeing a speech pathologist. I was very lucky to have a good speech program and a clinic at my university and I was able to get therapy for a nominal price, otherwise it could be kinda expensive. I learned some techniques that helped me and now I don't think about my speech problem that much anymore. I've had some stuttering episodes in the past that were so disastrous that I will never ever forget, usually infront of a bigger group or when presenting/reading. But at the speech clinic I learned techniques on how to relax, how to reduce the stuttering to a normal level, and many other things. I will be happy to share some of those if you're interested.

    In the meantime I wish you the best and also remember that your problem is probably not as bad as you might imagine, we as stutterers are usually very self-consious of them. And yes, the word stuttering is one of the hardest words for me to pronounce! Kinda ironic, isn't?
  7. Dec 14, 2007 #6
    James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, had a severe problem.

    Do your counselors or doctors ask if you stutter when you whisper?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook