Mmpi-2/a Assessed Personality Differences in People Who Do, and Do Not, Stutter

By Treon, Martin; Dempster, Lloyd et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, March 15, 2006 | Go to article overview

Mmpi-2/a Assessed Personality Differences in People Who Do, and Do Not, Stutter


Treon, Martin, Dempster, Lloyd, Blaesing, Karen, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2 and MMPI-A) was administered to 60 subjects who stutter (SWS) and to 60 matched subjects who do not stutter (SWNS). Computer scored results indicate a statistically significant (p = .017) greater average tendency toward psychosocial-emotional disorder in SWS than in SWNS. Also, mean T-scores in 24 of the 93 scales/subscales assessed were statistically significantly higher for SWS than for SWNS, especially in personality characteristics related to schizophrenia, depression, healthy concerns-somatic complaints, psychasthenia, anxiety-fearfulness, and self-doubt/self-depreciation. Overall, these findings tend to support the tendency toward psychopathology (TTP) pole of the etiologic bipolar stuttering threshold hypothesis (Treon, 1995, 2002). In accord with this hypothesis, average MMPI-2/A T-scores for SWS were within the normal range of psychosocial-emotional functioning.

Keywords: stuttering, stutterers

This study was an attempt to empirically test a specific hypothesis (i.e., the tendency toward psychosocial-emotional disorder pole of the bipolar stuttering threshold hypothesis) in relation to its possible role in developmental stuttering etiology. By way of background, there exists a long and rich history of theory formulation and empirical study of possible etiologic, maintaining, and/or precipitating stuttering behavior factors dating from the early part of the twentieth century to the present time. This theoretic formulation and experimental research history and its etiologic implications for stuttering have been documented, reviewed and summarized by - among others - Bloodstein (1995), Conture (2001), Gregory (2003), Guitar (1998), Manning, (2001), and Silverman (2004). All of these authors, by either implication or direct assertion, appear to agree (with minor exceptions) that in relation to tendency toward psychosocialemotional disorder and personality profile, adult people who stutter (PWS) do not, on average, greatly (if at all) differ from adult people who do not stutter (PWNS). They also appear to be in general agreement that the preponderance of empirical evidence reviewed in their respective overviews suggests that, on average, PWS fall within the normal range of psychosocial-emotional functioning and adjustment, that is to say they do not - on average - have clinically defined neurotic, borderline, or psychotic psychopathology. However, Bloodstein, in his concluding remarks concerning the data he reviewed, sees justification for saying that at least adult PWS on average ". . . are not quite as well adjusted as are typical normal speakers." (p. 236), and tend to have lower self-esteem and greater risk aversion than do PWNS. In agreement with Bloodstein's comment above, Dahlstrom and Craven (1952), in a study using the original MMPI with one hundred matched college students who did - and did not - stutter, found that the stuttering students were, on average, slightly less well adjusted, and most resembled students who had applied for counseling with personal problems. Finally, the above six authors, by either implication or direct assertion, appear to agree that - overall - the empirical evidence relevant to psychosocial-emotional disorder (psychopathology) as a major factor in the etiology of stuttering is often contradictory, inconclusive and, in short, not substantially supported.

Psychosocial-emotional disorder is generally considered to emerge developmentally from an individual's primarily genetically based temperamentreactivity tendencies (Bates, 1989) interacting with his or her environmental, especially early environmental, experiences (American Psychiatric Association, 2000; National Institute of Mental Health, 2003). Over the past seventy-five or so years there have occurred many and varied formulations, speculations and hypotheses asserting a psychopathology role in stuttering etiology (Bloodstein, 1995; Van Riper, 1971). Many of the psychological factors presented in these formulations are broad conceptual variables that are not easily empirically defined and observed (e. …

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