Mixing up words when speaking is many people’s problem. They look for medical names for this issue on the net, yet find none, because it boils down to a simple phenomenon described in this entry.
A man came to me with the following issue:
I’ve always talked really fast and stuttered when I spoke because I do get really excited when I’m telling a story or I’m trying to get my point across. Being from the south, home remedies and explanations sometimes take over and my grandma calls it Mix Up Mash Up and says it’s a sign of being smart. So I’ve never paid it any attention until I got in a serious relationship. I don’t know if it got worse or if a new person just wasn’t used to it and started pointing it out everytime it happened. So I started researching a medical name for it – not getting caught up in labels, just curious – and couldn’t find one, and that led me to come across a question posted to you by another reader on another site. I don’t always realize when I do it. I think I said the sentence right, ” Is the cake in the oven?”, and they’ll hear “Is the oven in the cake?”. Most of the time I’ll have to be told I said it backwards. I know it’s my brain working faster than my mouth. When I write, I’ll be thinking the sentence and writing it out, and when I reread the sentence I missed a word or wrote a word twice. I just want to hear your thoughts and advice on it all…
…and here’s what I advised him:
My advice is this: you’re simply not connecting your speech to your brain. You’re on chronic autopilot, so chronic that the electric impulse [this is as much a metaphor as it’s literal] between your speech and your brain REALIZING what you’re saying is simply not even occurring to you due to the automation of the autopilot! Just stop, reread, and think about what you read in this paragraph. You’ll see it’ll make sense.
On the margin, it’s interesting to see how the human race has been literally spellbound by the power of the medical profession! Look at how its spell worked on you: what did you do first? You searched for the medical name of your issue! Yes, you were curious, not caught up in the labels, but if you weren’t caught up in the labels, why would you be curious? That’s how the Western society is caught up in labels! I wonder how much energy you spent on not finding your issue’s medical name that you could have spent on thinking about how to correct your issue right away. This is just my observation [and I often come across and have written about this phenomenon in some entries of this blog].
Now back to the electric impulse between whatever you’re doing and your brain realizing your actions. I’ll give you an example that may make you and other readers cringe, but exemplifies my point beautifully. Have you ever got up in the night to visit the restroom? If yes, have you ever had a split second moment while sitting in the restroom doing your business hesitating whether you really were in the restroom and not in a dream? If you have had this happen, you’ll realize that once the split second passes, your brain will kick up such strong electric impulse of realization that you’ll frighten yourself realizing that you lost control over knowing whether you really were sitting in the restroom or not! You’ll then automatically – as a matter of reflex – ground yourself to the toilet seat and check yourself, perhaps look around, to assure yourself that you really are there, by which time, needless to say, you’re wide awake! THAT split second phenomenon is due exactly to lack of the electric impulse between your action and the brain realizing your action! That impulse is also the element that people with dementia are missing. It’s again simply autopilot – who thinks about going to the restroom at night three quarters asleep when nature calls? One’s gotta act, right? We act on reflex without realization. But it’s the lack of realization that causes autopilots and brainwash to a certain extent, no matter how harsh or offensive that may sound.
Start practicing the realization when you’re speaking. Ground yourself and practice. What you say must be registered by your brain. Then you’ll start hearing yourself and the issue of mixing up words will cease to be relevant. I also suggest that you thank your partner for helping to point things out to you, and that you take your partner’s help as useful feedback and opportunity to catch yourself and kickstrat the practice of the electric impulse of realization again in that moment when you catch yourself. Your partner’s feedback is a helpful barometer of how well you’re doing! And of course, realizing what you say as opposed to being on autopilot must only help reduce stuttering, right?
If the issue described in this article affects you or someone you know, contact me..