Thursday, March 02, 2006


The other day I read an interesting blog comparing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and stuttering. This really interested me as I actually started college as a Psychology major, but switched to Accounting when I realized that was where all of the hot girls were. But I digress.

I believe the greatest benefit that I derived from my therapy at the PFSP at the EVMS in Norfolk has not necessarily been the degree of fluency by itself, but in the power I have over the role of stuttering in my life and the fact that stuttering is no longer this huge obstacle I have to confront in every activity of life. The fluency shaping tools I have learned in therapy have allowed me to redirect the focus I previously had to put towards dealing with my stuttering into other areas of my life.

Let me lead you through an example of what I mean: I was about halfway through my undergraduate courses in college when I went through the PFSP. Before I went to the PFSP, every class I took, the first question I had would be “do I have to give an oral presentation?” For the next few months, that would be the central focus I had in that class – “how was I going to get through this oral presentation – would it take me a normal length of time to finish, or would it take me 15 minutes to say my name?” After going through therapy at the PFSP, I never gave oral presentations much thought – usually, just writing down a few key words and phrases to mention. I knew that with targets, I might not be 100% fluent, but I ultimately had control over how much I did, or did not, stutter.
This newfound ability I had to give oral presentations served me well as I progressed through classes in undergrad and then, finally, on to graduate school where I earned my MBA. Instead of having to waste time focusing on getting through another oral presentation, my focus was on the content of the class itself.

My point is that my understanding of what Abraham Maslow was trying to say was that you can’t be self-actualized if you are forced to expend all of your focus on basic life activities (which fall at the bottom of his pyramid). I would consider the act of speaking in a relatively fluent and efficient manner a bottom of the pyramid activity.

1 comment:

Dorkydad said...

Reading about the hell of stuttering has had me very cognizant and thankful for my clear (or if subsequent word is offensive, strike it and insert appropriate and non-offensive term, since that is my intent) speech. Wednesday night I found myself at a bar in San Francisco and was ordering drinks from a bartender wearing a Braves jersey, so I thought about you. In that moment it hit me--that must have sucked being in college ordering drinks from a bar. And I'm sure that's one of many things that sucked.