The StutterMind Protocol
StutterMind members are taught a Protocol for rewiring the brain for fluent speech that includes:
1) learning practical tools to avoid any stutter (developed by Michael Ferris, a life-long stutter who now speak fluently),
2) hearing volumes of the stutter’s own voice reading/singing/speaking aloud fluently, and
3) repeating positive Self-affirmations multiple times a day.
The StutterMind Protocol helps redirect the stutter’s speech sled down newly created fluent speaking pathways, quickly making the new “tracks” speedy and strong, and the old “tracks” less travelled and weaker.
The StutterMind Protocol Explained
(1) In 2000, Eric Kandel won the Nobel Prize for demonstrating synaptic plasticity: neurons that fire together, wire together. The more often they fire together, the stronger their connection. Now it is undisputed that the brain is plastic, malleable, capable of change. This is the biggest discovery about the brain in the past four hundred years.
(2) Neuroplasticity, which promotes change, can also lead to rigidity and repetition in the brain. The brain is plastic and perpetually altered by every encounter, interaction and thought.
The plastic brain is like a snowy hill in winter. Aspects of the hill – the slope, the rocks, the consistency of the snow – are, like our genes, a given. When we slide down on a sled, we can steer it and will end up at the bottom of the hill by following a path determined both by how we steer and the characteristics of the hill. Where we end up is hard to predict because there are so many factors in play.
But, what will definitely happen the second time you take the slope down is that you will more likely find yourself somewhere or another that is related to the path you took the first time. It won’t be exactly the path, but it will be closer to that one than any other. And if you spend your entire afternoon sledding down, walking up, sledding down, at the end you will have some paths that have been used a lot, some that have been used very little…and there will be tracks that you have created, and it is very difficult now to get out of those tracks. And those tracks are not genetically determined anymore.
The mental “tracks” that get laid down can lead to habits, good or bad. If we develop poor posture, it becomes hard to correct. If we develop good habits, they too become solidified. Is it possible, once “tracks” or neural pathways have been laid down, to get out of those paths and onto different ones? Yes, according to Juan Pascual-Leone, a developmental psychologist, but it is difficult because, once we have created these tracks, they become really speedy and very difficult at guiding the sled down the hill. To take a different path becomes increasingly difficult. A roadblock of some kind is necessary to help us change direction.
Pascual-Leone developed the use of roadblocks and showed that alterations of established pathways and massive plastic reorganizations can occur at unexpected speed.
He blindfolded people for five days, then mapped their brains with Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). He found that when he blocked out all light (the “roadblock”), the subjects “visual” cortices began to process the sense of touch coming from their hands. What was most astounding, however, was that the brain reorganized itself in just a few days. With brain scans Pascual-Leone showed that it could take a few as two days for the “visual” cortex to begin processing tactile and auditory signals. Pascual-Leone discovered that to develop a new pathway, you have to block or constrain its competitor, which is often the most commonly used pathway.
Creating New Neural Pathways
(3) Singing, chorus speech and chorus reading, shadowed speech (i.e., imitating speech of someone else immediately after hearing it), paced speech (i.e. speaking along with an external rhythm such as a metronome), and delayed auditory feedback (i.e., having altered feedback of one’s own speech production), and reading aloud when alone are known to boost fluency in individuals who stutter. (4) During the singing condition in which people who stutter were asked to sing a self-chosen song for ten minutes, the frequency of stuttering could be reduced by over 90%. The singing condition helps strengthen fluent speaking “tracks”. While weak at first, these new “tracks” can ultimately replace disfluent “tracks” as the dominant path.
(5) We have within us two individuals, the conscious Self whom we know or think we know, and behind him is a second individual that we may call the unconscious Self, or the sub-conscious of whom we take no notice. It is our unconscious being which runs us. When we learn how to run it, we learn to run ourselves.
Conscious use of this instrument is called Autosuggestion (or Self-affirmation). Self-affirmation is a very beneficial instrument when it is used well, properly. When it is used wrongly, badly, it can produce disasters (e.g. stuttering). The danger resides in the ignorance of the danger. When the danger is known, that is not so. Self-affirmations are very simple, yet very powerful instrument to guide our unconscious Self and stop stuttering.
The StutterMind Protocol
StutterMind members are taught a Protocol that rewires the brain for fluent speech. The StutterMind Protocol includes 1) learning practical tools to avoid any stutter (developed by Michael Ferris, a life-long stutter who now speak fluently), 2) hearing volumes of the stutter’s own voice reading/singing/speaking aloud fluently, and 3) repeating positive Self-affirmations multiple times a day. The StutterMind Protocol helps redirect the stutter’s speech sled down newly created fluent speaking pathways, quickly making the new “tracks” speedy and strong, and the old “tracks” less travelled and weaker.
While some benefits can be immediate, realizing full fluency typically takes several weeks to rewire disfluent speaking “tracks” created and used for years or even decades.
Credits / References
(1) Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, HarperCollins, 2020
(2) Norman Doidge, MD, The Brain That Changes Itself; Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (pp. 208-212), Penguin Books, 2007
(3) Frank Russo, Toronto Metropolitan University, PhD, The Routledge Companion to Interdisciplinary Studies in Singing (pp.50-60) November 2018
(4) Andrews G, Howie PM, Dozsa M, Guitar BE. Stuttering: speech pattern characteristics under fluency-inducing conditions. J Speech Hear Res. 1982 Jun; 25:208-16. PMID: 7120960
(5) Emile Couè, How to Practice Suggestion and Autosuggestion, New York American Library Service, 1923