Ethics: A Case Study from Fluency

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Robert Goldfarb
Plural Publishing, 2006 - Medical - 216 pages
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By revisiting a controversial 1939 research study on stuttering, Robert Goldfarb, with a select group of scholars, engages in a much-needed discussion of great importance on ethics in the field of communication sciences. The book revolves around the master's thesis of University of Iowa graduate student Mary Tudor. Under the supervision of Wendell Johnson, Tudor conducted a study to test Johnson's diagnosogenic theory of stuttering. Tudor and Johnson examined the effect of verbal labeling on the frequency of disfluency in both stuttering and fluent children, drawn from an orphanage in Davenport, Iowa. Their findings--that they were allegedly able to induce stuttering in normally fluent children--supported their hypothesis but also raised serious ethical concerns. The Tudor study, as it has come to be known, provides a unique foundation from which to launch an examination of the present-day ethics of research, diagnosis and treatment in the field of communication sciences and disorders. Understanding the ethical issues in human research has often been informed by a consideration of historical material. From our twenty-first century perspective it is sometimes shocking to see how research was conducted in the past. Sometimes cases come to light in the media and spark a controversy that may not accurately reflect the conduct of that research not set the discourse in a manner that is constructive. At this time when our society has become very dubious of research it is essential that discussions of historical cases not be used to shut down legitimate inquiry and the development of knowledge that ultimately should improve the quality of life. This thought-provoking book is among the first inthe field of communication sciences and disorders to address the ethics of research, diagnosis, and treatment in the field. Students and clinicians both will find the accounts within this book engaging, stimulating, and ultimately relevant to clinical and research practices today.

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