The presenter of this paper has consented to have a personal email address
posted here if you wish raise further questions and/or comments. Contact Andreas Starke at 

Purposes of VS

From: Jon Bashor
Date: 10/1/99
Time: 10:14:48 AM
Remote Name:


Here are a couple of my reasons for using VS. 1) repeated simulation of stuttering on "feared" words/sounds using an
appropriate block modifying technique increases the odds that I'll be able to stay calm enough in a real situation to use the
technique. 2) using VS early in a conversation reminds me that I'm not trying to hide my stuttering and gives me an
opportunity to gauge what my listener's reaction is going to be if I involuntarily stutter. Does this sound valid to you ? 

Re: Purposes of VS

From: Andreas Starke
Date: 10/1/99
Time: 1:55:48 PM
Remote Name:


Dear Jon: 

yes, both reasons sound valid, very valid. When I wrote the article I already suspected that I may miss some varieties of
Voluntary Stuttering in terms of when, how and why. Now this discussion may be very beneficial for me and others to
"complete the list". Here some specifics: 

1. Feared words. Yes, if you have word fears it is an excellent method to handle them the way you describe it. Thank

2. Implicit advertising by Voluntary Stuttering. When I started to work at my own severe stuttering 25 years ago I was
instructed to advertise my stuttering by verbally explaining what my problem is and and how I would be going to handle
it. Today for my taste this appears to be too intrusive to do with every person I speak. I prefer to use what may be termed
"implicit adversizing", showing some stuttering, demonstrating one or two beautiful pull-outs (very very useful at the
beginning of public speaking). That's what I also recommend to my clients. This, of course, does not should exclude or
limit the possibility to discuss stuttering in general and your own stuttering whenever and with whomever (Is this
English? I'm sorry) you feel it is appropriate. 


Desensitization Phase

From: Rebecca Hubbling & Kelly Birken
Date: 10/7/99
Time: 4:19:23 PM
Remote Name:


We are students in the field of communication disorders and found your paper to be extremely interesting and helpful!
You stated much of the desentization phase is done by "creating an environment for the client in which the simultaneous
occurrence of stuttering and negative emotion is unlikey or even impossible." Do you have any specific suggestions as to
how to do this?

Re: Desensitization Phase

From: Andreas Starke
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 6:54:33 AM
Remote Name:


Dear Rebecca, dear Kelly, 

thank you for you for your encouranging comments about my presentation. Your question made me think about writing
another one on desesitization in Van Riper's therapy program. 

As for now I can only tell you that the desensitization work is highly individualized in my therapy program. The idea is
always the same: Let stuttering (or something that is close to stuttering, i.e. voluntary stuttering) happen WHILE the
stutterer is calm or experiences a reduction of being upset, of being negativly aroused, of being fearful, of feeling
pressure etc. What can you actually do? There are two ways. 

1. Start with the state of calmness. One possibility is to let the client remember moments in his life where he was
particularily calm and happy. Have him re-experience this situation very vividly and talk about it in all detail, and then let
him stutter harder and harder while trying to maintain the state of calmness and happiness. Other possibilities to start with
the state of calmness is relaxation or pleasant body movements like stretching. 

2. Start with stuttering. The client is to catch a moment of real stuttering and to keep it going while the therapist talks to
him about being calm, or lets him do things that can shift his emotional state in the direction to calmness. 

You can watch these kinds of activities carried out very well on Van Riper's demonstration therapy tapes "Therapy in
Action" with his client Jeff. 

This is all I can write without going into a detailed discussion. Hope it helps. If not write again. 

Andreas Starke 

P.S. Don't forget humour. Van Riper: "Humour and negative emotion can't sleep in the same bed."

Cognitive Element in Voluntary Stuttering

From: Gunars K. Neiders
Date: 10/11/99
Time: 7:39:54 PM
Remote Name:



Thank you for an interesting analysis of the various uses of voluntary stuttering. 

For me personally voluntary stuttering has been more meaningful when I used it together with cognitive work. For
example, I try to monitor my self-talk from time to time to see how I build or lessen cognitive stress in a certain speaking
situation. I take the extreme view that for a cognitively practiced person who stutters, the external stress, the stress which
would drive lesser persons up the wall, does not have to equal the internal stress. I adapt Eleanor Rooseveldt's dictum,
"Nobody can insult me, if I don't cooperate" to say "No outside circumstance can stress me, if I do not cooperate, i.e.
believe that it can stress me." Going one more layer deeper into what I mean: Outside situations can evoke feelings of
anxiety in me only if I cooperate. 

There are two types of feelings of anxiety, ego-anxiety and discomfort anxiety. Ego anxiety is based on belief that my
failure to perform up to a certain standard makes me less worthy or valuable an individual than somebody who surpasses
this standard. Discomfort anxiety is based on the wrongheaded belief that I will not be able to stand something. That if I
stutter, the situation will become "AWFUL". Voluntary stuttering then is a scientific experiment which I use over and
over again to prove to myself that a) I do not turn into a louse if I stutter and b) that I can stand to stutter quite well, thank
you. By monitoring my self-talk, I can quite frequently talk myself out of any interanlization of stress in most of the
situations. In some situations I do all three: a) I monitor my self-talk, b) I show myself that I don't become a lesser person
just because I stutter, and c) I go into the situation time and again to desensitize as much as I can. As Walt Manning says,
I overlearn desensitization using both a) rational self-talk (a la Rational Emotive Behavior Training), b) voluntary
stuttering, and c) exposing myself to situations which formerly caused me grief. 


Re: Cognitive Element in Voluntary Stuttering

From: Andreas Starke
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 7:35:46 AM
Remote Name:


Dear Gunars, 

I agree with most of what you write. 

In the 70s Albert Ellis was also very popular in Germany, and it was through his work that I began to read about stoic
thinking which has had a lasting effect on my life. However, during my stay in the US (1980-82) I came to think that
stuttering is better understood as a disorder of movement (think of Gerald Zimmermann's famous article - Stuttering a
Disorder of Movement) than as a disorder that is "caused" by detrimental (irrational) beliefs. I know that many people

Still, rational thinking and arguing has of course its place in my therapy, especially when it comes to make judgements
about the reality of the stutterer's life as a speaker. But the changes of the belief system of my clients is produced by
testing reality and experimenting, and this appears more effective to me than debating alone. 

Andreas Starke 

P.S. How do you know that you don't turn into a louse when you stutter? What's the criterion?

The indispensability of BOTH action and reflection

From: Gunars K. Neiders
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 1:34:53 PM
Remote Name:



Thank you for your prompt and gracious answer. 

It appears to me that we both advocate the same thing ALL THREE of the following: a) disputing (I can understand where
in translation from German you could call it "arguing") any irrational thoughts we have about our stuttering, b) doing
action oriented exercises, AND c) monitoring self-talk. 

Unlike Van Riper who did not understand REBT at all and thought that disputing the irrational ideas was what the
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy was all about, I see that we both know that REBT is the most action oriented of the
cognitive psychotherapies. Clients are assigned ACTION oriented homework every single session. Voluntary stuttering,
cancellations, pullouts, as well as other general anti-shame exercises are indispensable. Discriminating and disputing of
actively collected self-talk from outside homework assignments, is the other thing that is done, but it is NEVER DONE
without action assignments. Pure conversation without gathering the evidence is NOT appropriate. Rarely, if ever, is
action (e.g. voluntary stuttering) from discussion of the self-talk and consequent emotions. 

You graciously asked me to provide an example of therapy in action (getting empirical evidence that one does not turn into
a louse). I am glad to oblige. 

Example of voluntary stuttering assignment a la REBT: 

When the client arrives the therapist asks to take a walk with him in the neighborhood. He states that he will demonstrate
voluntary stuttering, a technique advocated by Joe Sheehan, Charles Van Riper, and Wendell Johnson. 

They are about to pass a person on the sidewalk when the therapist steps slightly in front of the oncoming person, keeps
good eye contact and says, "Pa-pa-pa-pardon me. C-c-c-c-c-c-could you tell me what ti-ti-time is it?" 

After the conversation ends the therapist notes down a couple things in his notebook. Then asks the client how he would
have felt if it were he who had done the talking. The client usually comes up with a phrase or two in the vernacular
(common speech, local idiom, his personal favorite expression). It is here where the therapist obtains the term "louse" or
any other term such as "jerk" or "fool" or sometimes a vulgar expression. That is, the client usually says "(1) I would feel
like a louse. (2) A real jerk." "(3) I just could not stand it." "(4) It would be awful." 

Now, after an ACTION, the therapist asks the client to use the ABCDE paradigm. [Activating Event at A x (together with)
Belief B = (causes) Consequent Emotions at C] [when the Belief is Disputed at D more Effective and Efficient beliefs are
formed, E] This is usually done in a written form at the start, but then as the client becomes more adept at it he can do it
orally. [Activating Event A x (together with) Belief = (causes) Consequent Emotions] 

Therapist (T): What would have been your Consequent emotions before you started? Client ( C): Anxiety T: What was the
A, the activating event? C: Approaching the stranger. T: What would be your beliefs? C: As you wrote down, "If I stutter
"(1) I would feel like a louse. (2) A real jerk." "(3) I just could not stand it." "(4) It would be awful." T: Are these
rational? C: No T: Why aren't they rational? C: Because as you taught me I asked the question: Where is the empirical
evidence? T: Empirical evidence of what? C: That I am a louse! T: What criterion did you use? C: Of course, I could
answer the obvious, that I am still a human being, not a louse! J But I really meant I am not a jerk, a lesser person, a
worthless person. T: And how do you know that you are not a jerk, a lesser person, a worthless person? C: Because I
would have been the same person whether I went into the situation as you did or not. I don't see you turning into a louse,
or becoming a jerk. (smiles) T: But would I have not had a higher self-esteem if I would not have stuttered? C: You taught
us not to rate ourselves. You practically banged it in our heads in the first few days that unconditional self-acceptance is a
better way to approach life and life's situations. T: But do you believe that you don't become a better person after a
situation where you don't stutter and that you don't become a worse person when you do stutter? C: (Laughing), Well I
don't see you as better or worse person just because you stuttered. (In a more serious tone.) I know that I sometimes still
"down" [in American vernacular se say we put ourselves down or "down" ourselves when we evaluate ourselves
negatively] myself when I stutter or when I don't carry out my homework assignments, but I talk myself out of it in short
order. I am I. I am a fallible human being, and that is all I will ever be, a fallible human being. I may have some traits I
dislike about myself, such as stuttering. But I no longer think of it in black and white terms. I know that minimal
stuttering does not cause me any real grief, IF I don't demand perfection. T: You are right. Never "down" yourself, no
matter what you do or don't do. What are the other two questions you could have used in disputing your irrational belief
that you are a louse or a jerk if you stutter? C: Is it logical for me to define myself a louse or jerk if I stutter? How does it
help me if I define myself as a louse of jerk if I stutter? T: And what are your answers? C: No, of course, it is illogical to
say that anybody who stutters is a louse or a jerk! It is plain silly to define myself as a louse or a jerk if I stutter, it does
not help me at all. T: What will you assign yourself to do next week until we meet again? C: Every day I will go in five
situations and stutter voluntarily. I will monitor my self-talk and dispute my irrational self talk. I will come back with at
least 3 written out ABCDE sheets. T: Did it help you that I demonstrated voluntary stuttering to you and that we went over
the ABC? C: Sure did. T; So let me see you do some voluntary stuttering right now. You see that girl approaching us.
Ask her where University Hall is? Remember voluntary stuttering!!!! É C: Wh-wh-where iiiiiis the University HÉ.hall
(real block)? É T: Good work. Look at yourself. C: (puzzled) Why? T: I just wanted to ask you to verify that you hadn't
become a louse or a jerk. Exit both laughing. (laughter is a good release of the tension) 

Note: Both the client's terminology and his ability to think more or less abstractly has to be taken into account when
Action followed by Disputation is used. The rule is never, NEVER get away from action oriented homework and as long
as there are feelings of anxiety or shame about stuttering, keep on challenging the irrational ideas behind them. Likewise,
just as soon as possible have the client determine his own homework. This way more commitment is gained. 

I hope this answers your question. Some things can be defined only operationally. Looking forward to seeing you at the
stuttering conference next year in Europe. 


Voluntary Stuttering in Triads

From: Darrell Dodge
Date: 10/13/99
Time: 12:35:43 AM
Remote Name:


Hi Andreas: 

Your paper is absolutely excellent -- one of the finest summaries of the modification therapy process I've ever seen. I also
appreciate your focus on the "loss of control experience," the "petit mort" experience, and the notion that stuttering
involves an inhibition of speech. These concepts are key to understanding stuttering and, from my experience, are
extremely important to include in adolescent, teen, and adult treatment programs. The process you've described is what
excites me about becoming a stuttering therapist. 

One of the more useful ways I've found to work with voluntary stuttering in the treatment room is to use "Triads:"
sequential productions of the same word using 1) voluntary stuttering (preferably turning "real"), 2) modified "high
stimulus" (proprioceptive) speech, and 3) spontaneously fluent utterances. You'll note that these essentially parallel the
"three modes of speech" that you discuss in the stabilization phase. 

This sequential activity may not be appropriate for all clients, but the types of productions can be tailored for individuals,
and I've found it extremely useful for those who are in the stabilization phase and are experiencing a lot of success, but
who tend to find that old habits (or Van Riper's "gaps") are creeping into their speech. These can start triggering some
residual stuttering that is making speech a chore again. 

The process of triggering and then going through the sequential process of erasing real stuttering can be extremely
confidence-building, particularly when the first production ends with a pull-out or some other modification technique. 

It is also very therapeutic for the client and clinician to take turns doing triads -- on different words. This provides a good
model and it can actually be a lot of fun to have a contest coming up with difficult stuttering words (like "resuscitate.") 

Thanks again for your great work. 


- Darrell Dodge

Re: Voluntary Stuttering in Triads

From: Andreas Starke
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 8:41:54 AM
Remote Name:


Dear Darrell, 

thank you for your very positive response. 

Yes, it is very important for all of our clients (with the exception of the very young) to develop a systematic understanding
of the stuttering phenomenon, one that is closely related to the actual stuttering experience and one that opens ways for
progress. This systematic understanding makes some sense, even when the very nature of it's elements lay still in the

I often thought about writing an article with the title: "How would I treat stuttering if I knew almost nothing about it?"
This would be a description of a fluency shaping technique. There, the only thing you have to know is that stuttering
disappears when the stutterer uses a style of speaking that is different enough from his spontaneous way of speaking. 

As we (at least we stutterers) all know that there are things like "stuttering anticipation", "loss of control experience", "le
petit mort" it appears almost fraudulent (I can only hope that this is the right word) to ignore them. We may not know
what they really are, and still we know much about how to work with them in order to overcome the stuttering handicap.
(For example, for me it is still not clear whether "le petit mort" is an integral part of the stuttering event or a certain class
of stuttering events, or whether it is "only" a concomitant phenomenon of exertion / effort / strain / struggle (German:
Anstrengung). I have had experiences of a similar state when pumping iron or pushing a car uphill.) 

Regarding your triads I occasionally have clients who at the end of therapy are very fixated to the idea of making sure that
every detail of the speech movement is done correctly. They need encouragement to just speak spontaneously without
trying anything at all. For them using triads maybe especially helpful as an experience in "uncontrolling". 

I hope we can meet sometime. Are you planning to come to the International Fluency Association 3rd Congress in
Denmark next year? Please do. "A splendid time is guaranteed for all." 

Andreas Starke

Re: Voluntary Stuttering in Triads

From: Darrell Dodge
Date: 10/20/99
Time: 2:16:06 AM
Remote Name:


Hi Andreas: 

Thanks much for your thoughtful response. The best thing about the behaviors/phenomena of stuttering is that simply
being aware of them is often enough. I used to think that I'd need to completely understand stuttering before recovery
would be possible. The biggest surprise for me has been that a lot of the increased ease of speaking just happened. In
fact, trusting in that seemingly unsubstantial process was one of the most difficult aspects of therapy for me. Meanwhile,
a lot of the ideas I had about stuttering have gone by the wayside as I've revised (I hesitate to say "improved") my
understanding. Some of the things I thought seem hysterical to me now, in fact. But the process of inquiry itself has been
the most valuable thing. The attitude that stuttering was something I could inquire about and examine and theorize about
totally changed it for me. Of course, voluntary stuttering is an important part of that process. 

Your comment about "le petit mort" is interesting. You experience it during non-speaking activities involving exertion. I
experience it myself sometimes when I'm signing credit card receipts in front of store clerks who are checking with their
eyes back and forth between the card and receipt to make sure I'm not a forger. (You have to see my scrawled and
inconsistent signature to know how ridiculous this would be.) Is this generalization? Is it part of the stuttering
predisposition? Is it neurological? Is it learned behavior? All valid questions, and maybe the answer to all is "yes" or

I would love to attend the Congress next year and the prospect of finally meeting you (after reading and admiring your
comments on the lists for several years) makes it more likely that I'll get there. 

Best regards, 

- Darrell Dodge

Voluntary stuttering, and a bit more

From: Steve Hood
Date: 10/20/99
Time: 3:11:38 PM
Remote Name:



Regarding the comments in your paper, and the thoughtful follow-up posts, I am in agreement. 

Voluntary stuttering accomplishes a trememdous things, both behaviorally, **AND** emotionally. Volunatry stuttering
can be helpful in the areas of identification, desensitization, modification and stabilization (to use Van's model) BOTH
emotionally and behaviorally. I think that too many people, unfortunately, do not see this important component of
attachking **BOTH** the emotional and the behaviors. 

I have some assignments that I have my students do, and these assignments are given to help normally fluent students get
at least a small taste of this. I am pleased when this on an outcome for the students. 

Let me go on, however, and say that for people who are doing the Van Riperian form of 'modification therapy' there are
also cancellations. Cancellations, like voluntaru stuttering, have benefits in terms of **BOTH** emotional and behavioral
coping.... Going back to the "scene of the crime" and saying the word again (not fluently, but with modification.) Or as
Van says in the video with jeff, "returning, like a dog, back to the vommit." I think the combination of voluntary
stuttering and cancellations are powerful, and important to successful therapy. 

I also think, particularly during stabilization and maintenance, it is important to do some voluntary stuttering. These need
not be overly severe or frequent, but need to be enough to provide a buffer zone: some continued desensitization,
advertising, etc... to face the "petit mort" of the past. 

THANKS --- Thanks for sharing. 

Steve Hood

It's a resource

From: Andreas Starke
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 9:45:38 AM
Remote Name:


Dear Steve, 

thank you for your friendly comment. 

I would like to add that I donÕt think that voluntary stuttering and cancellations can be considered to belong to the same
class of therapeutic activities. 

Cancellation is a well-defined procedure which is used in Van RiperÕs program (as I understand it) in one particular place
in the course of therapy for one (thatÕs arguable, perhaps two or maybe three) particular purposes. In my view it is the
most powerful method of starting the reprogramming process that is designed for replacing the "old" stuttering reactions
by a new reaction that is optimal in the sense I tried to explained in my article. This optimal stuttering reaction that we call
"pull-out" then improves and stabilizes the motor set for fluent speech as a by-product. Cancellations are hard to do for
the beginner, for many they take everything the client has to his command in terms of courage and dexterity (IÕm not sure
if this is the right word, please guess). And they require patience both from the client and the therapist. DonÕt try pull-outs
too early, reprogramming takes time. IÕm glad to say that in my group therapy (12 clients, 2 therapist) virtually every
client learns to cancel and uses cancellations at least for some time. And there is hope. If a client is disciplined and
practices enough he only has to cancel for a limited period of time, lets say two month, and then occasionally get back to
them when needed. 

Voluntary stuttering in this sense is a whole set of procedures that I use in all phases of therapy in different ways and for
different purposes. That is what I wanted to explain in the article. Voluntary stuttering is not a well-defined procedure but
a resource that you can use for designing all kinds of procedures. In my view the question whether I use voluntary
stuttering when employing a "local approach" (that attacks the stuttering event directly as opposed to the "global
approach" where the way of speaking is changed altogether in order to get stutter-free speech) is as meaningful as the
question whether I breathe or keep my eyes open when doing therapy. Of course I do! I feel that it is this spirit of
self-evidence or obviousness that makes it easy for our clients. But they have to have good reasons (donÕt we all?). 

Andreas Starke 

P.S. Steve, please remember that you belong to my personal Hall of Fame for editing the book To the Stutterer / German:
An einen Stotterer (Stuttering Foundation of America). I donÕt think that there is one other single book in the world that
has helped so many of our fellow-stutterers.

Re: It's a resource

From: Steve Hood
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 3:57:38 PM
Remote Name:


Andreas -- Thank you for your follow up comments. 

WOOPS !!!! I didn't mean to imply that voluntary stuttering and cancellations should necessarily be considered in the
"same class" of therapeutic activities. Sorry if my earlier response implied this. 

I was trying to extend what you said, just a bit. Voluntary stuttering, as you well explained, covers many bases, and
covering these bases is a helpful prerequisite for cancellations and pull-outs. People who cannot do some voluntary
stuttering will most certainly have difficulty to the modification techniques of pull-outs and proprioceptive monitoring. 

I think this is why Van suggested TEACHING them in the order of: cancellations --> pullouts --> preparatory sets (a.k.a.
proprioceptive monitoring/high stimulus speech.) And, to do these cancellations, pull-outs and prep-sets, the PWS is well
advised to be proficient with voluntary stuttering. 

So -- while I don't necessarily see voluntary stuttering as necessarily being in the same class as cancellations, I do see
these as being at least fiarly closely related. 

Steve Hood 

p.s.-- Thanks for your nice comment onAn Einen Stotterer. I had fun and learned a lot by editing it. The follow up book,
published 25 years later, is entitled: ADVICE TO THOSE WHO STUTTER. I believe that translations into languages
other than English are being planned, but do not know the details. 

Article 13

From: Hazel Camagong
Date: 10/20/99
Time: 5:40:59 PM
Remote Name:


I am a graduate student at the University of South Alabama. Immediately reading the title, Voluntary Stuttering, I knew I
had to read the article. Several assignments in our fluency class are to practice different types of stuttering (prolongations,
cancellations, etc.) in public. We have to stop and ask people for directions using moments of stuttering and the list goes
on! I absolutely dread it. In undergraduate, we had to stutter and observe the reactions of other people. I procrastinated
the assignment until I finally got the nerve to do it. Why do I find it so hard? I fear the reaction of what other people think
and how they will act toward me. Another assignment is to do a disfluency analysis in Van Ripers third stage. I can't
believe how hard I am making this assignment. I thought it would be so easy, and now that the assignment is due soon, I
have postponed it! You know, after I attempt these assignments I will be so relieved. It may not be that bad after all!

Re: Article 13 or rather Article 12

From: Andreas Starke
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 4:18:04 AM
Remote Name:


Dear Hazel, 

thank you for your post. It is article 12 by the way, I posted my answer to ãDesensitization" twice by mistake. 

I notice that you didn't ask any question. You just complain how difficult your assignment is. 

So I may answer questions that you didnÕt even ask (remember, there are no silly questions, but many, many silly

What would make it easier for you to practice stuttering in public? 

1. Do it with a friend (classmate or not). That's a rule of life: Two people are more courageous than one. Just before
making your first attempt, explain the assignment to her and how you plan to proceed. If you try to explain something to
others, you are at the same time explaining it to yourself. If it makes sense to you it will be easier to do. 

2. Start with ãlittle stutterings" (short prolongations, few repetitions), then gradually increase the length resp. the number
of cycles. Finally add some secondary behaviors (e.g. head jerk, eye closure etc.) You will notice that people donÕt react
at all when you start with ãlittle stutterings". With more severe forms they may. Perhaps they smile, look away, talk slow
or loud when answering, sometimes they will ignore you... Nothing that's going to kill you. 

3. Read Gunar NeiderÕs article "The indispensability of BOTH action and reflection" in this discussions. It is fits your
situation quite well. 

You write: ãYou know, after I attempt these assignments I will be so relieved. It may not be that bad after all!" 

How is that supposed to help? If you want to daydream, picture yourself doing the assignment (stuttering in public), but
donÕt dream about how you would feel having done it. 

If you have questions, write again. 

Good stuttering! Andreas


From: Shanon Hodges
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 5:53:56 PM
Remote Name:


Dear Andreas, Is voluntary stuttering mainly to calm yourself down so that you will feel in control of your stuttering???
Shanon Mobile, Alabama

Practice change by stuttering voluntarily

From: Andreas Starke
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 6:36:43 PM
Remote Name:


Dear Shanon: 

I have written a long article with the intention to explain when, how and why one can use voluntary stuttering. But if you
ask what voluntary stuttering is MAINLY used for, you are probably right. 

See, that is what most people who stutter complain about, the feeling of being helpless, of being unable to stop it and
even to do anything about it. So over time the feel of stuttering and the feeling of being helpless become almost the same. 

Now, if you experiment with stuttering voluntarily for instance by imitating a block, you may find that with the same (or
almost the same) feeling in your mouth and throat and chest and stomach you are not helpless. You can let go, you can
slow down, you can continue to make the movements that are required for speech. And this helps you to overcome your

So voluntary stuttering may calm you down and strengthen your confidence, because it may lead to the powerful
experience that you can change your stuttering while it is happening. If you call this control, the experience of being able
to interfere with what's going wrong, okay. 

Voluntary stuttering alone may not be enough. Eventually you have to change your real blocks. But you can use it in
order to get some experience how to go about it. 

Good stuttering! 


P.S. Do you stutter? Are you in therapy right now? This discussion will be over tomorrow. If you want to write to me
you may do it directly. Here's my address:


From: Shanon Hodges
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 6:02:15 PM
Remote Name:


Dear Andreas, How do you convince a young person who stutters to voluntary stutter?? Shanon Mobile, Alabama

Convincing a young person

From: Andreas Starke
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 7:06:39 PM
Remote Name:


Dear Shannon, 

how do I convince a young person to stutter voluntarily? How young? I'd start with 10 year olds, sometimes even with 8
year olds. There is no fixed limit. With younger children I don't even talk about voluntary stuttering. 

I would say about what I wrote in my first reply to you. (Actually I thought you were a child being prompted by her
therapist to write to me.) 

Don't make a big deal out of it. "First, I tell you what to do. Second, I convince you. Third, you do it." That's not the
way it works. I know that some people don't like the term, but I often feel I have to SEDUCE a client who is helpless and
hopeless to try something that he never thought about. And as we know from other fields of seduction, curiosity helps.
Make your young client curious, this is an adventure, a voyage of discovery. While I'm writing this I come to the
conclusion that convincing is for adults. 

Does this help? 


Blank moments

Date: 10/21/99
Time: 10:32:36 PM
Remote Name:



Thank you for a very interesting paper. I am particularly interested in your observations on the "petite mort" phenomenon.
(A friend who is a native speaker of French reminded me that 'mort' is a feminine word!) Like you, I suspect that it is the
core event of the phenomenon of stuttering. I've been working on getting a systematic description of it for about a year,
and will be writing up my data as my MA thesis during the coming months. 

I have a few questions. Do all of your clients report a "petite mort" moment? If some don't, which would not surprise me,
is there any other perceptible difference in their stuttering behaviors, their hierarchies of feard words and situations,
suspected etiology, or their rate of treatment success? Is there a time during treatment when clients usually report
diminution or obliteration of the petite mort event, or do some retain it even as they shed other symptoms of stuttering? 

There may not be time to really answer these questions while the conference is up and running. If you can't, please
answer off-line. Insights such as yours can be very valuable. 

Lou Heite


From: Andreas Starke
Date: 10/22/99
Time: 2:05:38 AM
Remote Name:


Dear Lou: 

yes, I will comment on "la petite mort" phenomenon later. Our German annual stutterers' convention will begin today and
I'm about to leave for a 6-hours train trip from Hamburg to Munich. Two things in a hurry: 

1. Thanks for correcting my French. The death is feminine in French (as it is in Spanish - la muerte, in German it is
masculine - der Tod). Before writing about it I was suspicious and I searched the internet. I had many hits for "le petit
mort", but all American. I have to buy a French dictionary... 

2. Relating to the "core event of stuttering" I not sure whether is coincides with "la petite mort". As of now I suppose that
the core event is an error in the servo system that controls speech. The anticipation of stuttering may be a sensation of a
critical irregular state of the speech system (central and/or peripheral) in which the occurence of such errors is is very
probable. As I wrote in my reply to Darrell Dodge in this discussion "for me it is still not clear whether 'la petite mort' is
an integral part of the stuttering event or a certain class of stuttering events, or whether it is 'only' a concomitant
phenomenon of exertion / effort / strain / struggle (German: Anstrengung). I have had experiences of a similar state when
pumping iron or pushing a car uphill.)" 

3. In the internet I found that the expression "la petite mort" is used not for orgasm, but for the passing out / faintness
after orgasm. It makes some sense, but that is not very similar to what I experience when I stutter. What's different is the
direction - here tension, there relaxation. 


Wonderful paper!

From: Woody Starkweather
Date: 10/22/99
Time: 4:49:27 PM
Remote Name:


I don't imagine this will be posted because I am considerably past the deadline, but I hope so. 

Dr. Starke, your paper was so clear and elucidating of many of the often confusing aspects of VS that I will surely assign
it to my students. 

I have been using VS as an important aspect of my therapy for many years, and I continue to find new veins of gold to
mine. I hope that someday we can sit down and talk about this subject for an hour or two! 

Woody Starkweather