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Hamilton, V. (1994). Anne Alvarez Live Company: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Autistic, Borderline, Deprived and Abused Children, London and New York: Tavistock/Routledge, 1992 £14.99 paperback. J. Child Psychother., 20(1):133-143.

(1994). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 20(1):133-143

Review

Anne Alvarez Live Company: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Autistic, Borderline, Deprived and Abused Children, London and New York: Tavistock/Routledge, 1992 £14.99 paperback

Review by:
Victoria Hamilton

Live Company is a beautifully written, carefully documented exposition of thirty years’ intensive psychoanalytic work by a highly accomplished child psychotherapist. In a modest way, sparing the reader none of the ‘horror, disbelief and boredom’ of this work, Alvarez describes her heroic efforts to reclaim ‘greenesse’ in the ‘shrivelled hearts’ of hopeless children — children who to all intents and purposes have become dead to the world. Some are autistic, others live on the tenuous border between sanity and madness; some have grown up in nice caring households, others have suffered gross injustices and indignities through abuse and deprivation.

There are sixteen chapters which take us through the ups and downs of treatment, charting the progress and regress of her patients, as well as the pathways and blind alleys of Alvarez’ personal analytic development. With unusual candour, Alvarez tells us about the psychoanalytic concepts which have helped as well as those which may have hindered her understanding. Where the language of psychoanalysis falls short, Alvarez turns to literature and to developmental psychology. For the psychoanalytic reader who enjoys the wider culture, the book is unusually imaginative as well as informative.

From the first chapter, ‘The long fall’, to the final chapter on the use of countertransference in relation to the ‘Rites and rituals of autism’, we follow Alvarez’ work with Robbie, an autistic boy who started treatment at age 4 and is now an adult of 30.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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