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May 05 , 2009

Autism in Childhood and Autistic Features in Adults

A Psychoanalytic Perspective


This is the first collection of papers published in this country which spans work with autistic children and autistic features in adults. The links between the two groups make for fascinating reading and go some way to explain the widespread interest in the enigma of autism. Many of the adult patients described are less ill than autistic children whose development has ground to a halt at an early age, but at the core of their difficulties can be found autistic features remarkably similar to those of the more floridly disturbed children. This leads several writers to conclude that autistic features are to be found in many adults, some would say in all of us. The insights contained in these papers open up access to deep levels of the human psyche and have far-reaching clinical implications.'This collection draws together papers which are central to today's psychoanalytic understanding of childhood autism and of autistic aspects of adult patients. Some of these papers are classics in the field while others describe more recent advances in understanding and technique. They show a broad range of psychoanalytic ideas and a variety of views... With autism, as with other conditions, the heart and the sustaining interest of psychoanalytic work lies in the relationship between the individual's symptoms and his personality and creative capacities. There may be a danger that the similarity of some of the presenting features and major anxieties shown by children on the autistic spectrum can obscure the fact of each child being different, having his own identity, and of the autism being interwoven with the individual personality in a unique way in every case. Psychoanalytic work with autistic children, or adults with autistic features, is a way of understanding their need to retreat from inner and external reality. When their fears can be faced, this can free them, to some extent and in varying degrees, to join the human family: to develop their own personalities, emotional lives and capacities for thought, imagination and relationships with other human beings.' - From the IntroductionThe section on work with children includes chapters by Frances Tustin, Maria Rhode, Paul Barrows, Didier Houzel and David Simpson. In the field of work with adults, there are contributions by Frances Tustin, Sydney Klein, Thomas Ogden, Noemi and Pualuan de Gomberoff, Kate Barrows and Caroline Polmear. Autism in Childhood and Autistic Features in Adults is part of the Psychoanalytic Ideas series, which brings together the best of Public Lectures and other writings given by members of the British Psychoanalytical Society on important psychoanalytic subjects. In addition, this volume includes papers by eminent child psychotherapists and psychoanalysts from several different countries and psychoanalytic traditions.
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