Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Our brains are not abnormal but just different? A harmful attitude!

BSA posted a link to a research paper on their website here and added this sentence after a very short description of the research:
In 'research-speak' the authors are talking about 'abnormalities', though BSA holds that our brains aren't 'abnormal' but different.
Our brains are clearly abnormal, in the sense that they are different to the norm. They are not just different, because this typically means that they function well within the normal range and have aspects that are different but which do not impact functioning.

Therefore, BSA (or the person who posted it in the name of the whole BSA) does not represent my view as a person who stutters, and I am confident that many people that stutter and that I know would agree with me. Indeed, the BSA does also not represent the majority view of the stuttering community on this issue, in my view.

In fact, this attitude of telling researchers how to express themselves is making the researchers' life just more difficult and causing real harm as they have to spend valuable time thinking about words rather than about their research and are being forced to use words that do not accurately reflect their thinking just so as not to trigger some people who believe that stutteres are offended when, in my view, most don't care at all and would love to hear the unfiltered words of researchers.

Moreover, this attitude harms people who stutter as it prevents them to face the realities of their brains and creates hostility against researchers as the "bad" people who describe people who stutter in a "wrong and discriminatory way". Quite the opposite is the reality. Researchers care about people who stutter but they also care for their freedom to express themselves as they see fit.

5 comments:

Norbert Lieckfeldt said...

Words have power, and 'abnormal' in anyone's book is a very powerful judgment. The way my brain works is built and functions is perfectly normal for me.

It's quite funny how Tom ends up talking about 'difference' when he's trying to tell me that I shouldn't use 'different' when 'abnormal' will do.

It'd be interesting to know how many people who stammer actually agree or would be happy with the statement "My brain is abnormal".

Tom Weidig said...

>> The way my brain works is built and functions is perfectly normal for me.

Of course, it is normal for you, because you are part of a sample with sample size one! You can also argue that it is normal within the group of stutterers, but not within all humans.

Research is about looking at all human beings and there you clearly fall out of the norm with your abnormal speech behaviour.

Your brain does not function in a normal way and I see this clearly when you have blocks. You have abnormal speech behaviours which most likely arise from an abnormal brain.

>> It's quite funny how Tom ends up talking about 'difference' when he's trying to tell me that I shouldn't use 'different' when 'abnormal' will do.

I said that "different" does not need to apply abnormal in the sense that the function is outside the norm and is impaired. Youe voice can be different to other voices but you can still speak fluently.

I did not say that YOU should not use it. I said that the BSA should not use it. You wrote in the name of the BSA and in a sense also in the name of all people who stutter. You are abusing your position to further your ideological views unless the BSA has a clear public policy on this.


>> It'd be interesting to know how many people who stammer actually agree or would be happy with the statement "My brain is abnormal".

And here is exactly the issue. You are abusing your position to push your ideological view without the consensus of the stuttering community.

And I am sure some will not be happy with the statement "my brain is abnormal" or "you are significantly overweigh", but facts are facts.








Norbert Lieckfeldt said...

Hi Tom

As I said, language has power. You've completely overlooked this point. I know that your use of language has often been careless but BSA is trying to be more careful.

Given my previous experience with you, I'm perfectly willing to accept you're incabable of hearing the subtext that is involved when you're labelling people as 'abnormal'. Why not use 'sub-normal', by the way? 'Ab' denotes a sideways move, 'sub' denotes a lesser capacity, wouldn't you agree?

Researchers always need to choose their language carefully, it's their job. And whatever is acceptable has been changing all the time. So I don't see how looking at their language once again is too much of a chore. Language changes. Deal with it.

"You wrote in the name of the BSA and in a sense also in the name of all people who stutter."

That's a very tall assumption, isn't it? I'm clearly not writing in your name, so that theory is already disproven.

"You are abusing your position to further your ideological views unless the BSA has a clear public policy on this."

Well, stigmatising language isn't a Law of Nature, it (and your defence of it) is just as much an ideology as my view. Let's recall, the article has been on our website for a few months and nobody really has taken any offence. Except you. Who isn't really affected.

I'm articulating the views of the BSA Trustees.
One of the Trustees wrote in response to your note:

"Tom,obviously comes from a very medical model perspective and that is where his thoughts come from. However, as you highlight nicely Norbert, words like abnormal do help portray the stigma of stammering in society and, in my view, this stigma causes in itself significant disability for people who stammer (as can be seen by Clare Butler's research)."

Have a lovely weekend.

N.

Tom Weidig said...

>> Let's recall, the article has been on our website for a few months and nobody really has taken any offence. Except you. Who isn't really affected.

Really? Here is why! People (especially researchers) are scared to speak up in public against attempts to tell them what language they should use.

I had researchers in private expressing concern about a vocal minority of the stuttering community trying to play the word police...

Norbert Lieckfeldt said...

Awwww, diddums.