What Scott Adams describes about his experience with Spasmodic Dysphonia is exactly the same as what I (and presumably lots of people) experience with stuttering. This wacky thing called the brain gets disconnected and confused about speech during different contexts.
The weirdest part of this phenomenon is that speech is processed in different parts of the brain depending on the context. So people with this problem can often sing but they can’t talk. In my case I could do my normal professional speaking to large crowds but I could barely whisper and grunt off stage. And most people with this condition report they have the most trouble talking on the telephone or when there is background noise. I can speak normally alone, but not around others. That makes it sound like a social anxiety problem, but it’s really just a different context, because I could easily sing to those same people.
My whole life, I have been so freaking tired of people telling me to relax and not be nervous when they hear me stutter. Because I am relaxed and I am not nervous. I am just speaking and my brain doesn’t want to cooperate. People assume that because you stutter in some situations and not others, that anxiety is to blame. But, like Scott Adams, I generally do fine when public speaking. It’s talking with one person on the phone that does me in. I could sing any day of the week. You wouldn’t want me to, and you might have to politely leave the room to protect your ears, but my brain would get the words of the song out just fine. Some sounds are trickier than others. Am I just more nervous about the letter “s” than the letter “m”? Possibly, but who’s not a little wary of “s”?
I don’t know what, if any, research has been done linking these things and looking at how our brain processes speech based on different contexts. I do know that rhyming wouldn’t work for everyone, because the contexts that the brain has trouble with differs from person to person. But it could be that a contextual change of some kind could help get the brain back on track for many people. I’m not a scientist, of course, although I could put my hair in a bun, put on my glasses, and hold a clipboard convincingly. It’s an interesting idea. The rewriring the brain idea, not the dress up scientist one.
OK, both ideas may deserve some research.