Dougal Campbell's geek ramblings

WordPress, web development, and world domination.

Dilbert Creator Hacks His Own Brain

Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, has been suffering from an unusual condition for the last 18 months. It’s called Spasmodic Dysphonia, and essentially its a condition where your brain forgets how to talk. You may still be able to communicate by other means, singing, for example (because different portions of the brain are used to process singing than for normal speech). But for some individuals, normal everyday speech becomes limited, or impossible. Permanently, according to doctors.

My family and friends have been great. They read my lips as best they can. They lean in to hear the whispers. They guess. They put up with my six tries to say one word. And my personality is completely altered. My normal wittiness becomes slow and deliberate. And often, when it takes effort to speak a word intelligibly, the wrong word comes out because too much of my focus is on the effort of talking instead of the thinking of what to say. So a lot of the things that came out of my mouth frankly made no sense.

To state the obvious, much of life’s pleasure is diminished when you can’t speak. It has been tough.

After trying a few things, and discovering that he could still do public speaking in front of crowds (his loss was limited to normal, casual speech), he decided to experiment with the boundaries of his condition and see if he could force his brain to re-map his speaking ability. The amazing thing is, it worked. Essentially, he hacked his brain.

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal is a web developer, and a "Developer Emeritus" for the WordPress platform. When he's not coding PHP, Perl, CSS, JavaScript, or whatnot, he spends time with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat in their Atlanta area home.
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