Albert Liebmann


Albert Liebmann was an otolaryngologist and speech doctor who lived and worked in Berlin at the turn of the 19th century. He was a colleague of Hermann Gutzmann Sr. (Reiber and Froeschels, 1956).

Liebmann classified children with speech/language disorders into three categories (borrowed from adult aphasia literature):

A fourth type of childhood language disorder proposed by Liebmann was not part of Horstummheit. He called it agrammatism. These children had difficulties with grammatical relations and syntactic structures that were associated with articulation defects “last remainder of an articulation defect.” The child’s pronunciation has gradually become correct, but he cannot inflect words correctly or combine them in ordered sentences” (Liebmann, 1898, p. 83 cited in Weiner, 1986, p. 22).

Liebmann’s felt that childhood language disorders were due to deficits of attention and memory in specific sensory spheres.

Liebmann also wrote on cluttering. His was the first book dedicated to the topic (1930). According to Liebmann, the clutterer suffers from an auditory inattentiveness. He has defective observation of his speech, which accounts for the small number of clutterers who appear at speech clinics. This inability of the clutterer to notice his speech trouble is very much in contrast to the stutterer who is so conscious of his speech. And incidentally, it has been noted that in the public school speech clinics, where students are enrolled in clinic through recommendation by the teachers, a significant number of clutterers may be found (Froeschels on Liebmann, 1946, p. 32).

Henry Freund, a patient of Liebmann’s wrote of Liebmann’s approach to stuttering therapy:

Also at that time, I met Albert Liebmann, who based his therapy on unison speaking. He was the teacher of Froeschels and a famous speech pathologist, who specialized in stuttering. Unfortunately, when I met him, he had suffered several strokes and showed their effects. Nevertheless, he was an inspiring person and I still remember vividly what he used to tell the stutterers who came to him: "One day you will bless the hour when you became a stutterer because you will find that stuttering was the stepping stone that led to your inner self-liberation." Liebmann helped me realize that we are inclined to concentrate too much on the evils of stuttering and to overlook the fact that it can also enrich the life of a stutterer, by opening to him many inner vistas of understanding, empathy, and creativity (Van Riper on Freund, 1984)

The general sequence of Liebmann’s therapy was to first eliminate physical defects, if possible, then to correct central defects and, finally, the to work on speech. Once the central abilities and speech skills were developed, it was possible to move to the use of full sentences. Therapies for central defects involve exercises to develop attention and memory (Weiner, 1986).


Liebmann, A. (1898) The Examination and Treatment of Mentally Backward Children

Liebmann A. (1930). Cluttering (paraphrasia praeceps). Zeitschrift fur die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie. (in German).

Rieber, R. & Froeschels, E. (1956) An historical review of the European literature in speech pathology. In R. Riebr & R. Brubaker (Eds.) Speech Pathology. J.B. (pp. 5-41). Lippincott,

Van Riper, C. (1984) Henry Freund: 1896-1982. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 9, 2, 93-102.

Weiner, P. (1986) The study of childhood language disorders: Nineteenth century perspectives. Journal of Communication Disorders, 19, 1, 1-47.