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Yeah. That sounds like a beatnik poetry session getting under way Arnie. Well in a song like that John but it's really a speech correction session getting under way. Free exhibitionism is one of the first steps in releasing the restorations and paralyzed speak where minds meet and a series of explorations and human communication conducted by professors John Nelson of the Department of English Western Michigan University. While mines meat is produced and recorded by W-M UK under a grant from the National Association of educational broadcasters in a shrinking world where minds meet in words or not at all a man's speech is his most decisive act. And these discussions explore this world of speech they topic for today is very prose and word fear in speech. Here are professors frind and Nelson.
This is John freind and this is Ronald Nelson. And today John we want to explore a very complex and important area of communication. The part that emotion plays in speech and by emotion in speech Johnny you don't mean just the way people are able to express emotion with their voices the way speech can be made to convey emotion. But even more the emotion that lies behind the speech the hidden fears and anxieties that can cripple or completely frustrate successful communication. Yes and the effects of block emotion are not confined to those who go to speech correction clinics for aid. Everyone has experienced speech fear to some degree that as he has found himself in the grip of an emotion that serves no useful purpose and which arises without sufficient one. That's right and we should emphasize that the fear we're speaking of today is not the normal emotion we need to save our skins. Instead it's frequently groundless fear that blocks the growth of the self that blocks self understanding. Well we can say that it's capable of warping not only our speech but whole
personality right. Well Ani in order to highlight this distinction I'd like to play an example of emotion in speech when it's operating normally as it should. This is the voice of Herbert Morris and a news reporter describing the tragic destruction of the hidden brick dirigible at Lakers New Jersey in May of one thousand thirty seven Morrison was on the spot when it burst into flames just before morning. And I think our audience will note that the grief and horror reflected in his voice do not block his communication purpose. Instead they freely and eloquently express it listen to order. I could write and write and get out of bed when I get bored at standing right out of the note of it. Yeah yeah yeah that's it. Got it right. Oh I get out of the way I
played it back at my infamous and it got a point bad thought about but made a method about what that bad because the pilot the fate of the guy out there at that epic I played in battle but the folk at the lake and I play but right think that the crowd not right for the boy at all but rather that all that well that's certainly a dramatic example John of the capacity of the voice to express emotion and this is a common function of speech. A necessary one and a familiar one the lead we hear that. Frequently well although we don't ordinarily hear such sincere and deep emotion in news reports still in our personal lives emotional speech is rather common. Well Arnie Why is it that what we call speech Fear is such a problem for so many of us all of us to some extent. Well the difference I suppose is in the direction of the motion. As long as it's concerned
with something outside the cell we're able to communicate it. However when it's turned inward when we ourselves are the object of some intense emotion we frequently become afraid of the act of speech itself for speech reveals itself. And in this case reveals the thing that we feel so violently about. This then would explain ordinary stage fright. Yes everyone is afraid of his audience at least a little bit because while nobody is completely sure of himself so that everyone who has had to give a speech before an audience has felt the inhibiting effect of emotion to some extent yes. If we're not used to public speaking of the average person has to give a speech he finds his throat dry and his hands a little clammy his heart beating a little faster. He's generally tense but this doesn't mean that he will deliver an emotional speech. On the contrary in his speech in that kind of situation it is usually wooden and dull as monotonous. Everything in short that we associate with lack of emotion. Well Ani it's an interesting paradox that the quickest way for a person to release himself from the
effects of speech fear is to do or say the very things that he's most afraid of doing or saying if he knows that is what he doesn't want to reveal to his audience. He can overcome the effects of that fear simply by revealing it. No it isn't always that simple. You know one of my students once volunteered to put himself into a difficult speech situation for just this reason. He was afraid of appearing foolish as most of us are. So I asked him one day to break into a strange classroom and deliver a short speech and you gave him the topic too as I recall. Yes to raise money from his audience so they could go to Florida over spring vacation. Yes it was an odd speech I gave in this assignment on a slip of paper and I when I took the paper away and sent him into that room he was actually trembling. He was pale ready to back out if I had said the word. But after successfully facing the thing he had sought to avoid. Here's what he said I was wondering what the audience was going to look like and you know I don't know what their reaction would be but I figure that
just walking over there would be I would try to not really learn something about myself. The reactions of different groups from various groups are you know. But Dave was quite late I was. But it isn't a lot different than rich. White if you want America to pick their favorite. I don't because I think it's the favorite of everybody with no i don't have to do something yourself. They would think why is this happen this way I would look like I would just want to get up there and really want today asking for something and but Muniz What would you have any trouble getting permission to think of their own during their go or any as yours is and all I was doing is are a just man I knew something was going on that made it on that all the more easier and for in other words you were there immediately recognize that you were not there. Yes.
Or you were playing a role there was a gag and I was going to America. Sure if you're disappearing. Well everything in the tone of his voice indicates that he is now free of tension and he earned that freedom. He went into the situation with a definite goal. He saw this experience as an opportunity to come to an understanding of himself. Without that motivation it wouldn't have been a successful experience for him at all. Well I'd say that self understanding lies at the root of all successful speech. We can't be ignorant of ourselves and communicate successfully with others yet in a sense this is what many of us try to do. What happens is that our speech becomes a mask that we hide behind. In fact we frequently succeed in hiding from ourselves behind this mask and there are many many different masks that is many different kinds of speech tones of voice mannerisms and so forth. We put these on to cover up the emotion whatever it may be. Guilt hatred anxiety emotion that lies
beneath. And this means that listening to the speech of a person who was in the grip of some kind of emotion a mass were specially trained listening to the speech alone were frequently completely unconscious of any emotion present at all. And the speaker may not be conscious of it either. As a matter of for example the symptoms of the unconscious emotions sometimes appear even more unrelated to speech. I'm thinking now of headaches fainting and so forth. Sometimes it even goes as far as a writer's cramp where the communication in writing is blocked. In any case the speaker is often powerless to help himself out of his difficulty. Well I'd like at this point to play a striking example of this kind of deep emotional speech disturbance. In this case the condition persisted for several months. It's especially interesting because I think our audience will be able to detect the difficulty. It's so skillfully masked my cough. The speaker here is a minister delivering a sermon. He happened to record the service one Sunday so that the onset
of his speech difficulty in the very first occasion of it was preserved on tape. I like to play a short passage from it now asking our audience to listen carefully to see whether they can detect this difficulty. There was written of modern Western civilization into the realm of the unknown and without much hope for our culture and its possible. Character. With our theory to our calculation. That we can do our own charges against the coming.
Now that sounded as though he was simply troubled by something caught in his throat. Yes but as he said later he coughed in order to cover up a difficulty he had in articulation at certain points in his speech. He simply couldn't form the correct sounds. He said that his mouth seemed to tighten up. Well I believe I could detect a little bit of that before he coughed for the first time but only a slight bit. Well probably he was much more conscious of the impediment in articulation than his audience would have been. This is frequently the case yes. However once our audience shows that it is aware of our difficulty in speaking then the difficulty is exaggerated. That is when the audience communicates its discomfort its attention back to the speaker is the speaker then doubles and the difficulty increases. A vicious circle. Well this is a special problem with many stutterers. Yes the tension increases when he realizes that his audience is growing impatient and he senses rejection and hostility. But in the early
stages of stammering the speaker isn't aware of this tension especially if no one has rendered him over conscious of his stuttering. Well in this regard Arny I think the speech of the girl we'll hear next is especially interesting. She studies but it's apparent that she's not bothered by her study. Consequently I don't think our audience will be bothered by it either. Anyway that's a little too fast for a cab and ninety nine ways and like you doing good then yeah yeah yeah right OK. Well I didn't feel any strain whenever listening to her. She sounds like a happy go lucky teenager. Well there's nothing in her voice to indicate anything else. Her stuttering began when she was two in Holland during the Nazi bombing raids. But it's not developed beyond the primary stage. That is she is not afraid to talk because she's embarrassed by a starter.
Well I think this leads John to the major point of today's programme not the sounds of speech. The voice the articulation and so forth. Are far less important in communication than the personality and the self that lies behind the words. Well we've said that self understanding is necessary first successful speech. I think we can go further and say that all of these characteristics of speech reflect the self. A person cannot improve his speech or change a speech unless he is willing to change himself. Yes many speakers use a kind of oh a flawless speech. Words reflects the insecurity of the perfectionist doesn't have the courage to make a mistake. And yet it's only through mistakes that we learn that we are capable of growing or to put it another way. Everybody seeks self preservation but this must not mean an embalming process. The South must gamble if it's to grow right. If our instinct for self-preservation takes the form of overprotection the south may be smothered. Something that the perfectionist is in danger of doing or any person who continues to protect what he
knows is inadequate. He succeeds only in adding to its inadequacy. If he has to grow he must make the painful choice of revealing his own inadequacy. That's almost impossible John to indicate the difficulty involved in this choice and in the process of growth of the self that it leads to. But I think our audience can get some idea from the section of the selections that will play next. These are taken from a young man's experiences during two years of counseling. His deep emotional problems were mirrored in his speech and it was only through speech that he was able to discover his buried identity. And here in a brief selection from his first interview I think it can easily be seen that his speech difficulty is only a symptom or greater emotional problem. However I feel. Sure it will work. And everybody else thinks to herself. I guess it's.
Just about I guess everything I did or just feel like I. Know crack up when I try. I don't think it's original in you. You get the feeling when you're down. And you're sure that everybody I think think think wait. The way they do everybody else. Has to. Be. Crazy good there is something wrong with you can't. Kill anything right. Well. If we let it. Go. Like you. We will be like you know that you know. For sure. I think what's most noticeable here is the low opinion he has of himself and the way he feels that everyone else will guide him. He seems ready to give up. He doesn't see the sense in trying hard because it
only leads to 15 years in another section of this first interview he describes in detail the difficulties he has in speaking the ordeal that speech is for in a crowded field. So. We. All. Make up. Selfie that. No matter what you do you feel very deeply along the way. I get. Your opinion and. I. Don't. Know. And the hard to be. Like everything coming together at that very point where you have to. Think where.
They. Might. Talk you. To be. Fighting or deal I guess. Very. Hard my life. Well I think any our audience can see that this boy has two problems. His speech and his feelings his counselor is not a speech correction is not seeking just to correct his speech. Instead she's trying to lead him to an understanding of himself her most effective tool is the boy's own talk about himself. And this is a slow laborious process. Our next selection is from an interview or mark four months after he started. This is a weekly counseling process. Now there is a surprising change already in the sound of his voice the monotone that signaled his former frustration has now given way to an
emotionally charged intonation pattern. Yes. Now there are sudden bursts of emotion. He's now living out the tremendous stress of buried emotion. He's in a state of rapid change and he experiences physically the effects of the released energy. How would it help you. I think I drank what I wanted to be. My bread.
You know. John the change in that boy's voice is phenomenal and scarcely sounds like the same person but actually in spite of this dream he sounded was not was a fairly pleasant experience. Oh well in comparison to his former depression it must have been later on in the same interview he describes the joy of self-discovery even though as he says who he is finding out is not essentially pleasant. For instance he discovers that he's been using his speech to show aggression stuttering in order to hurt his listener. But he says he's joyful about it. I don't want.
War. Right from. Her. OK OK
OK. OK. Well everything about his speech here shows how much progress he has made in spite of the fact that he has given up the notion of making progress. Here again we can see the necessity of facing the thing we fear. One of his greatest fears was that he wouldn't make any progress. But as he said he no longer cares whether he makes any progress and the obstacle to improvement is now removed in the same way John did you notice that he is now able to practice is staggering so to speak. Yes he's loosened up. We can play with his speech and do the thing that he once feared to do by doing this he slowly reduces the emotional block that the stuttering has helped to create. Well it would be fascinating to listen to much more of this therapeutic use of speech for almost everything is concerned with. Him and the
things that he discovered showed a great deal of light on the whole subject of emotion in speech. But at this point I'd like to look ahead two years to his last session of counseling. In this last interview I think we can't fail to detect an even greater change than before shown again chiefly in the intonations in his voice the tremendous burst of emotion are gone. Instead we find the confident tone of a person who is no longer afraid. I think.
I don't think there is much we can say after that. It speaks for itself. Yes he speaks for our whole program. He was afraid of revealing something about himself when he began counseling afraid of letting something get out that he didn't want to. Yet by letting those things out. Little by little he has arrived at a totally different attitude and his voice marks that difference. Well Arnie what would you say about the progress he's made with his speech. Well he's still starters of course a little. But for both him and his listeners now it's not really a problem. His voice expresses the new freedom he's gained by mastering
his feelings mastering them incidentally by expressing them and finding that they weren't so dangerous as he had feared. I think his comments diction is as good a mark of his progress as any. Well yes I'd agree. But then there is another point Arny. How do the serious emotional problems that we've heard in this boy's speech how do they bear upon the more normal speech fears. Well first of all of course when we say speech I think we mean the total personality not just the voice not speaking but acting. We would define speech as that as the total personality we were closed communicates towards includes that and this and then the kind of fears that this boy had either fears that many of us have. I think I would say that we must recognized first that everyone has deep emotions and that secondly
the society that we live in simply doesn't provide outlets. We're living in an age of tremendous pressure especially pressure. I would say that at least you and I feel it in education. Yes. Pressure on the students. That's right. And that goes from college down backwards into the lower levels of education beginning even in the in the junior high at least and this is a tremendous pressure. It's tragic for the child because he's so completely unaware of these remote pressures and things that were spotted all we remember talking about Sputnik years ago. Yes. And the population explosion which we are expecting in the future. Well these are these are all serious pressures but we can say any can't we that all of the deeper emotions are reflected in the act of speech. And if these are frustrated our speech suffers yet it's speech that must heal. As we've dramatically seen in the examples we've
played how do we combat the snowballing effects the fears blocking speech in the black speech increasing fears. Where do we begin. Well one way is by giving play to the voice mechanism itself by babbling in this regard. Charles Van Riper director of the Western Michigan University speech clinic offers this advice and for frustration release. Often we have to find ways of giving these people a chance to show dismay or to raise that hope. And one of the ways in which we do that is by having them make some primitive animal cries. For example sometimes when we have individuals who are very frustrated using their primitive cry you know what that is. You fling out your arms and you do that. That was the primitive cry. And so we are back again at the beginning John. To release ourselves from the icy grip of our own emotions we must start by releasing the emotions themselves
to gain freedom from our fears. We must grant freedom to our fears and express them in our speech. You have been listening to where our minds meet at discussion of human communication by professors John freind and Arnold Nelson where minds meet is produced and recorded by W-M UK under a grant from the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the n AB Radio Network.
Where minds meet
Fear in speech
Producing Organization
Western Michigan University
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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The Frozen Word: Fear in Speech
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Discussions explore world of speech, conducted by Professors John Freund and Arnold Nelson of Western Michigan University
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Social Issues
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Host: Freund, John
Host: Nelson, Arnold
Producing Organization: Western Michigan University
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 63-4-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:13
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Chicago: “Where minds meet; Fear in speech,” 1963-02-14, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 21, 2024,
MLA: “Where minds meet; Fear in speech.” 1963-02-14. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 21, 2024. <>.
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