Stuttering or stammering is a speech disorder. It occurs when the smooth flow of words is disrupted by the unintentional repetition of certain sounds or pauses when the speaker is unable to make a specific sound. Stuttering affects about 1% of the general population at some time in their lives.
Several important people have stuttered. British politician Winston Churchill successfully overcame his problem with stuttering. Actor James Earl Jones was a stutterer as a child. He was so afraid to speak that he remained mute until he reached high school. Vice President Joe Biden suffered from stuttering as a child that continued into his twenties. He overcame the problem by reciting poetry in front of a mirror.
The causes of stuttering are still mostly unknown. Several theories have been suggested over the years. Many of them border on superstition. It was once believed that allowing an infant to look in the mirror or tickling an infant too much could cause stuttering. Some also believed that fear or anxiety caused stuttering. Still others believed it was due to imbalances in the body.