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Mitrani, J. (2010). Minding the gap between neuroscientific and psychoanalytic understanding of autism. J. Child Psychother., 36(3):240-258.

(2010). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 36(3):240-258

Minding the gap between neuroscientific and psychoanalytic understanding of autism

Judith Mitrani

This paper offers an integrative approach to the increasingly complex puzzle of autistic spectrum disorders. The author demonstrates how the work of one group of neuroscientists in Parma, on a special class of brain cells called ‘mirror neurons', and the work of researchers at the University of California in San Diego, applying these findings to the problem of autism, intersect with Frances Tustin's discoveries about the nature, function and meaning of psychogenic autism in children and even autistic states in neurotic adults. Included in the author's considerations are the results of some by now well-known studies conducted by a group of biologists at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1960s on the effects of ‘enriched’ versus ‘deprived’ environments upon the development of the brain, and a study of autistic children diagnosed as brain damaged and treated psychoanalytically at the Paediatric Neuro-Psychiatric Institute of the University of Rome in the 1980s. The author concludes with a coherent picture of various dimensions of autistic phenomenon that may constitute more than just the sum of its parts, and points towards new areas for discussion and study.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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