arbitrary and indeterminate. Therefore, it is claimed, the accuracy and validity of any (or all) literary and historical sources is open to question--and therefore to repudiation. Happily, deconstruction, too, now seems to be collapsing of its own weight. Oteaders interested in this special subject should see Rapaport 1989; McCarthy 1991.)
The focus on words that became energized during the period of transition covered in this chapter brought many people to a fuller realization that, in most aspects of human relations, thoughtful choice and use of words merit serious consideration. However, the aura surrounding the novelty of the general semantics movement faded, its crusade-like proportions gradually wore thin, and the large following it had attracted fell away. At the same time, a core of individuals remained committed to its precepts and carried on undaunted. Among these were a few whom the movement had led to a position regarding the power of words that is not far removed from the quasi-magic belief manifested in certain forms of superstition, such as not speaking of some undesirable event for fear it may happen.
This claim about the power of words, in its full quasi-magic form, was soon installed as the essential substance of a widely influential and incredibly durable explanation of stuttering. This account, known as the "semantogenic theory" 30 of stuttering, created by Wendell Johnson, is the essential focus of Chapter 7. Use of the term "semantogenic" was another direct borrowing from Korzybski's general semantics.
Students of stuttering, at least, should find it of great interest that, within a few years of its heyday in the 1940s, the influence of general semantics, the movement that had hailed the supposed power of words, would surface once more. This time it would show up in sociological anthropology, in the form of Lemert ( 1951) concept of secondary deviance. The special relevance of this development for the history of stuttering is occasioned by the fact that Lemeres idea was based substantially on Johnson's claim of semantogenesis in stuttering. The unique set of events that led to Lemeres proposal of secondary deviance is described in Chapter 8.