Medicine: Halting Words

Fresh from Cornell University Medical College in 1902, Dr. James Sonnett Greene received his first patient: a youth of 20 who stuttered. Between agonizing pauses and machine-gun bursts of repeated consonants, the boy asked what could be done for him. Young Dr. Greene had heard nothing about speech difficulties in medical school. He told the patient to return in a few days; he would try to find out what could be done. But the boy did not come back. He killed himself.

Haunted by his inability to help that first patient, Dr. Greene decided...

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