Colin Firth as King George VI in Tom Hooper's film, "The King's Speech."

Colin Firth as King George VI in Tom Hooper's film, "The King's Speech."

Britain’s King George VI never aspired to be king, but in 1937 when his older brother gave up the throne to marry his American lover, he had to step up. The new monarch suffered from a debilitating stutter, a condition that he and many others thought would preclude him from becoming an effective leader. In a new movie, “The King’s Speech” we learn the story of the remarkable friendship that developed between King George VI and the speech therapist who helped the king conquer his stammer and deliver speeches – speeches that buoyed the spirits of his countrymen before and during World War II. The speech therapist’s grandson and two speech experts join me to talk about stuttering and how it can be treated. Please join us.


  • Mark Logue Co-writer "The King's Speech" filmaker, grandson of Lionel Logue
  • Vivian Sisskin Dept. of Hearing and Speech Sciences University of Maryland
  • Shelley Brundage Associate professor, Speech and Hearing Sciences, George Washington University


  • 11:06:55

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. A new movie, "The King's Speech" depicts the close relationship that developed in the 1930s between Britain's Duke of York and a speech therapist. The Duke who became King George VI on the eve of World War II had suffered from a debilitating stammer, but with the therapist's help, he was able to deliver speeches that inspired hope before and during World War II.

  • 11:07:36

    MS. DIANE REHMJoining us from the studio in London, Mark Logue, he's the therapist's grandson. Good morning to you, Mark.

  • 11:07:45

    MR. MARK LOGUEGood morning, Diane.

  • 11:07:47

    REHMI gather the weather is rather cold there in London.

  • 11:07:53

    LOGUEYeah, we've had a few days of snow and minus two degrees, but it is beginning to thaw now so currently we've got a slushy Christmas.

  • 11:08:02

    REHMOh, well, I'm glad to hear it's a little less cold. Here in the studio with me to talk about stuttering, how it is treated, are two speech experts, Vivian Sisskin of the University of Maryland and Shelley Brundage of George Washington University. And throughout the hour, we will be taking your calls, comments, 800-433-8850. Send us your e-mail to Join us on Facebook. Send us a tweet. Mark, let me start with you, talk about how this movie, "The King's Speech" came about.

  • 11:08:53

    LOGUEWell, it came about -- we've got to wind the clock back to about 1981 to sort of see the genesis of the project and that was when the writer David Seidler first came across the project, the story. He, himself, had suffered as a child from stammering and so had his uncle and his uncle had been a patient of Lionel's.

  • 11:09:23

    LOGUESo this was a project very close to David's heart and he began the project. He began writing an outline for a script for this story. He then approached my uncle at the time, who had the archive of letters and diaries and journals that my grandfather kept. And he then bounced him back to Clarence House, which was the home of the then Queen Mother who declined to collaborate with David at the time because the story was still very painful for her. And she decided that she'd rather not, that the story wasn't told in her lifetime. These were still very sore sort of experiences for her.

  • 11:10:13

    LOGUESo David dutifully sat on the project for the next 25 years until 2005 when he resumed. And in 2007, the script was then read theatrically in a theater during sort of a roundtable sit-down reading where it was listened to and optioned for the film. And then the rest is history.

  • 11:10:38

    REHMBut after the movie was made, you were inspired to keep on digging?

  • 11:10:46

    LOGUEThat's right. I mean, actually, during my collaboration with Tom Hooper, which started in about July of last year and continued through the filming, I dug and dug and found for the first time what was in the diaries because I'd never really read them. I'd kind of taken them for granted. And I discovered far more. I mean, I discovered through researching in Australia, through files, through online records and through shipping manifests and, you know, lots of research done, I discovered a lot more about him that predates the film that -- of his life in Adelaide and Perth and then details of -- after the film leaves him, after '39 between '39 and '53. So yeah, this was an itch I had to scratch and I mean, the book seemed like the natural place to go with it.

  • 11:11:45

    REHMTell me what kinds of speech problems the Duke of York was suffering from before he became king and how did those speech problems manifest themselves in public.

  • 11:12:05

    LOGUEWell, the speech, I think the king, or the Duke of York at the time, suffered from a very early age. I think as early as about six, which is fairly typical. He was -- I think the right word would be he was brutalized as a child. His father, King George V, was famous for saying, you know, he feared his father and he'd be damned if his children didn't fear him. So you can imagine the kind of upbringing he had. And, you know, he developed this stammer and then it was a kind of -- it got worse and his confidence got worse following that because, you know, growing up as a child, he never had the confidence and he was kind of being sidelined.

  • 11:13:05

    LOGUEHis elder brother was the one being groomed for the crown and he was just a kind of a dutiful duke who would have to do his duty making speeches and a couple of appearances, but nothing more than that. So yeah, this had a terrible effect on him in his development as a young adult.

  • 11:13:18

    REHMAll right. We have two clips of King George by the time he is a king. This is 1939 and it is a clip of him actually speaking. Let's hear it.

  • 11:13:46

    KING GEORGE VThe Festival, which we know as Christmas is -- is, above all, a festival of peace and of the home. Among all these (word?) people, the love of peace is profound. For this alone, it gives charity to the home, but true peace is in the hearts of men and it is the tragedy of this time that there are powerful countries whose whole direction and policy are based on aggression and the oppression of all that we hold dear for mankind.

  • 11:15:13

    REHMNow, Mark Logue, that would have been 1939 that he gave that speech. When did he begin speech therapy with your grandfather?

  • 11:15:27

    LOGUEHe began his first interview on the 19th of October, 1926, when the young duke entered his -- Lionel's practice on Harley Street. And by that stage, he was pretty desperate. He'd made a speech the year before at the opening of the Empire Exhibition in Wembley where -- and I think you heard his hesitation for some words there. But that hesitation in some cases would last over a minute and he basically was unable to finish his speech. And this was broadcast in front of the empire.

  • 11:16:10

    LOGUESo you can imagine the effect that had on him. So in walks a man who was pretty sort of -- by the time he reaches Lionel Logue, he's pretty destroyed. His confidence is pretty low and he is, you know, being asked to make all these speeches. So I have it actually in front of me. I have the original. I'd say you'd call it a doctor's appointment card, but it's kind of, you know, it measures 12 inches by 4. And on it is in very scratchy, spidery writing typical of my grandfather's writing, is his first observation of the young duke as he walks in.

  • 11:16:44

    LOGUEAnd he writes, in the column, it just says physical. Then it says well built, with good shoulders, but waistline very flabby, good chest development, top lung breathing good, has never used diaphragm or lower lung and this has resulted in, through non-control of solar plexus, in nervous tension with consequent periods of bad speech and depression.

  • 11:17:08

    LOGUESo it goes on and it says contracts teeth and mouth, mechanically closes throat, gets chin down and closes throat at times, an extraordinary habit of clipping small words, an, in, on and saying the first syllable of one word and the last syllable of another, clipping the center and very often hesitantly. And there's another couple of paragraphs there describing, you know, his mental state as well. It goes -- it says quite normal, has an acute nervous tension which has been brought on by the defect of a nervous disposition.

  • 11:17:35

    LOGUESo, you know, here are his first observations of him. And then, on the flip side of that document, there's, I'd say, possibly hundreds of dates running down the column. Vertically, there's, you know, from '26 until '38 I think this card runs out to and on it there are hundreds of dates. And in the earlier days following the first interview, there are appointments every day through October, November, December and then it resumes in January and then there's nothing for a while.

  • 11:18:15

    LOGUEI think the Duke of York is then on this trip to Canberra to open parliament there and then he returns in June and then the following year. And the appointments don't cease for 25 years. He, Logue, is in attendance for almost every speech he makes. He's personally attending every broadcast, every Christmas broadcast.

  • 11:18:42

    REHMMark Logue, he's co-writer of "The King's Speech". He's a film maker and grandson of speech therapist, Lionel Logue. We'll take a short break. We'll be right back.

  • 11:20:03

    REHMWelcome back. We're talking about King George and the movie just released, "The King's Speech," which depicts the close relationship that developed, starting in 1928, between Britain's Duke of York at the time and a speech therapist, Lionel Logue. Lionel Logue's grandson, Mark Logue, joins us from Great Britain. Here in the studio, Vivian Sisskin. She's at the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at the University of Maryland, and Shelley Brundage, associate professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at George Washington University. Vivian Sisskin, hearing King George, hearing that speech he made in 1939, what were your reactions? What did you hear?

  • 11:21:08

    MS. VIVIAN SISSKINWell, we can hear some classic symptoms of stuttering, certainly in the motor areas. We can hear he has some silent blocks and you can also hear -- silent blocking is where phonation does not come out. The person is trying to say the sound, but is really blocked at that point and you can't hear anything. They're holding back. There are some other things you can hear in that as well and those are some of the coping strategies that he's used to help overcome some of that blocking.

  • 11:21:38

    MS. VIVIAN SISSKINFor example, right before he blocked on the word above, he repeated the word is several times. We call that an escape strategy and it helps move them forward. So you heard is -- is and then he moved onto above. And so you can hear both the core symptoms of stuttering, which are repetitions, prolongations and blocks, in this case, as well as some of those coping strategies.

  • 11:22:04

    REHMAnd Shelley, what did you hear?

  • 11:22:08

    MS. SHELLEY BRUNDAGEI was actually thinking back to some of the things that Mark said that are typical reports from people who stutter, about their emotional reactions to living with a stutter, when he said that it reduced the king's confidence in his ability to speak. When he began to -- he thought of himself as a person who could not do kingly things because of the stutter. The stuttering very often will lead to affective reactions and differences in feelings of oneself as a communicator.

  • 11:22:52

    REHMWhich affects one's entire self worth.

  • 11:22:57

    BRUNDAGEIt can.

  • 11:22:58

    REHMI speak from experience, I assure you. (laugh) Mark Logue, your grandfather talks about the fact that the king does not seem to be using his diaphragm very well. Are there more detailed notes about that?

  • 11:23:21

    LOGUEWell, I think one of the great approaches that Lionel took to curing him was due to the fact that the king believed up until then that he suffered from a mental defection. You know, he believed himself to be mentally defective in some way due to the treatment he had at the hands of his peers at school and the fact that he just got teased. So therefore, Lionel's approach was to treat the physical, was to reassure the Duke that what was wrong with him was purely physical. And once you could overcome that, then everything could resume. He could get his voice back and he could start building his self esteem and his confidence once the voice was back. And that approach was key to, I think, his being cured.

  • 11:24:17

    LOGUEI mean, the cure to stammering lies in the stammerer. It's not an external application of any curative process. It's advice, support, training techniques and all of that. But there's no operation, there's no medicine, there's nothing that is coming in from the outside. So the cure was within the Duke himself all along. He was just unable and untrained -- not untrained, but he just didn't have the means to access that cure at the time.

  • 11:24:51

    REHMBut let's go back to what you said in regard to his father, that the king's father treated the young boy very harshly. He himself had been treated in that manner so he carried on with that tradition. Can we argue that his stuttering, Shelley or Vivian, can be blamed partly on his stern father, George V, or is it something else, Vivian?

  • 11:25:33

    SISSKINWell, one of the things that we can rule out now in terms of cause of stuttering is that stuttering is not caused by deep-seated emotional conflict. It's not caused by an early trauma. It's not caused by lack of confidence or anxiety. However, some of these things, like anxiety, tension, stress and certainly fear of speaking are the result of stuttering. We do know a lot more about stuttering than we did know 50 years ago.

  • 11:26:00

    SISSKINAnd we do know that it's more neurophysiological and genetic. But I think that one of the things that we hope that people get out of seeing the movie -- 'cause we both saw the movie as well -- is that the emotional side of stuttering was portrayed so wonderfully and very powerfully. And, in fact, one of my clients even said, that giant microphone in front of the King's face made him have palpitations in his own heart just...

  • 11:26:29


  • 11:26:29

    SISSKIN...just feeling that situation.

  • 11:26:31


  • 11:26:32

    SISSKINHowever, we hope that parents also realize that they did not cause their child's stuttering and that many people have harsh family backgrounds and they do not begin to stutter.

  • 11:26:43

    REHMNow, as again we concentrate for just a moment on causes, Shelley, isn't the cause of stuttering located in precisely the same area of the brain as is spasmodic dysphonia, that is in the basal ganglia of the brain, which begins to send incorrect messages?

  • 11:27:14

    BRUNDAGEWell, I don't know that we know that yet about stuttering. What we do know is that when you look at adults who stutter versus adults who don't and you put them into brain scanners, you see different activation patterns between the two groups when they're talking. But the problem is the results are still conflicting. So in some studies you might see an over-activation, in others, an under-activation in the adults who stutter, in the same part of the brain. The other issue is that we don't know -- you can get these findings and they can become very difficult to interpret in adults because you don't know if it's the cause of the stuttering...

  • 11:28:03


  • 11:28:04

    BRUNDAGE...or if it's the brain's response to living with stuttering for so long. So what we really need is more studies of children and brain imaging in children who stutter. But then that gets you into some problems with exposure to radiation with the isotopes that they have to put in.

  • 11:28:27

    REHMOf course. Mark, you've read to us something of your grandfather's reaction to the Duke. What about the Duke's reaction to your grandfather? What do we know?

  • 11:28:44

    LOGUEWell, he was very kind to my grandfather. They exchanged many words through their lives. They became friends, I believe. They exchanged birthday gifts and they wrote to each other constantly. And, of course, my grandfather was given the MVO followed by the CVO later in life as a kind of an acknowledgement for the help and the support he gave the king, which are very prestigious awards given by the king only.

  • 11:29:24

    REHMSpell out the MVO for us.

  • 11:29:25

    LOGUEIt's the -- I think it's the Master of the Victorian Order and then followed by the Commander of the Victorian Order.

  • 11:29:34


  • 11:29:34

    LOGUEAnd then, I think the next one up is a Knighthood. So yeah, I think they remained fairly close, as close as you can get to a royal. The -- and the letters...

  • 11:29:48


  • 11:29:50


  • 11:29:50

    REHMYou go ahead.

  • 11:29:54

    LOGUEAnd the letters are very kind of tender. They're headed, My Dear Logue. They're still fairly formal. I've got a few of them in front of me written from Balmoral Castle. And there's some letters -- there's one here dated 1927 in the king's handwriting with the letter headed, from Balmoral. This is when he's the Duke of York, of course. He says, "My Dear Logue, I mustn't boast and I must touch word while I write this, but I haven't had a bad day since I've been in Scotland. Up here, I've been talking a lot with the king and I have no trouble at all.

  • 11:30:36

    LOGUEAlso, I can make him listen. I don't have to repeat anything over again. I have done this on purpose for practice. I told Lord Dawson of (sounds like) Dean I have been to you and I have suggested to him to send patients along to you and to no one else. He noticed the difference at once. I will let you know when I come south.

  • 11:30:55

    REHMTell me...

  • 11:30:56

    LOGUEI'm feeling altogether different."

  • 11:30:57

    REHM...tell me what kinds of treatments your grandfather prescribed.

  • 11:31:04

    LOGUEWell, it's difficult to say exactly. In my grandfather's diaries, he goes into some detail, and he's quite verbose about some things, but he's not particularly detailed about his actual therapies. Beyond giving him tongue twisters to recite and the exercises which he just described as exercises rather than going into any details. But having spoken to some therapists since then I've discovered that I don't think there's anything special or mysterious about what he prescribed to the king to do. And I think people can tell from listening to the king's speeches and listening to where he inserts hesitations and where -- his methods for avoiding hesitation. And I think that's particularly evident in the Eve of War speech in '39, is that -- sorry, I've lost the thread.

  • 11:32:09

    REHMYou were talking about treatments and...

  • 11:32:12


  • 11:32:12 know, I was wondering about breathing exercises to strengthen that diaphragm.

  • 11:32:21

    LOGUEYeah, I mean, well, there were the exercises. But, like I said, Lionel didn't go into huge amounts of detail...

  • 11:32:28


  • 11:32:29

    LOGUE...about them. He went into detail about other things and I think he was kind of more interested in figuring out what the Duke of York and then the king's state of mind was. He was very interested in his stresses, what he was having to deal with from his kind of royal engagements and from the point of view of his exhaustion and how much he traveled, where he came from. So he was also interested in how the king relaxed and he made sure that he went for walks.

  • 11:33:01

    LOGUESo yeah, I mean, and the speeches themselves, the way he approached making the speeches with Logue, they rehearsed the speeches naturally before they made them. And Logue would make annotations on the speeches themselves and then hand them over to the king. And in the annotations, he would link words together where he recommended the king would join words together. And he would put pencil marks through breaks between words to make sure that there was an extra long pause sort of in case he hesitated.

  • 11:33:38

    LOGUEAnd he replaced some words. He replaced some words that he knew that he'd have difficulty with, like king, for instance, he'd replace with monarch, government he'd replace -- so he made some changes where he knew that the king would have difficulty and which would result in another hesitation or a complete block.

  • 11:33:57

    REHMMark Logue. He's co-writer of "The King's Speech." He's a filmmaker and grandson of speech therapist Lionel Logue. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We do have that 1939 Eve of War speech by King George VI. Let's hear it.

  • 11:34:29

    REHMNo, sorry, we got the wrong one there. Let's put the other one up as soon as we can. But you wanted to say something, Shelley.

  • 11:34:42

    BRUNDAGEYeah, Diane. I wanted just to make sure that folks understood there's a lot of different approaches to stuttering therapy. Essentially you can learn to speak in a new way that makes it impossible to stutter.

  • 11:35:03

    REHMNot quite impossible. (laugh)

  • 11:35:05

    BRUNDAGEWell, makes it...

  • 11:35:06

    REHMLess likely perhaps.

  • 11:35:07

    BRUNDAGE...less likely. Yes. You can also -- another tact is to decide to manage the stuttering and make it less tense and to have the stuttering come out more easily and with less tension. There are also other programs primarily for children that involve giving them immediate feedback for their -- when they stutter and asking them to repeat it. And it's the parent -- parent manage therapies with the help of a speech pathologist.

  • 11:35:47


  • 11:35:47

    SISSKINI wanted to comment on a couple of things that we were able to see going on in the movie itself. During the movie, you saw one moment where Lionel Logue had him put headphones on. He was listening to music and he was able to speak fluently. And another time he was...

  • 11:36:05

    REHMYou know, excuse me. You're saying that music was coming into his head...

  • 11:36:11

    SISSKINYes. And so...

  • 11:36:11

    REHM...and therefore he was able to speak fluently while listening...

  • 11:36:16


  • 11:36:16 the music. Okay.

  • 11:36:17

    SISSKINAnd that's an altered auditory feedback mechanism called masking. And it was one of the many examples in the movie that is able -- where you were able to alter one's speech to induce fluency, which may not necessarily be a therapy strategy. There were many things that went on in the movie that demonstrated induced fluency for temporary reasons, and particularly when giving a speech. Heavy pausing and phrasing, for example, breaking things into smaller linguistic units, reducing time pressure.

  • 11:36:54

    SISSKINThere were -- even being able to swear and not stutter. (laugh) And a lot of those -- and I think that Lionel Logue, if these were all true, and I think that Mark could perhaps respond to that, he was very astute observer of the behaviors that people who stutter do have, and used some of those fluency inducing mechanisms as therapy.

  • 11:37:23

    REHMVivian Susskin. She's Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at the University of Maryland. We'll take a short break and when we come back, we'll hope to hear that Eve of War speech going back to 1939.

  • 11:40:03

    REHMAnd we are back talking about, "The King's Speech." And, of course, the new movie of that name which depicts the close relationship that developed in the 1930s between Britain's Duke of York and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue. On the line with us from Britain is Mark Logue. He's co-writer of that movie. He is a film maker and grandson of speech therapist Lionel Logue. Here in the studio, Vivian Sisskin at the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at the University of Maryland. And Shelley Brundage, she's at the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at George Washington University.

  • 11:40:57

    REHMHere's a note from Facebook as the wife of a person with a stammer who has achieved a successful professional life as an immigration attorney. "Here in D.C. even with a continued stammer, we are a bit troubled with the notion that people can be cured." What are your thoughts, Vivian?

  • 11:41:23

    SISSKINYes, I think that cure is not really the word to use. We talk about recovery and for many people, recovery is a personal definition. Many people think that if you can say what you want, when you want without interfering with communication and without thinking about the impact of stuttering then you're recovered. And so I think it's more about being able to communicate without struggle. And what I always say to my clients is that, you may not have a choice as to whether or not you struggle -- stutter, you may not have a choice as to as whether or not you stutter, but you do have a choice as to whether or not you struggle.

  • 11:41:59

    SISSKINAnd therapy can do a lot to change a struggle involved in stuttering, both emotional struggle as well as physical struggle of speech.

  • 11:42:08

    REHMMark, do you believe that your grandfather considered the King to be cured?

  • 11:42:17

    LOGUENo, I don't believe he ever considered -- I mean, the fact that he was by -- he treated the King for pretty much his whole life, I think, is evidence that he didn't believe he was cured. I think it threatened to come back and, you know, without the assistance and without the kind of coaching, the pre-speech coaching, and, like you said, the short term -- giving the Duke and the King short term sort of methods of overcoming the very near future, you know, overcoming the speech just right in front of him.

  • 11:42:55

    LOGUEYou know, I think that with that low ground, that the King may not of coped quite as well, although he had lots of other methods in place. He had, of course, the Queen Mother enormously and so, you know, I'm not sure. I mean, I'm not qualified and I haven't been around stammering for very long to learn enough about what it was Lionel did. And certainly what the enormity of the problem was for the Duke.

  • 11:43:29

    REHMDid your grandfather ever address the Duke's father directly, do we know?

  • 11:43:40

    LOGUEI don’t believe -- there's no evidence in the letters that they met, although Lionel did meet Queen Mary, King George V's wife. And the King has said -- actually is on record as saying that he as a result of his son's progress in speech making, he recommended everyone see Logue in a separate letter similar to the one I read out.

  • 11:44:12


  • 11:44:12

    LOGUEBut, yeah, and so I think he was impressed with his son's sort of coping with it and his son's determination to make good at the problem. And he said so, he said -- in fact, it's in the film and this was a quote from the King, that he believed that his son had got, you know, had courage and also he had a great sense of duty. So, I think, he felt he had to do it.

  • 11:44:40


  • 11:44:41

    SISSKINOne of the things -- when you're looking at outcomes in therapy, one of things that's important to look at is this notion of support that Mark just mentioned. And he did have a great deal of support from close family members. The other area is the therapeutic alliance that was demonstrated in the movie between Lionel Logue and the King which was so powerful and we know now from research in psychology, education and medicine that the therapeutic alliance does much of the work in the outcome of change.

  • 11:45:09


  • 11:45:10

    SISSKINAnd so I thought that that was very clear, that that therapeutic alliance was there.

  • 11:45:15

    REHMAll right, let's take a caller in Kannapolis, N.C. Good morning, Lisa, you're on the air.

  • 11:45:23

    LISAGood morning. I have a question about the causes of stuttering. I take care of two little boys. They're brothers. One's 10 and the other's about 7 and the 10-year-old has had a stutter ever since I've known him for a few years and just about six months ago, the younger one began stuttering, too, but it's a different kind of stutter. And I wonder if it's modeling, if he's modeling his big brother whom he really idolizes?

  • 11:45:48


  • 11:45:49

    SISSKINYeah, we do know that stuttering is not learned through imitation. In fact, that's one of the myths about stuttering is that it can be learned by a family member. It does run in families, however it's more of a genetic kind of thing. When a young child begins to stutter, it doesn't look very much like an older child or adult stuttering. It looks very different. So if they were actually modeling it, they would be modeling the same behavior. It's likely that we have stuttering in the family here.

  • 11:46:18

    REHMAll right. Thanks for calling, Lisa. Would you suggest then that both children be given therapy simultaneously or separately?

  • 11:46:31

    SISSKINWell, you can't always determine that someone needs therapy just because they're stuttering. I would definitely recommend an evaluation by qualified speech and language therapists to see if therapy is warranted. At very young ages, we don't jump very quickly to provide therapy because so much of early stuttering resolves on its own. In fact, up to 80 percent of young children who begin to stutter do spontaneously recover without any help. The important thing to note about that, because many doctors tell you to wait, is that most of the recovery occurs within a year or two from onset.

  • 11:47:08

    REHMTo Cincinnati, Ohio, good morning, Bill.

  • 11:47:14

    BILLYes, good morning, Diane. I love your show and thanks for taking my call.

  • 11:47:18


  • 11:47:19

    BILLI'm a man in my 50s and I've had a stutter all of my life. And I'm just curious how many people do not seek speech therapy or some sort of evaluation?

  • 11:47:33


  • 11:47:34

    BRUNDAGEInterestingly, it's the majority of people who stutter don't seek treatment. And we know that and it's -- so then that makes you think, well, are the people who do seek treatment somehow different from the rest of the people who stutter? And we really don't know the answer to that. But what we do know is that when people tend to come for treatment, you're at a low ebb. So maybe if things get bad enough, if you will, that's when most people come in. You know, you don't go see the doctor when you're feeling great. You go when you're not feeling so great.

  • 11:48:19

    SISSKINI'd also like to mention the notion of covert stuttering. Stuttering for many people is overt. You see the symptoms. But for a large percentage of people who stutter who are out there not seeking treatment, they are successfully able to hide their stuttering through avoidance strategies and that might be ordering things they don't want to eat, having other people talk for them, avoiding speaking situations of all sorts and usually spending their life in what we call mental gymnastics in order to avoid having to communicate. Those people, if they can successfully pass as someone who doesn't stutter, they might not be getting therapy because they think they're managing well without any help.

  • 11:48:59

    REHMHere's an e-mail from Sarah who says she's looking forward to seeing the film. "When I think of stuttering," she says, "the first thing I think of is the 1939 monster study in which 22 orphans in Iowa were taught to stutter. I was wondering if the results of that experiment were useful in making the film? The experiments were happening at the same time the King was working to overcome his stutter. Did they have an impact on his treatment?" Mark, do you have any thoughts on that?

  • 11:49:44

    LOGUENone. I don't know for sure what lengths and what depths David Seidler went to research the script. I know for sure that he's told me that some of the methods used in the film to -- some of the methods used before Lionel got to the King, like the marbles in the mouth and the smoking, for instance, were -- he believed to be, like, compatible and, you know, not proven to be used by the King but were kind of common and popular treatments for stammering at the time.

  • 11:50:23

    LOGUESo that's kind of like consistent. But as to where he went to research, I'm not quite sure. But a lot research was done. And most of the book has been written is based on the diaries and the research I've done through the diaries and through newspaper articles. And I haven't really extended -- I haven't really started to kind of speculate anything beyond that. And I haven't brought it up to the present day.

  • 11:50:56

    LOGUESo it's really purely about, you know, my grandfather's experience and the development of that relationship and the King's development and with a historical context in broad strokes, but a great deal of detail in the day to day activities of my grandfather and the King. But, you know, it's inevitable that, and I want to speculate as well, as to what exactly that detail was. And stuff that wasn't written about, stuff that we could ponder over and imagine and, you know, you begin to kind of speculate and that's inevitable.

  • 11:51:32


  • 11:51:33

    BRUNDAGEI just wanted to say a couple of words about the monster study, as it were. It actually is an interesting thing to think about in terms of an older theory of stuttering cause that's been debunked. And that is that typically parents, typically mothers, overreact to their child's dis-fluent behaviors, normal dis-fluent behaviors and they essentially mislabel it as stuttering.

  • 11:52:01

    REHMWell, what do you mean, dis-fluent behaviors?

  • 11:52:04

    BRUNDAGEPretty much every child who is learning language goes through a period of what we would call typical dis-fluency that is not stuttering. It is decidedly different from stuttering and in fact, so do stuttering children so they have the overlay of stuttering and they also have typical dis-fluencies. And the best person to make the distinction between those two behaviors is a speech pathologist. But what happened in the monster study that the listener was referring to is the way to test this theory, I suppose, if you think it's a good one, is to go and find some children and essentially tell them that you think they stutter and that there speech is no good.

  • 11:52:51

    BRUNDAGEAnd if the theory is correct, then those children should turn into stutterers. And in fact, in this study, they didn't. And for years, the research was not published because the person whose theory it was thought that he had not found findings that supporting his theory. And what it did seem to do to those children over the years is to give them a lifelong fear of communicating. But it didn't turn them, importantly, into stutters.

  • 11:53:24

    REHMWow. And you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. Here's a question from, let's see, Dwight, who says, "This is a very interesting approach to this wonderful movie. I do have a question. How did Colin Firth learn to stutter so well? Was he perhaps coached by Derek Jacobi, (unintelligible) who portrayed the Archbishop, Cosmo Lang in film?" Mark Logue?

  • 11:54:00

    LOGUEYeah, yeah, Colin Firth does do an incredible job of stuttering. And he has said, one of his methods -- I mean, it's a huge problem for an actor to try and learn a roll like that. Because first of all, you've got to learn, you know, you've got to learn how to stutter and then you've got to learn how to avoid stuttering because essentially that...

  • 11:54:20

    REHMAnd then you have to learn how to feel the fear that goes along with it.

  • 11:54:25

    LOGUEYeah, and so you've got a kind of double sort of struggle there because you've got a -- first of all, you've got to remember to stammer and then you've got to try and avoid stammering. So you've got this internal conflict going on, which is really quite a, kind of, a task for an actor. He struggled -- his sister actually is a voice -- I think she's a voice coach and I think she helped him enormously. And he sought the advice of several professionals at the time. I'm not sure if Derek Jacobi coached him. Derek Jacobi's role in the film is much less sympathetic. But, yeah, it's a brilliant role, though, and he carries it off brilliantly.

  • 11:55:08

    REHMAnd Mark, finally, how much input did you have into how this movie depicted your grandfather and his story?

  • 11:55:20

    LOGUEOh, through November, December last year, it was fantastic because Tom devoured the archives. Tom Hooper, that is, the director of the film. When he got his hands on this archive and I transcribed them and we processed all this stuff and gave him all this stuff that was relevant and he fed it to Geoffrey and to Colin and they loved it because here were facts and evidence and certain scenes which were blocked out in detail of where the King was, where he stood, where he sat.

  • 11:55:52

    LOGUEAnd so this made it very easy for them to kind of get into character because here were their two characters laid out in the pages. So, yeah, it was great. And...

  • 11:56:05

    REHMSo you're pleased with the final portrayal?

  • 11:56:10

    LOGUEYes. I am. I mean, I never met my grandfather. He died 12 years before I was born. So the closest I've got to meeting him was on screen when I first saw the film.

  • 11:56:20

    REHMAnd Geoffrey Rush, I gather, plays just a marvelous role in this movie along with Colin Firth?

  • 11:56:30

    LOGUEYeah, he's brilliant. It's a very well researched role. I mean, when the character was first sort of drawn in the first version of the script, it was much more obviously stereotypically Australian, if you can imagine a kind of a fairly kind of -- not vulgar, but a kind of obviously roughly drawn Australian man. But I think Geoffrey recognized in the diaries and through his own research that here was a much more kind of erudite well-educated upper middle class Australian man who very kind of deferential to the crown...

  • 11:57:07


  • 11:57:08

    LOGUE...and into Britain.

  • 11:57:09

    REHM...I am certainly looking forward to seeing that film. Mark Logue, co-writer of, "The King's Speech." He's the grandson of speech therapist, Lionel Logue, who worked with King George the fifth. Vivian Sisskin is at the University of Maryland, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences. Shelley Brundage is at George Washington University. Thank you all so much. Merry Christmas to you. Thanks for listening, I'm Diane Rehm.

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