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How are the PWS and the stuttering portrayed?

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

This article is part 3 of the project. Read the introduction to the project here.

The numbers we mention are from the 139 reviews gathered until the 15th of July.

After the introduction of the project and the article about the movie list, here are the results concerning how PWS and stuttering are portrayed, and about the information given.


In the reviewed movies the PWS appears at the beginning in 3 out of 4 movies, is mostly adult (18 to 60 years old) and has more than 30 minutes of screen time in a quarter of the reviewed movies – that is well represented we think. Also, in almost a quarter of the reviewed movies the PWS plays the lead role!

Estimated number of scenes the PWS plays in the movie: 23% more than 10 scenes and 21% most or all scenes.

About the stuttering

The stuttering is moderate in more than half of the movies while in 19% the stuttering is severe to very severe (where the PWS is almost incapable to speak).

In more than half of the movies the stuttering can be regarded as repetitions, in a third the PWS suffers from blocks, and in 10% we see prolongations and mixed forms.

About the (most seen) use of stuttering in the movies against the number of movies:

The PWS follows therapy or some kind of cure, or someone proposes these, in 11% of the movies. In these movies the therapies are genuine and/or realistic in 25%, also 25% are old fashioned therapies or methods that aren’t used anymore. Too bad that we didn’t find much that could be qualified as miracle cure in the movies except for the Norwegian movie Beatles (2014) in which love plays the trick, and A Fish Called Wanda (1988) where Ken, after ‘steamrollering’ Otto, shouts out “K-k-k-k-Ken. You bastard. Hey, I’ve lost my stutter. It’s gone. I can speak. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

There is an evolution in the stuttering during the course of the movie in about 20% of cases but in 75% it stays the same throughout the movie.


In 79% of the movies we think the information given about stuttering, PWS and therapies is correct but in 9% it is not. And is the stuttering portrayed consistent and believable? Yes in 77%, in 12% not; and in 3 movies it was faked.

To be continued…

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Change of Habit (1969) – drama/tragedy

In the doctor’s office severely stuttering Julio first meets the speech therapist played by Mary Tyler Moore who will give him (off-screen) realistic therapy. Julio is troubled; he comes from the “school with high walls and bars on the window” (prison probably) and at the end of the film we learn he is admitted to a psychiatric institution.

The Right Stuff (1983) – action/drama

The wife of an astronaut stutters moderately in only 2 scenes because she chooses not to speak most of the time.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988) – comedy

Ken has a very severe stutter that makes it very difficult to pronounce certain words.

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