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0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0. That sounds like a beatnik poetry session getting under way Arnie. Well it may sound 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 that paralyzed speech where our minds meet a series of explorations and human communication conducted by professors John Prine Dan Donald Nelson of the Department of English Western Michigan University where minds meet is produced and recorded by WMU K. under a grant from the National Association of educational broadcasters. In a shrinking world where minds meet in words or not at all man speech is his most decisive act. And these discussions explore this world of speech.
The topic for today is the prose and word fear in speech. Here are professors frind and Nelson. This is John freind and this is not all 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. 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 speech the hidden fears and anxieties that can cripple or completely frustrate successful communication. Yes and the effects of a blocked emotion are not confined to those who go to speech correction clinics for aid. Everyone has experienced speech fear to some degree. That is he has found himself in the grip of an emotion that serves no useful purpose and which arises without sufficient want. 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 our 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 Berg dirigible at Lakers New Jersey in May of 1037. 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 I've got a great orator Great better I get to go to mag and I'm writing to write and united by a plan to get more of a big band and drop out of the notable
racked up a little bit. I backed up at all to hear that. Got it and write it back in. Oh I get out of the way I played it back at my infant and it got the point bad thought about but maybe the method that the butt of the butt get that picked up the pile of money by private the guy at it at that paragraph a guy played a little bit of folk a bit late now and bit by bit right think that the crowd not gripe at the boy but if you read a bit. 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 felt emotion in news reports still in our personal lives emotional speech is rather common.
Well Arnie Why is it then 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 self 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 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. You know 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 the topic to as I recall yes to raise money from his audience so that he could go to Florida over spring vacation. Yes it was an odd speech I gave him this assignment on a slip of paper and 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 is that I was wondering what the audience was going to look like and I don't know what their reaction would be but I figure that just walking over there would be I would try to not only learn something about myself and the reactions of a different group compared to a group that I already know but I was quite late I would put it in a lot of different areas. Why did you want badly to take their favorite. I don't because I took a very broad everybody would know a lot and I have to do something yourself and everything while you just have to. This way I would look like I would just want to get up there and really want to date. Asking for something and I mean as what would you have any trouble with. Again for me they have their own very merry go round
here is it. And all I was doing very just not only knew something was going on I made it on my own more easier and with her in other words you were immediately recognized that you were not paying her or you were playing a role. OK thank you America. Hear him here didn't disappear now. 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 and all. Well I'd say that self understanding lies at the root of all successful speech Johnny. 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 the 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. Well 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 and 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. It's one of the most. As written of modern Western civilization we are entering into the realm of the unknown and we are entering it joining in without much hope without the great culture and as possible over just
the normal character. With our we are reduced to our calculation. Our we can do our own shouting 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 ma 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 our wants our audience shows that it is aware of our difficulty in speaking them. The difficulty is exaggerated. That is when the audience communicates its discomfort its attention back to the
speaker is the speaker's fear then doubles and the difficulty increases. A vicious circle. Well this is a special problem with many stutterers. Yes the starter's 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 any I think the speech of the girl will hear next is especially interesting. She studies but it's apparent that she is not bothered by her study. Consequently I don't think our audience will be bothered by it either. Anyway that's a little to buy and anyway doing good. Yeah
yeah right okay. Well I didn't feel mainstream whenever I'm 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 his daughter. Well I think this leads John to the major point of today's program not the sounds of speech. The voice the articulation and so forth are of far less importance in communication than the personality 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 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 or flawless speech which 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 and 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 first off 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 sex 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 of a far greater emotional problem. The room where. I think everybody else thanks to her. Thank you. Thank you. Never. You feel like. You know crack up when I try. Thank you she originally knew. You get the feeling when you're there are. You sure that everybody else think same way the way they do everybody else. Oh you have to. Be. Crazy good or something wrong with the U.K.. All right. Q anything right. Well. If we let it.
Go. I guess. We'll be right you know but you know good. For her. I think what's most noticeable here is the low opinion he has of himself and the way he feels that everyone else regards him. He seems ready to give up. He doesn't see the sense in trying hard because it only leads to failures. Now in another section of this first interview he describes in detail the difficulties he has in speaking the ordeal that speech is for him. Crowd feel. So. Lonely. Obama. Well. Be there. No matter what you do you feel very neatly along with me when. I get.
Well. Oh I think Europeans and. I. Have. Never. And the heart to be. Like everything. Comes together at that very point where you have to. Be away. Like that. They might for you. Like every. Copy of. The. Fighter. I don't know I feel like you. Feel like. Some. Part of 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's 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 admission 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. Feeling. It all right I think I really find a dry dry gray or whatever thread you were filled with dread of the feeling I was beginning to feel like
a wall here is that I don't know what to do I don't know what can go. You know. I was sad because. John the change in that boy's voice is phenomenal It scares me sounds like the same person but actually in spite of this dream he sounded as though it was a fairly pleasant experience.
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 what 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.
Right. OK. Well everything about his speech here shows how much progress he has my in spite of the fact that he has given up an option 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 Jonathan orders that he is now able to practice his stuttering 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. So. 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 but 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 agree. But then there is another point. 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 the as the total person now a we were closed communicates so words 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 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 started 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 Arnie can't we that all of the deeper emotions are reflected in the act of speech. And if these are frustrated are our
speech suffers yet in speech that must heal. As we've dramatically seen in the examples we played. How do we combat the snowballing effects. Fear is 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 not Charles Van Riper director of the Western Michigan University speech clinic offers this advice and not 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 to release ourselves from the icy grip
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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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: 00:29:24
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Chicago: “Where minds meet; Fear in speech,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 24, 2022,
MLA: “Where minds meet; Fear in speech.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 24, 2022. <>.
APA: Where minds meet; Fear in speech. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from