Hushed thunder

ABC Radio National has a fantastic programme on El, a 27 year old woman with selective mutism – essentially a speaking phobia that enforces an anxiety-driven silence with everyone except her family.

The documentary is deeply poignant but has several moments of sublime irony that really stopped me in my tracks.

El stopped speaking to anyone except her family as a young child and has spent the large part of her life not being able to utter a word to anyone else.

The programme details the painful impact this has had on her life, how she was verbally attacked by pupils and staff in school, and how she has found it difficult to get a job, or hasn’t been respected in the work she’s done.

In one aside, she mentions she has a degree in communication.

In my mind, a thousand stories were unfurled by the breeze of this simple fact.

El, by the way, is an incredibly articulate communicator. The photo to the right is one of her own artworks and her words, spoken by an actress, are clear and evocative.

The ending to the programme is like hushed thunder.

The documentary is part of an innovative ABC Radio National series entitled Stories of Silence that explores the many meanings of quiet.

Link to El’s story (via AITM Blog).

One Comment

  1. Posted June 20, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Did the programme give any idea how this mutism started and how it is maintained? It seems extraordinary that such a talented young woman should be suffering in this way.


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