Cayce Health Database
OVERVIEW OF STUTTERING
Stuttering can be described as a
disturbance in the flow or rhythm of connected speech. It is
usually characterized by repetitions of syllables (e.g., buh-buh-balloon),
prolongations of certain sounds (e.g., fffffeather), and occasional
cessation of airflow (i.e., air ceases to flow through the vocal folds
and the vocal folds cease vibrating; thus, no sound is produced).
In advanced cases of stuttering certain secondary phenomena occur.
Extreme tension in the musculature of the vocal folds, tongue, lips
and face cause "struggle behavior" - grimaces, tics, head jerks, etc.
Most stutterers develop fear of certain words or speaking situations
as well, and try to avoid these.
For centuries the cause and treatment of stuttering
has puzzled both stutterers themselves and those who have attempted to
treat them. Of all the speech disorders, stuttering is both the
most researched and the most baffling. In the last 50 years particularly,
medical and paramedical journals have been filled with scientific studies
and case histories. As a result, vast amounts of facts about the
physical dimensions of stuttering have been collected. However,
the knowledge gathered has not resulted in any consensus regarding the
etiology or treatment of stuttering.
There are literally hundreds of theories about the
cause of stuttering - each theory is supported by some research, and each
has generated a specific treatment approach. However, these theories
can be grouped into four ma or categories:
- The organicity theory. This group of theories has been most
prevalent throughout the ages. Basically it states that dysfluency
is due to some physical defect in the stutterer. Since connected
speech requires intricate timing and coordination of many simultaneous
movements (including action of the lungs, vocal folds and surrounding
musculature, soft palate, tongue, and lips), a breakdown in the function
of any one of these can disrupt the rhythm of speech. Virtually
every organ involved in speech production has, at one time or another,
been viewed as the defective one-including a "frozen" tongue, enlarged
tonsils, specific nervous dysfunction and brain lesions. In
light of the information contained in the readings of Edgar Cayce,
one theory - that of Seeman (1934) - is particularly interesting.
Seeman felt that the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system
became hyperactive due to emotional stress or lack of inhibition from
the cortex. This "oversupply" of energy produced a disturbance
in all the fundamental processes upon which speech is based.
- Neurosis theory. After Freud's time it became fashionable
to view stuttering as the result of some deep-seated emotional or
psychological problem. According to this specific school of
thought, stutterers were felt to be "stuck" at the oral or anal level
of emotional development, or experiencing deeply inadequate personal
relationships. At present, many therapists still view stutterers
as being basically neurotic.
- Learning theory. Historically many observers have viewed
stuttering as a bad habit. Research in the '60s showed that
approximately 80% of all preschool children go through a brief period
of "normal non-fluency," which can easily be confused with stuttering.
According to learning theorists, this non-fluency can be turned into
stuttering by the reactions of the child's parents, friends, teachers,
etc. The child learns to fear speaking because of others' reactions,
and this fear disrupts the intricate coordination pattern required
for fluent speech, resulting in increased dysfluency.
- Disturbed auditory feedback theory. We all rely on sensory
feedback to monitor our speech. If a person is deprived of kinesthetic
(sense of touch) feedback by local anesthesia of the palate, his speech
becomes slurred. If auditory feedback is delayed (by use of
a tape recorder with a delay built into it), normal speakers suffer
fluency breaks very similar to those produced in stuttering.
This has led to the theory that stuttering is due to some distortion
in the auditory feedback system used to monitor speech.
Each school of thought has produced methods of treatment
related to supposed etiology. Organicity theorists suggest treatment
of the underlying physical defect - ranging from wine to unfreeze the
tongue, to removal of the tonsils, to training the central nervous system
through patterned exercise. Adherents of the neurosis school of
thought use psychoanalysis, group therapy, and systematic desensitization
to overcome non-fluency. Learning theorists try to change parental
reactions to the young stutterer and extinguish specific stuttering behaviors.
Other therapists try to mask disturbed auditory feedback with "white noise"
or further delay the feedback. (When stutterers are placed on delayed
feedback their fluency improves.)
Edgar Cayce gave readings for 10 individuals who regarded
themselves, or were regarded by their parents, as stutterers. However,
two of these individuals,  and , were told that their problem
was not one of stuttering; rather it was a difficulty in choosing the
appropriate words, or in putting thoughts into words. (These are language
formulation problems, not the motor speech difficulty seen in stuttering.)
A 21-year-old, , was told in a life reading that his stammering
- as indeed any situation - could be dealt with "if [the body] trusts
in the ideal manner. Not in self ... but in Him..." (3245-1)
These three readings have not been included in the
Circulating File. Also excluded was a reading for a two-year-old,
, in whom stuttering was secondary to a major illness. Very
little information was given about the stuttering, other than a statement
that her speech would improve as her general condition improved.
A recommendation was given for spinal massage.
Of the remaining six cases, only three had stuttering
as their primary problem - ,  and ; of these, only 
had follow-up readings about the stuttering. In the remaining three
cases stuttering was a relatively minor problem of overall disturbed body
function. A 33-year-old, , was presented with vertigo, imbalances
in the blood, problems with the spleen and liver, a lesion of the cardiac
plexus, and problems with the digestive system. A five-year-old,
, had a disfiguring skin condition due to disturbances in the glandular
functions (specifically, the thyroid and adrenals), unbalanced body salts,
nervous system incoordination due to subluxations of dorsal six and seven,
and a lesion in the coccyx. For a nine-year-old, , stuttering
was secondary to blindness in one eye and a disturbance of kidney functioning.
In these three cases treatments for the conditions must be separated from
treatment specifically recommended for stuttering.
I. Physiological Considerations
According to the readings, the "sense of speech is
the highest developed vibration in an organism," for it depends upon input
from all the other senses and thus is heavily dependent upon the coordination
forces in the body. These "coordinating forces" include sympathetic
nervous system (which is linked to the unconscious mind or imaginative
body), the cerebrosp:inal nervous system, and the neurological connections,
which "register impulse in [the] brain." (146-1) In other words,
fluent clear speech depends upon coordination of impulses from both the
sympathetic nervous system and the cerebrospinal nervous system.
When specifically asked what causes stuttering, Cayce
responded: "The connections for the auditory as well as the vocal forces
of the body derive their impulse from the 3rd cervical, as well as the
3rd, 4th and 5th dorsal.
"Hence it is necessary ... to reduce ... those tendencies
of the body to oversupply energies to the vocal cords.. ." (1788-13)
According to the reading, subluxations of these vertebrae, which produce
pressure on the nerve, can cause nervous system incoordination, leading
to disturbance in auditory functioning (ranging from a buzzing or humming
in the cars to deafness) and vocal functioning (including stuttering,
mutism and "unclear speech"). Other readings present
disturbances in the spinal ganglia as causative factors in language disorders
(some of which may resemble suttering, but appear to be related more to
word retrieval problems).
These six readings clearly implicate pressures and
subluxations in the upper dorsal and cervical areas as the causes of stuttering.
In five cases stuttering was specifically linked to a problem in the upper
dorsal region. The third dorsal was always involved and the fourth
and fifth dorsal were frequently involved. Problems with the second
dorsal are mentioned in two readings. In a sixth case, , no
specific problem in the upper dorsal was pinpointed. However, an
osteopathic coordination of the upper dorsal and cervical vertebrae was
advised once the corrections suggested for specific lower dorsal vertebrae
had been made. (The subluxations in the lower dorsal were related to the
child's glandular deficiency, not stuttering.)
In three cases the readings specifically mentioned
the third cervical vertebra as a causative factor. In a fourth case
pressure along the cervicals was mentioned; and, of course,  was
told to have an osteopathic coordination of the cervical vertebrae along
with the dorsal.
In two cases the overt stuttering was accompanied
by a humming or buzzing in the ears. In another case the subluxations
had caused an unspecified "deflection" in the auditory force; this was
presented as a causative factor in the stuttering. In a fourth case
an auditory perceptual problem was noted; the child had normally acute
hearing, but there was a slowness in perceiving and reacting to auditory
stimuli. Therefore, in a total of six cases, four had some specific
problem with hearing.
In three cases the spinal problems had caused a hindering
or slowing of blood circulation through the affected areas (throat, larynx,
tonsils and adenoids) - and in one case blood had accumulated in these
areas. Poor eliminations was a contributing factor in three cases.
In summary, then, the material in the readings falls
primarily into two of the common theories on the etiology of stuttering.
Clearly the speech problem is organically based, as it is caused by subluxations
or pressures in the spinal column which "prevent[s] the normal flow, the
normal impulse, the normal nerve activity through the bronchi, through
the throat, through the vocal box, through the organs of the head and
throat." (605-2) Another reading further defines the lack of normal flow
as including an "oversupply [of] energies to the vocal cords. . ." (1788-13)
In addition, the readings support the theory that disturbances in auditory
perception are a causative factor.  clearly had delayed auditory
feedback, while  had a "deflection in the auditory forces - which
is indicated in the speaking voice." (2015-8) Two other cases had "head
noises" - a humming or buzzing in the ears - which may have affected auditory
perception. Concerning the learning theories, one set of parents
was advised, "Do not curb or make the body aware, by anxiety, of too much
difference of opinion." (1788-13)  was told to "be mindful
that the body overcomes that tendency of becoming frustrated; and this
lisping and stammering will disappear." (605-3) Clearly the readings indicated
that anxiety and frustration cause stuttering to worsen.
II. Rationale of Therapy
The primary treatment, recommended in every case,
was osteopathic or chiropractic adjustment of the affected portion of
the spine. Most frequently a regular series of adjustments was advised;
e.g., two or three a week for several weeks.  was advised to have
more intensive treatments, as the dorsal subluxations were particularly
difficult to correct. For the three youngest children (including
, whose reading is not included in the file), spinal massage with
peanut oil was also recommended - preferably on a daily basis. Massage
throughout the dorsal and cervical areas was also recommended for [6051.
(Please note that the type of massage recommended for  was specifically
related to her skin condition, not stuttering.)
In many readings, attitudinal factors were considered
almost as important as physical corrections.  was told that "in meeting
these [conditions], there must be made first in the mental body that determination
that it will carry on in normal activity ... that the hindrances will
be removed ... [for] without the activity of the mental body ... even
with the [osteopathic] changes, these would only make for partial corrections."
She was also told to be "careful - painfully careful - in being mindful
of the expression. . ." (605-1) Two years later, when she had a recurrence
of stuttering (due to having an incomplete series of treatments), 
was advised to be mindful of frustration. 's parents were told to
foster an attitude of expectancy regarding the positive results of the
therapy: "Do keep the body (though young as yet [41/2] ... ) acquainted
with that being done, and why, and the expectancy the body may have with
the use of the treatments suggested." (1788-13)
Because the third and fourth dorsal have neurological
connections to the digestive organs, three of the six cases had problems
with overacidity or poor eliminations. For two of these cases an
alkaline-reacting diet was recommended, with the further recommendation
for one child of the use of Glyco-Thymoline to purify the alimentary canal.
In two other cases a general body-building diet was recommended.
Other recommendations for treatment are to be found
in these six readings. However, most of these are specifically related
to a condition other than stuttering; e.g., Atomidine doses and use of
the wet cell appliance were recommended for  to overcome her glandular
deficiencies. [991 was given a prescription to correct the imbalances
between white and red blood cells; deep electrical vibration therapy was
also suggested. Various other forms of electrical therapy were recommended,
but only one appears to be related to the stuttering problems: [6051 was
advised to have diathermy to coordinate nerve impulses to improve blood
circulation through the throat and head.
In summary, osteopathic or chiropractic adjustments
sufficient to obtain a permanent realignment of the dorsal and cervical
vertebrae were the primary recommendations. Attitude was also very
important in achieving fluent speech. An alkaline-reacting diet
was often recommended; the readings generally presented this diet as the
optimal diet for good health as well. Other therapies appeared to
be specific to other conditions and were not recommended for stutterers
A word of caution: The readings for  warned against
giving only partial adjustments (i.e., not having enough adjustments to
ensure lasting spinal realignment). Apparently  did not have
a sufficient number of adjustments and her stuttering symptoms recurred
with greater severity two years later.
[Note: The preceding overview was written by Lesley Laraby Boykin, DSPA,
CCC-SP and is excerpted from the Physician's Reference Notebook,
Copyright © 1968 by the Edgar Cayce Foundation, Virginia Beach, VA.]
Note: The above information is not intended for self-diagnosis
or self-treatment. Please consult a qualified health care professional
for assistance in applying the information contained in the Cayce Health