John K. Cameron
Letter from Mr. Cameron to Ms. Jane Brody (Correspondent for the New York Times)
I am writing to you concerning what I believe to be a very important story. It is a story about conquering illness and coping with the medical establishment and their poor understanding of an ailment. It is also a story of complete recovery for many previously diagnosed, ‘hopeless’ cases. It is most of all a story about a Ph.D. in speech pathology in Los Angeles who is the second ‘Wizard of Westwood,’ not in UCLA basketball but in voices, a man who takes broken voices as well as broken lives and fixes them.
I know, because I have been through it…and I really believe this is a story that needs to be told because there are thousands of people with serious and disabling voice problems who are not finding much help from the medical community in the treatment of their problems. I know you have been one of the few journalists to cover this topic in the past.
In my case, my voice had often been scratchy and my throat sore for four or five years before a job change in late 1988 triggered a more acute problem. In my new job I was on the phone constantly and had recurrent laryngitis, was losing my voice, and had chronic neck and throat pains which did not subside. The pain was intense, so intense in fact that I had to leave that job in New York and go on disability while I saw scores of ear, nose and throat specialists in New York and Philadelphia who diagnosed everything from a ‘vocal stress point’ to ‘da New York throat.’ I went through intensive speech therapy twice with little result (basically relearning how to talk, no small order.) I was prescribed a host of medications to no effect and even saw chiropractors and a masseur to no avail. Over a 20-month period I saw 18 doctors. Tests revealed no tumors or serious structural problems but my pains continued and speech therapy did not seem to help. What became apparent during all of this is that many in the medical community know very little about voice, and as I have since learned, most M.D.’s have less than six hours of training in voice at major medical schools. Most of the recovery process is handled by doctors’ adjunct speech therapists who have varying theories, practices, and credentials. Moreover, shuttling between uninvolved doctors and various speech therapists can be a maddening process.
One voice specialist I met with during this process described the state of voice therapy in America today as ‘an absolute disaster.’ I think he is right. As a matter of fact, after spending $20,000 and 20 months looking for an answer to my problem, I am convinced he is right. That specialist’s name is Morton Cooper, Ph.D., and he is a world renowned vocal rehabilitation expert in Los Angeles. He has put me on the road to recovery. Cooper is a voice therapist who started his own practice 31 years ago after years of frustration in working with M.D.’s when Cooper was head of the Voice Outpatient Department at UCLA. Nothing the M.D.’s were trying, Cooper found, including voice therapy, medicines or surgery was consistently working. Using his direct vocal direct rehabilitation techniques (DVR), Cooper has successfully treated such people as entrepreneur Norton Simon, as well as actors Richard Crenna, O.J.. Simpson and Henry Fonda, among others. He has saved many careers and probably prevented many suicides because of his techniques of vocal rehabilitation.
Imagine not having a voice to depend on. Imagine having pain whenever you speak. Imagine having spastic dysphonia, or ‘monster voice,’ in which your voice sounds like you are gargling — or you have no voice at all! As a journalists who earns her living with her voice you can no doubt appreciate the physical and emotional trauma that would accompany such problems. And it can happen to you! Or anyone! Right now thousands of people are running to ear, nose and throat specialists who throw up their arms, ‘dish people off’ to other specialists, shun patients or give dubious treatments. Some of these ‘treatments’ include chewing on a golf ball, lifting chairs, and ‘chasing your voice around a room.’ One man I met almost had the roof of his mouth cut out by various ‘specialists!’ It is an amazing story of a fairly common problem (dysphonia) that is so poorly understood in medicine that many are suffering needlessly. it is also a story of a West Coast specialists, Dr. Cooper, who takes people from the medical mill, the health care junk pile, and FIXES THEM! I saw improvement in three days with Morton Cooper after 18 other doctors basically threw up their hands. There are dozens of high profile people, many in Hollywood, who will testify that they were helped too. People who have trouble with their speaking voices (as opposed to the problems of singers) seem to be particularly difficult to treat and Cooper is the ‘high priest’ of the speaking voice.
I think there are some miracles going on in Westwood and I think a lot of people could use this good news. There is help with the right professional. Most people probably experience voice loss at some point in their lives, probably only temporarily, but there are probably millions with regular voice dysfunction who do not even know they are speaking incorrectly and are abusing their voices. these people chronically clear their throats, have voice pain, or have regular voice fatigue. They may even get ‘monster voice’ or spastic dysphonia. Dysphonia is a common but often undiagnosed problem which long-term can be devastating to career and personal life.
I hope you will give this story idea serious consideration and I will be happy to assist you in any way that I might help.
JOHN K. CAMERON
The man who wrote the book Change Your Voice, Change Your Life saved my voice, my career and maybe even my life.
After working with Dr. Morton Cooper for just two weeks during the month of August, 1990, I have seen a dramatic improvement in my voice and a major reduction in pain. I noticed improvement with Dr. Cooper within three days after having seen 18 other health-care professionals over s 20-month period. These professionals included ENTs, speech therapists, singing teachers, neurologists, internists, psychiatrists, pain doctors, a masseur and chiropractors, among others.
Clearly there are some major problems in America today with vocal rehabilitation. Why is Dr. Cooper the only professional using these methods, which work? No one should have to go through what I went through.
I wholeheartedly encourage you to read Dr. Cooper’s text as I believe it may be the seminal piece in reforming vocal rehabilitation in the U.S. today and helping vocal abusers.
JOHN K. CAMERON