His mother-tongue: from stuttering to separation, a case history



This paper delineates the transference and countertransference experiences in the analysis of a patient whose presenting symptom and main concern was his stutter. I suggest that oral-sadistic rather than anal-sadistic hostile elements may be identified in this patient's particular stutter. I focus on its significance in terms of object relationship: my patient's struggle to ‘get born’, to emerge as a separate other. I argue that early symbiotic fusion needs in conflict with the need to separate produce his stutter. Speech and language are seen as the vehicle for separation and the stutter as a flight from separateness back to an illusion of fusion with mother.