Stuttering and Bullying

Social Interactions Terrify Me.

It can be overcome.

     While stuttering can be extremely embarrassing, it does not completely impede professional success as an adult. Researchers currently believe that stuttering is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, language development, environment, as well as brain structure and function[1]. Working together, these factors can influence the speech of a person who stutters. The country and western singer, Mel Tillis, had an extremely successful career. He would stutter when he spoke, but not when he would sing. In fact many entertainers had a problem with stuttering. As you already know from the above video, Julia Roberts, Joe Biden, and King George VI were able to deal with it. So did Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and James Earl Jones.

     Therapy can often help overcome stuttering. So do not let it control your life. You have the power to do something about it.

     A student at Pennsylvania State University wrote the following excerpt. Unfortunately, what he describes happens all too often.

Student’s Account:

Scared to even leave home.

     “I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have canceled plans with friends due to my crippling social anxiety. My friends have become accustomed to a text something like: “I’m so so sorry, but I really don’t feel up to going out tonight,” Followed by some excuse involving being too sick, too tired, getting called into work, or having too much homework. 

     But in reality, sometimes I just can’t bring myself to enter a situation where I have to interact with others. Especially situations like parties where I will have to meet and interact with large groups of new people. While I do feel very alone in this experience at the time, social anxiety is something that many people live with on a daily basis. My experience and the experiences of others can be understood using self-presentation theory.

Self-Presentation at work

     Even if I do get myself out the door to go to a party. I usually do one of 3 things in order to avoid interacting with others. First, if the person who threw the party has a pet, I will spend as much time as possible petting it and playing with it. Second, I will gravitate towards the snack table and stand there eating. Or third, I will stick to whoever I came to the party with like glue. Not once in my life have I attended a party alone. 

Absolutely terrified.

Then, the real nightmare begins when someone I don’t know begins talking to me. I am smiling on the outside, but inside my chest is tight from pure terror. I stumble as I speak in conversation. With my stuttering and running my words together. It makes me feel so lost in my head. I am worrying about saying the wrong thing, and making a bad impression. It’s not that I don’t like people—it’s that I’m afraid that people will not like me.

What is self-presentation?   

   My experience with social anxiety perfectly aligns with self-presentation theory as outlined in our textbook. Self-presentation theory defines two factors which must be present for a person to experience social anxiety (Schneider 2012). The first factor is high self-representational motivation. “Self-representational motivation refers to the degree to which people are concerned with how others perceive them” (Schneider 2012). 

Lack of “True” Self-confidence

     This concern with what others think definitely is relevant to myself. Since I was a child, I was always extremely concerned with what others thought of me—my friends, my teachers, new people that I met. I always feared that they wouldn’t like me. The second factor of self-presentation theory is low self-efficacy. 

No Self Efficacy

     “Social self-efficacy is defined as a person’s level of confidence in his or her ability to convey a particular image to another person” (Schneider 2012). If someone has low self-efficacy, it means that they have low self-confidence in their own ability to make a good impression. This is a quality that is very applicable to myself. I always describe myself as awkward. By that I mean that I perceive myself as not being very skilled in interacting socially, often causing my to embarrass myself.”

More famous people   

     Believe this or not, Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe also stuttered. Here is something that might make you feel better. Someone who stutters has an average IQ of 14 points higher than the average person. Yes, it is a difficult problem to have to overcome. But it can happen. So do not give up hope. You can live as normal a life as anyone else.