The Stuttering Iceberg

As a covert stutterer, the first ironic rule about stuttering is that you don’t talk about stuttering. The second is that you don’t ask around about it either.

So that’s where I found myself several years ago as I started to take notes on my stuttering. I wanted to write a book about it since there aren’t that many out there. It turns out that a lot of what I was doing was documenting the iceberg. It seems that everybody in the stuttering world already knows about the iceberg.

From Say.org:

Like an iceberg, the broader challenges and issues are often pushed so deep beneath the surface that they can no longer be seen by others. These added issues can include fear, confusion, denial, anger, shame, guilt, anxiety and other suppressed emotions and feelings.

One of the mantras in business that has really come on strong in the past few years is the idea of communication. That separate business units within a company shouldn’t be in “silos.” They should share best practices, communicate and improve the company as a whole.

Well, what if you don’t like communicating? What if you stutter when you talk? What if that leads you to just put your nose down and get on with it?

What if you don’t know what you don’t know — and there’s no Internet to tell you what you don’t know? I’ve been stuttering for 28 years and this is the first time I heard about the iceberg. Seriously. Nobody every said anything about it to me, and it’s been around for ages. Should I be upset at my therapists or parents for not knowing? I don’t think so. But my point is that today, with the Internet, and with so much capacity for sharing, there’s no longer an excuse for someone who stutters not to know.

Have I searched for stuttering information online before this? No, not really — that’s true, so that’s obviously on me. But at the same time, my friends and loved ones never offered anything up either. And what does that mean? It means they think that I have it together. They think that I’m only the tip of the iceberg. Just because it seems like someone who stutters isn’t terribly bothered by it, doesn’t hurt to have the conversation. There’s very likely a lot more going on than you think.

If that doesn’t make sense to you — why wouldn’t I want to find out more about it if the Internet is available — then well, go back to the top of this post and read the first and second ironic rules again.

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