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S.A.Michel
01-09-2014, 01:34 AM
So I won't bore you with preambles in my WIP... but scientifically speaking, what would be a viable way to make sure somebody is made unable to speak (and make any sounds that involve the voice). I had considered simply freezing vocal chords, but apparently this does not remove the voice entirely, plus it has other side effects such as high risk of choking since the vocal chords to more than just aid in speaking. That is... perhaps a way of deliberately causing aphasia, but in a way that only takes away the ability to speak/produce sounds, not to understand language. Also... ideally this would be "permanent" but also viably reversible.

Any and all help greatly appreciated! ^-^

ironmikezero
01-09-2014, 01:50 AM
If you don't want to get too detailed, go with a generic head injury (trauma, concussion, mild stroke, etc...). Figure out what your story really needs - does it have to be related to a plot incident, etc..?

wendymarlowe
01-09-2014, 01:55 AM
If you're looking for something one character can do to another, cutting out the tongue seems to be a time-honored method :-\ If you're looking for something more along the "misfortune" line, many kinds of brain damage would do the trick - traumatic head injury, asphyxiation, etc. The brain is incredibly complex and interconnected, so pretty much any head injury *could* plausibly cause speech problems. It would be lousy way to induce them on purpose, however . . .

CoolBlue
01-09-2014, 02:01 AM
unable to speak (and make any sounds

It will help to know the genre, and setting, but: To not make ANY sound, the only thing that will work is a mechanical issue, not neurological.

So, you're talking surgically removing the cords, a tumour, that sort of thing. A device inserted surgically?

Hopefully, it's SciFi? :)

CB

SophieB
01-09-2014, 02:05 AM
Mike is right- trauma will do it, and since there's a wide range of results, you can make up your own timeline of recovery, including complications. There's a lot neuroscience can't yet explain, too, so some fascinating and mysterious jumps occur.

As for the paralyzed vocal chords, there's also a range there. I'm an RN, and have personal AND professional experience with the condition. Some people ARE completely unable to speak. I couldn't make a single sound for several days- NOTHING. Thrilling for my kids, but ve-e-ery odd and somewhat inconvenient for me. "Danger of choking" is true, but take it with a grain of writerly salt... there is always the danger of choking when eating or drinking. Most ppl with permanent or semi-permanent paralysis of vocal chords eat and drink normally, though they are encouraged to do so slowly, mindfully, and in smaller pieces than usual.

Your character might want to avoid sleeping on his back for the duration.

PS- In my case, I felt more discomfort than pain. It's almost stretching it to say "discomfort"- it felt strange, like a big block at the "back of my throat".
Hope this helps.

Lil
01-09-2014, 02:24 AM
How about scared speechless? Psychological or emotional trauma rather than physical.

CoolBlue
01-09-2014, 02:28 AM
How about scared speechless? Psychological or emotional trauma rather than physical.

Yes!

Most cases of complete, yet temporary/reversible mutism are NOT organic. Not that it cannot happen, just that it is not likely.

CB

King Neptune
01-09-2014, 02:33 AM
Destroy Broca's region in the brain. It is a region of the brain above the left ear, and it appears to translate thoughts into words. Destroying it would make it impossible for the person to use language, but it probably would not be reversible.

CoolBlue
01-09-2014, 02:40 AM
Destroy Broca's region in the brain. It is a region of the brain above the left ear, and it appears to translate thoughts into words. Destroying it would make it impossible for the person to use language.

Not OP's question.

CB

King Neptune
01-09-2014, 02:54 AM
Not OP's question.

CB

Yes, it probably isn't the answer desired, but it would fit the specs.

CoolBlue
01-09-2014, 04:17 AM
Destroy Broca's region in the brain. It is a region of the brain above the left ear, and it appears to translate thoughts into words. Destroying it would make it impossible for the person to use language, but it probably would not be reversible.

...

it would fit the specs.



The specs, as I understand them, are:


a way of deliberately causing aphasia, but in a way that only takes away the ability to speak/produce sounds, not to understand language. Also... ideally this would be "permanent" but also viably reversible.

1. Unable to make a sound
2. Able to understand language
3. Reversible.

I am not sure that destroying Broca's area would suffice to satisfy those specs. In fact, it would satisfy the negation both #1 and #3 above.

1. Damage to Broca's area does not prevent making sounds, they are just meaningless.
2. Will be able to understand language
3. Not reversible, although there may be some improvement over time, as following a stroke.

HTH

CB

King Neptune
01-09-2014, 05:15 AM
The specs, as I understand them, are:



1. Unable to make a sound
2. Able to understand language
3. Reversible.

I am not sure that destroying Broca's area would suffice to satisfy those specs. In fact, it would satisfy the negation both #1 and #3 above.

1. Damage to Broca's area does not prevent making sounds, they are just meaningless.
2. Will be able to understand language
3. Not reversible, although there may be some improvement over time, as following a stroke.

HTH

CB

Will not be able to make or understand any linguistic sound or written language, and, as I mentioned above it almost certainly would not be reversible.

It would remove all ability to use language, and that exceeds the specifications. The matter of reversibility was an extra that the poster was looking for. The only way that it does not fit the specs is that the person would still be able to make sounds, but there would have to be sound making ability left.

I wonder if there might be a way to shut down that part of the brain for a while.

S.A.Michel
01-09-2014, 10:45 AM
Oh, thanks guys! These are all really helpful...


It will help to know the genre, and setting, but: To not make ANY sound, the only thing that will work is a mechanical issue, not neurological.

So, you're talking surgically removing the cords, a tumour, that sort of thing. A device inserted surgically?

Hopefully, it's SciFi? :)

CB

It is indeed sci-fi! (Dystopian, specifically). I apologize for forgetting that detail.
In the story, one individual seeks to create an army of completely "silent" soldiers. Which is why head trauma and such would be tricky, since it would have to be a predictable and easily repeatable process. The idea I had up until now was a necklace that would somehow paralyze the vocal chords (either by injecting something that paralyzes them consistently, or by electrically disabling them so they don't work), but the idea seemed a little less viable because of the issues I mentioned above... until I read Sophie's comment, anyway:




As for the paralyzed vocal chords, there's also a range there. I'm an RN, and have personal AND professional experience with the condition. Some people ARE completely unable to speak. I couldn't make a single sound for several days- NOTHING. Thrilling for my kids, but ve-e-ery odd and somewhat inconvenient for me. "Danger of choking" is true, but take it with a grain of writerly salt... there is always the danger of choking when eating or drinking. Most ppl with permanent or semi-permanent paralysis of vocal chords eat and drink normally, though they are encouraged to do so slowly, mindfully, and in smaller pieces than usual.


Would said necklace idea, then, be viable?

CoolBlue
01-09-2014, 10:51 AM
It is indeed sci-fi! (Dystopian, specifically).
Would said necklace idea, then, be viable?

YES!!

No need to use a drug, just some form of EMR/techno that inhibits the nerves. They will still be able to make soft sounds - think "heavy breathing".

HTH
CB

Once!
01-09-2014, 01:22 PM
Low tech - wire a sound-sensitive necklace to either a pain-causing device (if you are feeling sadistic) or a bomb (if you're feeling very sadistic). Any soldier who speaks will get either an electric shock or a bad case of exploding head.

Okay, okay so we would have to include some computer trickery inside the necklace which would differentiate between speech from the soldier and overheard speech from someone else. We can't have our drill instructor accidentally decapitating an entire squad by shouting too loud!

That's how I would do it. If I was a senior manager in a dystopian future with an army of speechless soldiers.

wendymarlowe
01-09-2014, 06:40 PM
Low tech - wire a sound-sensitive necklace to either a pain-causing device (if you are feeling sadistic) or a bomb (if you're feeling very sadistic). Any soldier who speaks will get either an electric shock or a bad case of exploding head.

Okay, okay so we would have to include some computer trickery inside the necklace which would differentiate between speech from the soldier and overheard speech from someone else. We can't have our drill instructor accidentally decapitating an entire squad by shouting too loud!

That's how I would do it. If I was a senior manager in a dystopian future with an army of speechless soldiers.

So essentially a bark collar? :-P

(Actually, most bark collars work by picking up vibrations from the dog's throat, for just this very reason. One of my teachers in HS had two quiet dogs and one barky one, and got a bark collar for the loud one. The other two quickly learned that they could sneak up behind the loud one and bark into her collar, giving her a shock. My teacher's dogs were kind of jerks.)

GailD
01-11-2014, 02:13 AM
If you're looking for something reversible to create aphasia, you might like to use hypnosis.

There are a lot of misconceptions about hypnosis - the most common is that someone can be hypnotized into doing something against their will. (The Svengali (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svengali)
effect.) This is not true in reality but....

In the context of your story, if the soldiers are willing to undergo hypnosis and motivated to accept suggestions, and the hypnotist is skilled, then you would be able to render your army incapable of speech for a period of time.

If you like the idea, bear in mind that:

1. Suggestions to a hypnotized subject will wear off after a period of time.

2. Not everyone has the same degree of susceptibility to hypnosis - so the procedure may need to be repeated with some individuals.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svengali)