5 minute read

Stuttering explained: a complete brainwash

Last week we joined a talk show. We were invited to talk about stuttering, and so was another speech therapist. The host used to stutter himself too, so everything was set up for an interesting conversation.

And it was very interesting.

The speech therapist mainly works with young children (3 to 5 years old) and we mainly work with 18 year olds and older. And because the approaches to the stuttering of a 3 year old and the 18 year old are so different, people got a complete view on stuttering.

Before the show the speech therapist told us about parents being more frightened by the occurrence of stuttering in their child than the child itself.

And this is so recognizable. I’d like to talk more about this.

Within their approach there lies a big emphasis on calming down the environment of the child, because the way they (parents, family, friends, school) handle the stuttering of the child has a huge impact.

Also, in their approach stuttering is seen as a timing disorder. As that might be the case for a young child, we say that is not the main issue when dealing with an older person who stutters.

We find that when PWS reach a certain age this timing issue might already be gone and that the PWS is trapped in a pattern. He or she basically is being brainwashed into believing in the stuttering and expecting to do so.

A negative self-image, negative thoughts and feelings about stuttering and oneself plus stuttering behavior all creates this full belief in being a ‘stutterer’. And it begins with how people around the kid handle the stuttering and how this is interpreted by the child.


It all starts in childhood where the parents are more frightened by the stuttering than the child itself!

What is the child going to think? That nothing is wrong?!

Of course not, kids are very aware of the behavior of their parents. They have to because they learn from their role models (also known as older and wiser people).

When people go about the kid’s stuttering so anxiously, stuttering easily becomes seen as something ‘not right, ‘wrong’ and ‘something that may not happen’.

Even speech therapy can emphasize this worry. Because now the kid has to be sent somewhere in order to ‘fix’ a ‘problem’.

The kid might even get bullied, or teased about stuttering. Or laughed at, and it might not even be with bad intentions but the kid might interpret it as just that.

Downward spiral

When this happens, chances are the kid falls into a downward spiral.

A downward spiral in which emotions and thoughts start influencing a young child. Beliefs that are created of not being good enough, of being worthless and in need of fixing before he or she is normal again.

It completely influences the self-image, self-esteem and the way they go about interacting with others.

Shame arises, anxiety, fear of speaking, all those things develop because the kid sees stuttering as something inherently wrong.

Kids learn fast and are all just as smart as the next one: move away from pain, move towards pleasure.

If stuttering means pain, be it physical or mental, you will not move towards it. You will do everything to hide it, to pretend as if nothing is wrong. Which usually leads to social anxiety and more behavior that supports stuttering.

Is this the case with every person who stutters?

No, absolutely not. The host himself never worried about his stuttering at all. He told about how he never saw stuttering as a problem and that he grew out of it.

You can see how powerful a positive attitude is. What it can do for you.

The brainwash of stuttering

But every person who still stutters that we talk to, has so much more issues with their self-image, thoughts and emotions than they’re having with ‘timing’. Most of them can speak very fluent when they’re by themselves, when they read a book or something similar.

But when it comes down to social situations they freeze up.

And that is because they are in a stutter pattern. They are in the habit of stuttering so to say.

This is called chronic stuttering, it’s something completely different from what kids experience.

A negative self-image surrounds most PWS. Expectations and assumptions are created in childhood. This influences their thoughts and emotions which on their turn influence the behavior and the actual stuttering.

Years and years go by and stuttering is right along there with you. You now might get an idea of what that can do to you.

Stuttering is everywhere

Stuttering is everywhere: in your thoughts, feelings and your doings.

It all feels so completely real. You fully believe in yourself being a person who stutters.

You too are guilty of having negative expectations for certain words and social situations. You expect to stutter at those times because you have experienced it in the past.

These negative experiences become so ingrained into your whole system, the mental and the physical, that it becomes difficult to break out of.

You wake up with it and you go to bed with it.

When you speak it’s there, when you think it’s there and when you feel it’s there, even up to feeling of being trapped by your stuttering because stuttering created so much tension in your musculature.

This is what we call a brainwash. We call it the stutter programming and it’s complete craziness when you fully understand this.

It has almost nothing to do with the speech development issues a young child has anymore. This has everything to do with your view on yourself and on the world around you.

How to deal with this type of stuttering

When stuttering is everywhere, you have to look everywhere in order to get rid of it. You cannot look for this one technique or trick that is going to save you, because it won’t.

We hear it way too often: I tried yoga but it didn’t work, I tried a speaking technique but it didn’t work, I tried reading out loud but it didn’t work.

You can’t pick one thing to get rid of something that has been going on for years. Stuttering has full control over everything you feel, think and say. And therefore you have to fully get back in control of those things.

How you can get back in control

Get back in control by changing subtle behaviors. Look someone in the eyes when you’re talking to each other. Walk up straight, breathe into your belly and actively try to become more at ease with your environment.

Grab a book to read out loud, practice speaking when you’re by yourself and start your day with relaxation exercises.

Then find ways how to deal with your emotions, your ego and finally change your core belief.

Core belief

Your core belief is created in childhood. It’s probably something close to: I am not good enough.

This core belief is the creator of all the bullshit you’re going through. This is why you feel less than everyone, this is why you’re trying so hard to be fluent when you’re around others and this is why you keep stuttering.

When you read this, try to forget everything you ever learned about stuttering. That stuttering is because of your diaphragm not working properly, that is has to do with breathing, that it’s a timing disorder and especially that it is something you have to learn to live with.

We believe this to be false. But we also understand that it can feel like it is something you have to learn to live with because the stutter patterns are so deeply ingrained into you.

You too can get back in control

You can.

We’re not saying stuttering can, or should be, removed completely,

But not letting stuttering control your life is a very achievable goal, for you too.

And you have to start with seeing for what stuttering truly is: a program, a pattern you’re stuck in.

You can step out of it. Start today.


Thanks so much for taking the time to read it, it’s really appreciated.

Talk soon,



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9 thoughts on “Stuttering explained: a complete brainwash

  1. Hi Hille. I read your blog post with great interest. While I’m still on the fence as to whether or not everyone can get beyond stuttering (there’s so so much we simply don’t understand), I am very much in line with your message to parents. In fact I just posted your link on my FB group, Voice Unearthed, which is inspired by my book “Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help, and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter.” The most difficult situation for me is when a parent comes on saying that their young child, some as young as 3, are expressing frustration over getting stuck and not being able to get their words out — I am not a fan of the current mainstream methods of treating children who stutter, as I think it’s the parents who need the intervention – even in these cases. No easy answers!! But no matter what, our focus is on keeping them talking!!

    1. Hey Doreen! Great to hear from you. It is a bold claim, yes, I am very aware of that. What’s a blog without a bold claim? 😉 I do have the belief that everybody CAN become fluent, but that not everyone WILL. Because, to be honest, it needs the right mentality. It took me 20 years before I said to myself “no more of this” and I started working on it, hard.

      I’ll look up the Wake-Up Call, read it and see if we can promote it somewhere on the website.

  2. Hille!! Hello!! I am so excited about your article, I could almost jump over the moon!! (I read it on the FB site Voice Unearthed.) I am a 50-yo female who has had a life filled with everything you describe. My stuttering isn’t really too bad any more; however, I still struggle with blocking (those nasty stuttering patterns) and fear of speaking/social anxiety. I absolutely love what you’ve written here and I agree with every bit of it. I think I will print out your article, if I am able, to reread every now and then as I continue on my journey of building myself back up and becoming who I was truly meant to be. Thank you so much, Hille, for writing such a wonderful, easy-to-understand article!!!

  3. Great article Hille. Think you mentioned some great things there. I myself was send to a speech therapist from the age of 4, whilst I had no clue as to why I sat there every week. I stumbled on words and talked way too fast. Just primair stuttering or stumbling…but it developed rapidly in chronic stuttering since I started to feel different. Stuttering is created through this process. You feel different, you feel less and you get ashamed. This leads to an anxiety problem that triggers irrational thoughts. We should stop with making kids feel different and stop with helping them to speak more fluent. They are incredible fluent speakers but that have an axiety problem that should be dealt with. Parens should be thaught how to cope with this, by teaching them how to lean their kids that stuttering is oke and that they should not feel ashamed.

    1. Thanks Michael! I had exactly the same experience and I agree with you that parents need to be very involved too. Teachers could use some instructions as well. Although it is not achievable to control the whole environment of a child, there’s a lot that could be improved.

  4. You’re so right Hille; chronic stuttering can be prevented. Not by logopodie in young children, but the right provide information to parents and teachers. There would be more attention to in the media for example.

    1. Great Dora! Children who start stuttering need both the right support from their environment and professional help from a speech therapist. The combination of those two things is very important.

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