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Eder, M.D. (1929). The Problem of Stuttering: By John Maddison Fletcher, Ph.D. (Longmans, Green & Co. Pp. 362. Price 10 s. 6 d. net.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 10:474-475.

(1929). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 10:474-475

The Problem of Stuttering: By John Maddison Fletcher, Ph.D. (Longmans, Green & Co. Pp. 362. Price 10 s. 6 d. net.)

Review by:
M. D. Eder

The historico-critical chapters of Professor Fletcher's book will be endorsed by psycho-analysts. For the author as for the psycho-analyst stuttering is a psycho-neurosis and therefore a condition of social maladjustment. Less interesting is the author's suggestion of a new terminology: he proposes dysphemia (difficult speaking) for stuttering, paraphemia for mispronunciation and aphemia for disorders of speech due to organic brain defects or injuries. But stuttering or stammering seem sufficiently expressive of the special defect indicated, and those interested, whether as sufferers or would-be healers, will have to learn that it is not a defect due to teeth or tongue or brain-cells. A new terminology is really not wanted; indeed, stuttering is a far better term than most of the names with which the psychotherapist has to battle, e.g. psycho-neurosis, hysteria, dementia præcox. Professor Fletcher discusses at some length whether the physician, the psychologist or the educationist is best able to treat the stammering child. It is a problem in psycho-pathology and the obvious answer is that psychotherapists are the only fit and proper persons to treat such cases; whether they are physicians or not is quite immaterial. Speaking generally, good teachers must make bad analysts (and, of course, good analysts are equally unfitted to be good teachers).

Radical treatment must depend on the deep pathology of the trouble, and it is here that we part company with Professor Fletcher. He finds psycho-analysis inapplicable to stuttering; his knowledge of analysis in regard to stammering (derived largely it would seem from Appelt's book), is second hand, and incorrectly grasped at that. He regards the word-association test as part of the psycho-analytic technique, and then points out derisively that the very nature of the trouble should have taught the analysts how impossible this part of the technique must be. Professor Fletcher objects to Freud's sexual trauma theory, and is unaware that Freud long ago gave up this theory in its original form. He does not seem to understand that all psycho-neurotic disturbances are due to social maladjustments, but that the human being is a social animal from the moment of his birth.


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