Chronic Perseverative Stuttering Syndrome A Harmful or Helpful Construct? Second Opinion
Second Opinion  |   September 01, 1993
Chronic Perseverative Stuttering Syndrome
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Eugene B. Cooper, EdD
    Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Alabama, Box 870242, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487–0242
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Second Opinions
Second Opinion   |   September 01, 1993
Chronic Perseverative Stuttering Syndrome
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, September 1993, Vol. 2, 11-15. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0203.11
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, September 1993, Vol. 2, 11-15. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0203.11
After writing more than a hundred publications on stuttering in a 25-year period, and with the 10 or so letters I received following my 1965 “Stuttering Apple” article (Cooper, 1965a) being as great an immediate response as I’ve ever received to anything I’ve written, you can imagine my surprise at receiving more than 100 letters, notes, calls, and copies of published reactions to my presentation (Cooper, 1986a) and subsequent articles concerning the chronic perseverative stuttering (CPS) syndrome (Cooper 1987a, 1987b).
Not all the reactions were particularly positive. One reactor concluded: “By creating the syndrome of CPS Dr. Cooper has explained away the ineffectiveness of his treatment methods, and speech therapy in general, by shifting the responsibility from the treatment modality to the client” (Young, 1987, p. 3). Most of the reactions, however, were positive. A personal letter (framed and hanging on my office wall) from Charles Van Riper, who 20 years earlier had flattered a fledgling and insecure professional by requesting permission to include the “Stuttering Apple” in his book on the treatment of stuttering, characterized my 1986 Convention presentation on the CPS syndrome as being “not only courageous but magnificent” (Van Riper, 1987). On the other hand, another colleague, writing in the Journal of Fluency Disorders, suggested I should be brought before the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Board of Ethics for violating ethical standards pertaining to predicting treatment outcomes (Adams, 1988). Still another wrote in the National Stuttering Project’s Letting Go that I did a disservice to all who experienced a chronic fluency problem by presenting a “doomsday message.” In my defense, after quoting my description of how treatment can help those with the CPS syndrome, Benson replied: “Bill, if that’s the definition of ‘doomsday,’ all I can say is, ‘Bring on the bomb’ ” (Benson, 1987, p. 4). My presentation of the chronic perseverative stuttering syndrome obviously touched the hearts as well as the minds of many. Following are representative comments taken from the letters I received at the time:

“I am one of those successful and articulate stutterers you refer to in your speech. I was crying before I finished reading it. I am 41 years old—and you are the first professional to give me real credit for what I have done—and to take me off that ‘hook’ of fluency once and for all. It is really so simple. The issue is control, not fluency. Then to get on with life. Thank you for speaking up and speaking out to your colleagues” (JC).

“Bravo Dr. Cooper—I have the CPS Syndrome…. I hated to read your CPS Syndrome Inventory because I was afraid it would be me. And it is…. If any of your colleagues give you a bad time with this thesis, please don’t hesitate to give them my name and address for further proof. No one has had enough guts to be honest… Self-help groups are the answer plus your attitude on therapy” (LN).

“Thank you Dr. Cooper, for saying what has needed to be stated for too long a time. Many stutterers will never become perfectly fluent. The longer they chase this impossible dream, the more hurt and frustration they suffer. The longer speech professionals dangle this ‘carrot’ before their patients, the more damage they continue to inflict on many stutterers…. Finally—!—someone has said: ‘Look. There are incurable stutterers. Let’s acknowledge that fact and help them cope!’ Thank you Dr. Cooper” (MH).

“You said things that have been in need of saying for a long time. My hat’s off to you, and on behalf of all the ‘Todds’ I’ve encountered too…THANK YOU” (JW).

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