Saturday, December 03, 2005

Oblivious to reality

PDS never stops surprising me. It is amazing just how complex humans are despite just being a bunch of cells made out of atoms. :-) Some days ago, I started with a draft for a new post called "Therapy results after 3 weeks". I did talk quite a bit about the therapy in my last posts, and people started asking me about the results. So I wanted to write this, admittedly not very positive statement:

"Last month, I was writing about the Kassel Stuttering Therapy, both from the perspective of a patient and of a researcher trying to improve its efficacy. I also said that I was pretty fluent in the second and third week of the therapy, and was giving talks in front of 50 people or so. So I guess some of you would like to know how I am doing three weeks after therapy. Well, I think it is fair to say that the last three weeks have been a desaster speech-wise. The first week I had several difficult speaking situation asking the tax office to give me back money, being a traffic jam for 3 hours, explaining the dentist in a foreign language, negotiations of a business deal on the phone and so on. So I effectively completely lost it. The real problem is that once I loose it, I have far less control the next time, and I also just forget or postpone practising. Anyway, now I am back practising again and today I started with making short phone calls."

But now compare this statement to a discussion I recently had with my parents:

"Parents: Can I ask you a question? You suddently speak much more fluently. What has happened?
Tom: What do you mean I speak more fluently? I dont think so.
Parents: Yes, you do. What have you done?
Tom: I also did the KST therapy again when I was in Kassel. But I dont think I speak more fluently.
Parents: Come on, Tom. You must be noticing that you have much less blocks and fillers. Why are you lying to us!
Tom: Eeehhh (I start stuttering again) Nnno, not really. I dont really notice this.
Parents: You are strange.."

Somehow those two statements do not really seem to fit well! On the one hand, I talk about the three weeks after being a desaster and they talk about me being much more fluent. Honestly, I did not realise that I had been much more fluent. I think both statements are true. I certainly was very dysfluent in some situations over the three weeks. I know this for sure, because I recorded the phone conversations and listened to them. But one the other hand, I have to believe my parent's statements that I have been much fluent, that is when I was talking to them. So I might well have been more fluent generally, but in very stressful situations dysfluent. The thing that puzzles me is my total ignorance of the fact that I speak more fluently generally. Why dont I realise this? I really must be strange.... :-)


Peter said...

Hi Tom

I read your Blog about your over-critical view of your stammering and was reminded of the BSA article
'Are adults who stammer too sensitive?' Monitoring against what standards, I wonder? In answer to their final question, I suspect the sensitivity comes from the standards which are being unconsciously used, the 'shoulds' etc.

Also, I saw a program last night which illustrated how the hippocampus was very prominent in London Cab drivers who had to learn 'The Knowledge".
Shows, for me, how brain structure can follow function ie change the behaviour and the structure changes both positively and negatively.

And finally, Prof Sir Michael Marmot's book Status Syndrome is an excellent account of Emergence in health in general. He is an epidemiologist. He
doesn't have the model well worked out, but if you read the book you might get more of a sense of where I am coming from, in these terms. The book is for a popular audience and is about how your social standing affects your health! A good read.

All the best


Tom Weidig said...

I would talk about "lack of perception of changed fluency" rather than "over-critical view". Had I listened to recordings of my speech, I would have agreed that I am more fluent. So I am not more critical than others. I am just not aware of changed fluency.

The BSA article suggests that people are MORE sensitive to dysfluencies, whereas my experience is that I am not sensitive to dysfluency changes.

It is clear that function can change structure and structure can change function. The same is true for a computer hardware and software. But there are limits to a change.