Thursday, January 06, 2011

Lili considers a trip to the flicks, then reconsiders

I've been fascinated for a long time by the story of the stuttering, left-handed King George VI of England, one of many left-handed English royals. I've noted that the new biographical movie about the king, The King's Speech, has been given many good reviews, and has a favourite actor of mine, Helena Bonham-Carter, in a leading role, and it also has a respected Aussie actor playing a real Australian in a main role. But now I'm not so sure about this movie. I get the impression that this will be another sentimental movie that depicts a neurological condition as a psychological disorder that can be cured by psychological counselling. In fact, there was no miracle cure of the King's stutter. King George improved under the care of the Australian elocutionist Lionel Logue, but accounts of the time suggest that the King still had an underlying problem.

I get so annoyed when faced with nonsense about miraculous psychological cures for neurological conditions and disorders. That type of feel-good, touchy-feely mythmaking gets in the way of real progress, in understanding neurological conditions and the people who have them. Stuttering is not a psychological or a psychiatric disorder. It is something to do with the way the brain is wired up (it is no accident of chance that the case that this movie is based upon had a combination of stuttering, maleness and left-handedness) and many of the therapies and interventions that have been offered for stuttering to date have had little or no scientific justification. Autism is not caused by cold mothers, stuttering is not caused by a timid character, Tourette's is not a form of madness, and I think I'll wait till the movie goes to the telly.

"Performer from Perth Lionel Logue gave voice to a king."
Helen Trinca
Online: The Australian January 01, 2011.
The Weekend Australian January 1-2 2011. p. 5 Inquirer.

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