Briefly considering the sociology of stuttering

Responding to a review of the recent movie The King’s Speech, a professor who struggled with stuttering quickly talks about the sociology of stuttering:

As a person who sometimes stutters and as the author of a doctoral dissertation (The Quest for Fluency, University of Toronto, 1977) and a half dozen or so publications on the sociology of stuttering, I was pleased to read the excellent articles by Tom Spears on the film The King’s Speech and on the stuttering management program at the Ottawa Regional Rehabilitation Centre. As scientists and speech therapists have noted, stuttering is a puzzling phenomenon, shaped by neurological and psychosocial factors, for which there is, technically speaking, no cure but which individuals can learn to manage successfully through a variety of strategies to achieve more relaxed, flowing speech. For some individuals, as they cease to struggle and become more comfortable in their own skin, stuttering may even virtually disappear as a problem; for others, neurological and psychosocial propensity may be so obdurate and self-defeating avoidance practices so stubbornly ingrained, that only strictly applied therapeutic speech techniques may provide modest improvements in fluency and comfort.

From this short letter, it sounds like anxiety and stigma can contribute to the issue of stuttering. Like many human concerns, a combination of individual and social factors can lead to challenges.

The ill effects on men of competing for a spouse

A study in the August issue of Demography found “guys who lived in areas where there was more competition for women wound up dying younger.” The findings were based on data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (a fantastic data source: “a long-term study of a random sample of 10,317 men and women who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957“) and Medicare and Social Security records.

According to the authors, there are multiple reasons why this might occur:

Perhaps the increased competition to find a wife made them feel more stress, which can have negative consequences for long-term health.

The men might have had to wait longer to get married, which could be bad for their health. A number of studies have shown that spouses (especially wives) play a role in contributing to one another’s health and survival.

In places where men outnumbered women, the men (on average) had to settle for what the researchers described as a “lower-quality spouse,” which could translate into less coddling and pampering from the wife and thus worse health.

This study is part of a growing body of research that suggest social factors, like the weight of our friends, have a profound influence on our well-being and lifespan.

Also: will the calculators of RealAge add this to their formula?