From the Minnesota Speech and Hearing Association (MSHA) Newsletter, March 1967, an article by Ernest H. Henrikson, a Professor of Speech at the University of Minnesota, a friend and colleague of Dr. Bryng Bryngelson.


Every man is born into, lives in, and dies out of a number of environments. One of these is the physical. People of our day have been made acutely aware of this as man devises and lives in modified physical patterns while he orbits the earth in a space capsule, or projects his plans to reaching and living in the environment of the moon. Each man is also born into a symbolic environment, a part of which is the language which surrounds him and which he himself uses. This language, reported in writing, can help him explore the past; it can help him project his thinking into the future, even into the "beyond his future." The language pattern allows him to identify, and to integrate, to describe and to delineate. The same language pattern contains many of man's concepts, laws, standards of conduct, systems of philosophy and metaphysics, and the like.

In spite of all the positive factors which relate to man's linguistic environment, there are also present the possibilities for diverse and serious problems for the talking primate. Dr. Bryng Bryngelson, who will in the rest of this discussion be called Bryng because that is the name by which he is known to most people, has long been interested in, and concerned with, this phase of man's talking. Bryng has recognized that people, often from early childhood, are subjected to language-oriented concepts of propriety, morality, success and so forth. These concepts, according to Bryng, are often promulgated and perpetuated by persons and organizations that are "sick" and have a real interest in maintaining the existing pattern. Thus, the sick make sick and lead the sick. People make various kinds of adjustments to these sick patterns, some conforming to them and getting along fairly well; others becoming their victims. These adjustments may take various forms, according to Bryng, ranging from "emotional" problems of the general nature to specific speech difficulties such as stuttering.

Bryng believes in, and has long advocated and used, the linguistic pattern for therapeutic purposes. By expressing his feeling in a permissive environment, by sharing his problems with other people through language, by facing rather than avoiding (or attempting to avoid) his involvements, a person can be channeled into new directions through which he can work toward some resolution or at least some reduction of his difficulties. This may be called "psycho-talk therapy."

As all know who have talked with or read some of Bryng's previous work, he talks and writes in a very informal style, developing his point of view through progressive stages of exposition and persuasion. The whole discussion is interspersed with relevant quotations from other sources and with personal accounts taken from the many contacts Bryng has had with problem people and with whom he has shared psycho-talk therapy.

It would be far beyond this commentary to present any extended discussion of all the theories about how people get to be what they are and how their behavior may be modified, assuming such a modification seems desirable. Such an exposition would have to include everything from sin to Skinner. It would be difficult to overlook the linguistic environment. It would be difficult to deny the potential problems which may develop from perpetuation and indoctrination by certain types of linguistically-oriented concepts. And Bryng would, one may well assume, be quite willing to say that his book represents only one approach to what is obviously a most complex situation. Bryng probably would not want to be contentious about his particular orientation. But he might smile at the person who vehemently rejected his point of view, a smile which the negator would have to interpret for himself!

added January 26, 2006