Ethics and Orphans: The 'Monster Study'
June 10, 2001 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Ethics and Orphans: The 'Monster Study'
Looking back at a 1930's experiment about 'stuttering' and the lives it ruined.
posted by thunder (7 comments total)
oh my god, I wish the ole man was alive. He was an orphan, born in 1933 and he stuttered until age 10. (One reason i picked Clavdivs as a handle) This is incredible, he was put through a ringer by teachers(plus being a leftie) which caused anxiety. back then, alot of orphans were 'let out' to work on farms. basically slavery in a ways. Father called it laissez-faire emotionalism. It was hit or miss whether you'd get a good person who took you in. One woman in Washington State(good souls there) treated him good, took him to Hawaii in 1941 to visit his foster brother. This was in early december. Strangely after pearl harbor, he started to loose the stuttering through home schooling.(He thought it was the 'Betty' that buzzed the house at about 300ft) He once was beaten so bad, he couldnt move for a week. The goodness of these bad stories was that he never perpetuated these things unto his children. In a ways, he was the strongest person i knew. Im gonna go cry. In a ways i hope this post stays empty...i like it here. Thank you. Best post for me so far.
posted by clavdivs at 6:27 PM on June 10, 2001

Wow. Great link.
posted by MattD at 6:29 PM on June 10, 2001

The article doesn't really make clear what a large figure Wendell Johnson cuts in the field of speech pathology. The speech pathology building at Iowa is the Wendell Johnson building, for example; and it was Johnson, a psychologist by training, who created the speech pathology program there, the world's first.

A wonderfully manipulative and well-done article; it's amazing.
At least our nazi doctors have remorse. Or the nazi doctors' assistants.
posted by mitchel at 7:39 PM on June 10, 2001

(poor babies)
posted by rebeccablood at 8:15 PM on June 10, 2001

I had a severe stutter growing up and gradually lost most of it half way through grade school. I still remember being called 'Porky Pig' and 'Er,er, eric' in school and all the anxiety it caused when it came to reading aloud in class.

My parents tried to be understanding, but the one time my mother yelled at me to 'Just stop it!' is still a very clear memory, while all the times they were patient have faded away.

I recall earlier studies trying to connect left handedness (which I am) to an increased chance at speech impediments, so this article was informative with it's other theories. I too started developing an interest in jokes and humor around the time the stuttering first took a turn for the better. Perhaps the timing and wording required of jokes and the positive reward they earn are enough to make you try harder.

Although the stutter is virtually gone, I still have anxiety over reciting unfamiliar words aloud and often develop a 'lock jaw' where I physically can't pronounce the word I want to use and must choose a similar word - much like the cartoon character I was compared to.

I feel awful for these adults - to have stuttering forced on you is a torture few fully can understand. I'm grateful I had the fortune to control it to an unnoticeable condition.
posted by irishcreme at 8:43 AM on June 11, 2001

i was kicked out of speech therapy in 3rd grade. Still have lots of words i can't say aloud...every sentence i say is well thought out, crafted to allow me to say it clearly. My trick was always accents...i do fine when singing or faking an accent.

People think i'm articulate, but it is hard work.

reparations of some kind need to be made to those people. horrible. horribly irresponsible.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:08 PM on June 12, 2001

this makes me wonder how much different schooling would be for kids if they were all treated as gifted, talented individuals.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:11 PM on June 12, 2001

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