1996 Stutt-L Archive of discussion between Martin Schwartz and others

John Swaney and Tony Troiano extracted the public files of discussion between Martin Schwartz and several others from the 9/18/96 - 9/20/96 archives of Stutt-L. They are printed below as submitted with the permission of the list owner, Woody Starkweather. You can search what various discussants contributed by using the "find" function on your browser and typing in the last name. The discussants included: Cynthia Scace, Martin Schwartz, and Tony Troiano

From: Martin Schwartz

In 1976 I wrote a book entitled the riddle of stuttering solved. It was a response to a book published many years earlier called the riddle of stuttering. When the book was published, the title was shortened to stuttering solved. I objected to this because I felt it did not reflect my original intent, but such decisions could be made unilaterally by the publisher and they were. Several members of ASHA were offended by the title and wrote me a letter indicating their displeasure. That was it; there was never a censure nor any proceedings to initiate a censure.

With respect to the concept of cure. It is clear to me that changing stuttering behavior is so difficult that people are particularly sensitive about the issue - and so anyone offering the possibility of a successful solution to their problem is automatically considered as offering a cure - with all of the pejorative feelings associated with that word. Let me state that, at the moment, there is no cure. What I typically say at workshops is that " Individuals have the potential to stutter; I can show them how not to express that potential, and with a great deal of guided practice, it is possible not to express that potential routinely. I believe that that way of thinking is in line with reality."

With respect to other programs. Please note that I come from a classical training in speech pathology. I used techniques espoused by Johnson, VanRiper, Wingate, Bloodstein, etc. But I was never satisfied with these. Also there didn't seem to be a satisfactory model to account for the behavior. I, like many questioning speech pathologists, was disheartened about what was available to treat these individuals and, like many speech pathologists, refused to treat them. But then I moved from the clinical field to the area of speech science. I began to read widely, particularly in the area of respiration physiology and exercise physiology. I began to learn about facts that seemed to bear upon an understanding of stuttering.

These were facts that were not generally know in the speech path field. A new model emerged for me; a model that seemed to account for the behavior. That model is expressed in my website. A multidimensioinal therapy was devised based on that model. I approached promininent individuals in the field of speech path with that model. I offered to have them observe what I did with patients. The result was always a flat rejection. It was as if they were committed to their ways and felt categorically that I could offer them nothing of value. It has remained that way largely to this day.

From: Tony Troiano

Some questions:

1. How are the intricacies and subtleties of your technique "taught" correctly in the course of one weekend? Correct me if I am mistaken, but I believe this is the extent of your "hands on" involvement with your patients.

2. Are ten to fifteen PWS treated at the same time during the course of this weekend?

3. Do the subsequent mailings of cassette tapes to a therapist (who the patient never meets) serve as a reliable source of therapy after the introductory weekend of training? Are the therapists who receive these cassettes able to give an accurate evaluation of the patient and give proper advice without benefit of visual aid?

4. Are therapists always available to answer calls via the hotline number provided by NCS? One time I called the NCS hotline telephone number during a particularly troublesome speaking episode and was greeted by a secretary who informed me no therapist was available in the office and then proceeded to tell me "what I was doing wrong when applying technique". I received no follow-up call.

5. I am uncertain of your definition of "being censored" by ASHA. Correct me if I am mistaken, but isn't it true that you were forced to give up your ASHA membership back in the late 1970's when you would or could not supply empirical evidence to support the "airway dialation reflex" theory of causation. Is this theory not the foundation that supports your program?

6. NCS advertises in publications such as New York Magazine and claims a 93.4% success rate. What factors are taken into account to justify this figure? Is this number defined by long term results from a broad selection of past patients or a select few? Are past patients routinely checked on for updated evaluations regarding fluency? What is NCS's definition of the word success?

7. If NCS has indeed attained such a high level of success, why aren't there an army of NCS trained professionals to aid stuttering children in the public school system? Schoolchildren at long last would be provided relief from this terrible condition called stuttering! -------
Hopefully I will receive responses to these questions that may clear up "the general tendency toward misinformation".

--Tony Troiano--

From: Martin Schwartz

Mr. Troiano seems to be on a personal crusade. Since he was once a patient, I am not privileged to share with you the episodes in his personal life which caused him to drop out of my program. It's a pity, because he was doing quite well up until the point he either decided or was forced to quit.

Now to the answers to his questions:

1. They are.
2. Between 8 and 12
3. Yes and yes.
4. By appointment, as usual.
5. The answers are no and no. You simply have not read my last two books or website.
6. Again, read Stutter No More, my last book; it's all there.
7. There are.

9/19/96 From: Cynthia Scace

To the Group,

I have read both Tony's questions about the NCS and Martin's answers. Since I went through the NCS program myself I can speak from my own experience.

During the weekend program I FELT as though Martin made no attempt to make a human connection with anyone in the group. It all seemed very cold and inpersonal. There were at least two of us who had been through PFS at Hollins and we were put down when we used exagerated targets during the NCS training. "All you need is my technique...", Martin said. The whole thing just FELT bad!

When I got home and started doing my homework into a tape recorder to send off into the ozone, it FELT even worse. I stopped sending the tapes after a month or so and no one from NCS contacted me. No one from NCS has EVER contacted me since.

The NCS approach may or may not be valid... I don't know...but I do know that I didn't work for me because I didn't feel like I was being treated like a human being.

Cynthia Scace


From: Tony Troiano

Despite your perception of me I am not on a personal crusade nor do I have an agenda. The sole reason for my posting regarding the NCS program is to get valid questions answered. Indeed, my reply to your previous post is comprised of nothing but questions. Unfortunately, judging from your answers I have failed. As you know, these net mailing lists serve as a venue for exchanging ideas and information. Your reluctance to give more than one or two word answers and to direct people to your web page or purchase your books for information seems very self serving to me. Consider the possibility that some on this list may not have web access or wish to purchase your books.

The reason I voluntarily dropped out of the NCS program was an obvious one - the program simply did very little for me. I attended NCS support groups regularly for over one year and witnessed other "alumni" experiencing similiar difficulties in maintaining consistent fluency. I find your cloak-and-dagger reference about my personal life amusing. Very J. Edgar Hooverish.

Lest you think that I am totally negative about NCS there were some aspects of the program I enjoyed and found beneficial. Education and demonstration about stuttering towards non PWS was a concept I learned at NCS and found helpful. I still have the button you handed out to the group which reads "I am an expert on stuttering - Ask me any Question". I like it better than the NSP button.

--A Kinder and Gentler Tony Troiano--

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