Knotted Tongues: Stuttering in History and the Quest for a Cure

Front Cover
Simon & Schuster, 1995 - Health & Fitness - 240 pages
Two and a half million Americans - fifty-five million people worldwide - stutter. Though their baffling malady has been subjected to endless analysis for over 2,500 years, most endure it without hope of a cure. The very anticipation of stuttering can dominate a victim's social and emotional life. If the majority suffer in anonymity, famous figures down through the ages - Moses, Charles I, Lewis Carroll, Henry James, W. Somerset Maugham, Winston Churchill, and Marilyn Monroe among them - have also known the isolation and trauma of living with knotted tongues. Indeed, Charles Dickens once aptly described stuttering as "a barrier by which the sufferer feels that the world without is separated from the world within". In this fascinating and original social history, which combines literary scholarship with historical research, Benson Bobrick explores one of the great conundrums of medical history, its impact on the lives of the afflicted, and the astonishing therapeutic practices it has spawned. Demosthenes was obliged to labor up steep inclines with lead plates strapped to his chest and to declaim over the roar of the ocean with pebbles in his mouth; one 16th-century Italian physician prescribed nosedrops combining beetroot and coriander to help "dehumidify" the brain; and a Native American tribe had stutterers spit through a hole in a board "to get the devil out of their throats". At one time or another, stuttering has been popularly traced to childhood trauma; sibling rivalry; suppressed anger; infantile sexual fixations; deformations of the tongue, lips, or jaw; chemical imbalance; strict upbringing; vicious habit; gui

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

KNOTTED TONGUES: Stuttering in History and the Quest for a Cure

User Review  -

A surprisingly entertaining essay on stuttering, chock full of hey-listen-to-this and did-you-ever-know-that anecdotes, plus, for sufferers, an account of a therapy that worked for the author. A ... Read full review

Knotted tongues: stuttering in history and the quest for a cure

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Bobrick (East of the Sun: The Epic Conquest and Tragic History of Siberia, LJ 9/15/92) brings to this book more than the talents of an accomplished historian. Like one percent of the world's ... Read full review



Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1995)

Benson Bobrick holds a doctorate in English & Comparative Literature from Columbia University & is the author of six previous books. He lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Bibliographic information