Stuttering: A Short History of a Curious Disorder

By Marcel E. Wingate | Go to book overview

PART III
"MODERN TIMES"

CHAPTER 6
A Decade of Formative Transition

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, IV, 3, 217

The fourth decade of the twentieth century brought considerable changes in the circumstances and conditions influencing the developing discipline of speech and hearing science, and especially the field of stuttering. The broad cultural trends of previous years had already made themselves felt. Other influences were emerging, some from preceding circumstances, others newly precipitated, particularly from distressing and threatening major contemporary events: the great economic depression in the United States and the impending disaster in Europe. These events bestirred an intellectual climate charged with a yearning to find ways to improve human affairs.

The promise embodied in environmentalism, the belief that appropriate control of external events affords a means for changing human behavior through shaping of the individual persona, was most encouraging. However, the molding of personalities takes a long time. There remained a need for some more immediate influence, one that was perhaps even more directly manageable. An apparent answer to this pressing need came in the form of an emphasis on the importance of attitudes and ways of thinking. Central to this emphasis was a focus on how the use of language affects one's view of the world and how one deals with it. A burgeoning movement of the mid-1930s, general semantics, had as its central claim that careless, improper word usage was not only intimately involved in human problems but a substantial cause of

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