Clinician's Digest

By DeFife, Jared | Psychotherapy Networker, September/October 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Clinician's Digest


DeFife, Jared, Psychotherapy Networker


Clinician's Digest

By Jared DeFife

Analysis for Autism?

What does a plastic toy crocodile have to do with autism? "The crocodile is the mother's belly, the mother's teeth," child psychoanalyst Genevieve Loison explains in an interview for director Sophie Robert's controversial new documentary The Wall: Psychoanalysis Put to the Test for Autism. "The goal of our work is to forbid her to eat."

The documentary spotlights current psychoanalytic views of autism in France, which echo the "refrigerator mother" theory dominating American thinking about autism and schizophrenia in the 1950s that damagingly blamed many mothers for the severe mental illness of their children. These views are raising concerns about how the developmental disorder is treated in that country.

Dozens of French psychoanalysts interviewed for the film espouse outdated and seemingly preposterous ideas about autism as a "psychotic" condition stemming from "maternal madness," parental frigidity, and gestational fantasies in utero. In response, many parents and advocacy groups are condemning France's psychoanalytic and institutional treatment methods for children with autismâ[euro]"still prevalent long after most other developed countries have shifted to behavioral and educational approachesâ[euro]"as dangerously reactionary and counterproductive.

Misguided mental health attitudes like those portrayed in The Wall can have dire consequences, especially for a disorder like autism, for which early diagnosis and treatment are essential for lasting success. Daniel Fasquelle, a French parliamentarian and mental health advocate, told the BBC that "if you diagnose early and then give the right treatment between the ages of 2 and 7, 70 percent of autistic children can acquire functional language skills. Here in France, we are way off that figure." Consequently, France has fallen drastically short in care for children with autism. According to French government reports, less than 20 percent of autistic French children attend school. In other developed countries, including the United States and Britain, nearly all autistic children go to school or receive special education. The problem is so bad that the European Committee of Social Rights issued a public condemnation of France's educational care for persons with autism in 2003.

French psychoanalysts in particular are receiving heavy flak, accused of creating and perpetuating a cultural mental health crisis. In a statement for the Association for Science in Autism Treatment, David Celiberti and Catherine Maurice remarked that the country's psychoanalytic community "has been unable to produce credible evidence for its assertions, has robbed children of their futures, and has abdicated responsibility for the harm they have caused families. . . . Children with autism deserve better."

Others feel that psychoanalysis is getting a bum rap. "The film [The Wall] is unfair," French psychoanalytic historian Elisabeth Roudinesco told the New York Times. "It is fanatically anti-psychoanalysis. But I don't think [Robert] manipulated the film to make them look ridiculous; rather, I think she chose to talk with very dogmatic psychoanalysts who come across as ridiculous." Asked what psychoanalysis has to offer autistic children, one analyst had this enigmatic answer for the filmmaker: "The pleasure of taking interest in a soap bubble. I can't answer anything else."

Three analysts successfully sued the filmmaker to have their interviews removed from the documentary. French psychoanalyst Eric Laurent said that "psychoanalysis is being used as a scapegoat" and that, although behavioral methods are effective, their circumscribed focus may fail to address other meaningful dimensions of autism.

WEIRD Science

Imagine a world populated by college undergraduates. A world filled with binge drinkers and sleep-deprived procrastinators tweeting their sexual exploits to virtual friends across the globe.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Clinician's Digest
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.