James Sonnett Greene


James Sonnett GreeneJames Sonnett Greene, a laryngologist and "speech doctor" was the Founder and Director of the National Hospital for Speech Disorders in New York, a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society. He published a monthly newsletter called "Talk" that forwarded his views of stuttering and voice disorders. The newsletter began in 1920 and continued through 34 issues to 1957.

Greene was born in New York City on December 25, 1880. He received his medical degree at Cornell University in 1902. He began a clinical practice in 1902. Between 1906 and 1912 he did post graduate studies at the University of Berlin, at the Allerheilegen Hospital in Breslau, and the University of Jena with renown "speech doctors” who specialized in the speech and language problems of children and adults. One of Greene's mentors in Germany was the internationally famous pioneer in speech, Hermann Gutzmann, Senior.

In 1916 Greene returned to America and established a speech practice that he called the National Hospital of Speech Disorders. This free clinic was located in old residence at 143 east 37th street in New York City. Albert Bigelow Paine, a poet and a biographer of Mark Twain, was one of Greene's enthusiastic clients. Paine describes the Greene's clinic as follows:

When I arrived, the large front room was filled with boys and girls going through some calesthenic exercises.In the upper rooms I found many more, advanced groups, one of them a "public speaking class." (Paine, 1932, p. vii)

The Ephphatha Club, an association of "Good Speech and Good Cheer", was already going, with crowded weekly meetings where those who wished to do so could demonstrate their progress by addressing their fellow members.We started a magazine-also of "good speech and good cheer"-called "Talk," Then came the Greene Club, a more advanced group with arranged programs, including a specially selected speaker, to be followed by discussion of his subject. Greene Club members were ready to face the world-many of them were already doing it, with a new outlook on life, new and better jobs. And, yes, there was a kindergarten (Paine, 1932, p. viii).

After a few years, thanks to a gift from philanthropist August Heckscher, Greene opened a larger clinic on the upper east side in NYC (104th and Fifth Avenue, the current location of el Museo de Barrio). The clinic was on the fourth floor of the August Heckscher Foundation building. Also in the building were offices of the Heckscher's Children's Foundation. Greene called his new clinic the National Hospital for Speech Disorders.

Paine describes the clinic's opening and facilities thusly:

There was a great gathering at which the new clinic was opened with Mr. and Mrs. Hecksher present to receive thanks, in speech perfectly uttered by those who only a few months before would have willingly died rather than utter a single sentence before that great audience.

The Ephphatha Club has a wonderful assembly hall, now; the Greene Club has a room of its own, and there is a Seligman Club devoted to athletics, with a gymnasium and a swimming pool. As for the kindergarten, must to see that alone makes a trip to the new Clinic worth while (Paine, 1932, p. ix).

In 1919 Greene married Emilie Josephine Wells. In 1927 he and his wife coauthored a book called "Cause and cure of speech disorders". Greene moved his clinic around 1941to 61-63 Irving Place, NYC. In 1942, a client of his described the new facilities as follows:

It will be worth your time to visit this well-equipped, seven-story building at 61 Irving Place. You will be delighted with the atmosphere of ease, relaxation, and friendliness that prevails. If you go on a Wednesday night, wait for the meeting of the Ephphatha Club when several hundred stutterers gather together for a free-for-all in speech making (Greene, 1942, p. 1565).

Greene's published a number of articles on various aspects of speech disorders. His studies of voice disorders included the areas of the falsetto voice, the laryngectomized, and psychogenic and spastic dysphonia. He viewed the falsetto in young boys as psychosomatic (attachment to their mothers) as well as the "anthropological" (dysplastic body type) (Luchsinger & Arnold, 1965, p. 195). He also distinguished spastic dysphonia from the ventricular voice from psychogenic dysphonia (Greene, 1938a, 1939b, 1940, 1941, 1942). Finally, according to Luchsinger and Arnold, Greene was the first to use a workable electrolarynx with his laryngectomized patients (Greene, 1942; Luchsinger & Arnold, 1965, p. 297).

For stuttering, Greene advocated group therapy (1935). He argued that there were physical components to the disability (Greene, 1937a), but suggested therapy that was primarily related to eliminating fear of stuttering.

Greene, among others, was severely criticized by his contemporary John Madison Fletcher (1928) on several counts (The problem of stuttering: A diagnosis and a plan of treatment. NY: Longmans, Greene and Co.). Among Fletcher criticisms were that Greene made claims for his therapy successes without specific data to support those claims, that he forwarded information about conditions that were not accurate (e.g., claiming that all those with cleft palates had a problem with perceiving music), and that he was not sufficiently conversant with existing literature on speech disorders.

Writings of James Sonnet Greene, arranged chronologically

Greene, J. S. An experimental study of stuttering. American Journal of Psychology, 25, 203ff.

Greene, J. S. (1916). Stammering and stuttering. Volta Review, 18, 419-420.

Greene, J. S. (1916). Agitophasia associated with agitographia. Medical Record, 90, 754-757.

Greene, J. S. (1916). The mission of the speech specialist. Addresses and Proceedings of the National Education Association, 3, 364-867.

Greene, J. S. (1917). Kinaesthesia, a new aid ito the teaching of speech, English Journal, 6, 248-253.

Greene, J. S. (1918). Releasing the tongues of men: How speech defects are successfully cured at a free medical clinic for their treatment. Survey, 41, 65-67. (October 19, 1918).

Greene, J. S. (1921). Some mouth and jaw conditions responsible for defects in speech. Medical Record, 100, 8-12. July 2, 1921.

Greene, J. S. (1921). A departure in hospitals: The National hospital for speech disorders. Journal of American Medical Association, 77, 1726-1728. (November 26, 1921.

Greene, J. S. (1921). The falsetto voice in the male-with a demonstration of four cured cases. Laryngoscope, 31, 33-41 (January, 1921).

Greene, J. S. (1922). National hospital for speech disorders. Volta Review, 24, 223-227.

Greene, J. S. (1923). Some conclusions derived from the last five years' work at the National Hospital for Speech Disorders. Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, 57=62.

Greene, J. S. (1924). Problem of stutterer. New York State Journal of Medicine, 24, 337-339.

Greene, J. S. (1924). Your child's speech. Hygeia, 2, 693-696.

Greene, J. S., & Wells, E. J. (1927). The cause and cure of speech disorders: A textbook for students and teachers on stuttering, stammering and voice conditions. NY: Macmillan.

Greene, J. S. (1931). Stuttering: What about it? Proceedings of the American Speech Correction Association, 1, 165-175.

Greene, J. S. (1932). I was a stutterer: Stories from life. NY: Grafton. (Life stories of patients of Greene offering testimonials for how he cured them. Greene also provides commentary on the distinguishing features of each patient's stuttering.)

Greene, J. S. (1934). Good news for everyone who stutterers. Literary Digest (December), 118.

Greene, J. S. (1935). Stuttering--a nervous maladjustment, not a speech defect. Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey, 32, 693-697.

Greene, J. S. (1935). Treatment of the stutter type personality in a medical-social clinic. Journal of the American Medical Association, 104, 2239-2242 (June 22, 1935).

Greene, J. S. (1935). Treatment of the stutter-type personality in a medical-social clinic. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 81, 313-317.

Greene, J. S. (1936). The stutter-type personality and stuttering. New York State Journal of Medicine, 36, 757-765 (May 15, 1936).

Greene, J. S. (1936). Stutter-type personality and stuttering. Rehabilitation Review, 10, 176-193.

Greene, J. S. (1936). Treatment of stutter type personality in medical-social clinic. Rehabilitation Review, 10, 53-64.

Greene, J. S. (1936). Some mouth and jaw conditions responsible for defects in speech. Medical Practice, 1, 177.

Greene, J. S. (1937a). Dysphemia and Dysphonia: Cardinal features of three types of functional syndrome: Stuttering, aphonia, falsetto (male). Archives of Otolaryngology, 26, 74-82.

Greene, J. S. (1937b). Psychiatric therapy for dysphemia and dysphonia. Archives of Otolaryngology, 28, 308-311.

Greene, J. S. (1937c). The stutter-type child: The speech index of neurotic behavior. Journal of the American Medical Association, 109, 187-191 (July 17, 1937)

Greene, J. S. (1937d). Speech defects and related oral anomalies. Dental Cosmos, 24, 1969-1974. November 24.

Greene, J. S. (1938a). Psychiatric therapy in dysphemia and dysphonia: Stuttering, psychophonasthenia, aphonia, falsetto. Annals of Otology, Rhinology, & Laryngology, 47, 615-631.

Greene, J. S. (1938b). Psychiatric therapy for dysphonia, aphonia, psycho-phonasthenia, falsetto. Archives of Otolaryngology, 28, 213-221.

Greene, J. S. (1939a). Stuttering, a medical responsibility. Medical World, 57, 151-154.

Greene, J. S. (1939b). Speech and voice defects: Various syndromes. Journal of the Maine Medical Association, 30, 311.

Greene, J. S. (1940). Voice anomalies of hysteric origin. EENT Mon., 19, 105.

Greene, J. S. (1941). Psychophonasthenia syndrome. Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology, 50, 1177.

Greene, J. S. (1942). Functional speech and voice disorders. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 95, 299-309.

Greene, J. S. (1942). Stuttering: A psychosomatic disorder. New York State Journal of Medicine, 42, 1561-1565.

Greene, J. S. (1942). Rehabilitating the laryngectomized patient. Bulletin of the American Cancer Society, 24, #5.

Greene, J. S., & Small, S. M. (1944). Psychosomatic factors in stuttering. Medical Clinics in North America, 28, 615-628.

Greene, J. S. (1945). Speech and voice disorders due to oral and laryngeal defects. Transactions of the American Academy of Ophthalomology, 49, March-April, 1945.

Greene, J. S. (1946). Hope for the stutterer. Hygeia, 24, 120-121.

Greene, J. S. (1947). Interview group psychotherapy for speech disorders. In S. Slavson (Ed). The practice of group psychotherapy. NY: International University Press.

Greene, J. S. (1948). Straight talk (essays)

Greene, J. S. (1948). Vocal sequelae to oral and nasal conditions. Transactions of the American Laryngology, Rhinology, Otology Society

Greene, J. S. (1949). The postlaryngectomy clinic of the National Hospital for Speech Disorders: Statistical study of 300 patients. NY State Journal of Medicine, 49, 2398-2404.

Writings about Greene

Anon. (May 12, 1944) Larynx-less men speak: woman also has learned to talk with espophagus-man without a tongue is heard. The New York Times. (Article describes Greene's paper and demonstration Annual Meeting of the Medical Society of the State of New York. He brought a seventy-seven-year-old patient whose tongue had been removed because of cancer. The patient gave a presentation to the audience. He was able clearly articulate the Gettysburg address. Greene presented this as a refutation "the age-old idea that the tongue is the principal organ of speech.")

Copley, Frank (1920). Good news for the stutterer and other defectives in speech. American Magazine, 90, 32-33+. July, 1920.

Fletcher, John Madison (1928). The problem of stuttering: A diagnosis and plan of treatment (pp. 9-16). NY: Longmans, Green and Co.

Paine, Albert Bigelow (1932). Foreword to Greene's "I was a stutterer." (pp. v-x). NY: The Grafton Press.

Anneliese Steppat, a jeweler, was the director of art at the National Hospital for Speech Disorders.

Speech Rehabilitation Institute. (no date). Studies in tachyphema: An investigation of cluttering and general language disability. An investigation of cluttering and general language disability New York: Author.

Joseph P. Monge '37 ('38) of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., died May 20, 2000. Monge was retired from a 40-year career as vice chairman of International Paper Co. and chairman of Canadian International Paper Co. He was named by President Lyndon Johnson to the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, he served as Employer Committee chairman and Executive Committee member. He was also president and chairman of the New York Speech Rehabilitation Institute, director of the ICD Rehabilitation Institute and Research Center and of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and a member of the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies.

McClear, John E. (1964). Your Second Voice: A Manual of Esophageal Voice Instruction. NY: Speech Rehabilitation Institute.