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Anzieu, D. (1993). Autistic Phenomena and the Skin Ego. Psychoanal. Inq., 13(1):42-48.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 13(1):42-48

Autistic Phenomena and the Skin Ego

Didier Anzieu, Ph.D.

Ellen Stockdale's paper is very interesting thanks to both the abundance and the precision of the details she noted with regard to her disorder (secondary autism at the age of 28) as well as to the interaction between her psychotherapy and her activity as a healer of patients afflicted with primary autism. The patients have served her as a mirror through which she could learn to know herself. This learning process was especially important inasmuch as one of the problems she suffered from was her difficulty to mirror, as a response, the gestures, attitudes, and nonverbal behaviors of others.

Stockdale's observations were written from a cognitive point of view. She assumes that the ensemble of the observed facts accounts for our distortion of social perception, which, in its turn, is due to a congenital biogenetic defect. The patient says she concealed this distortion through a split in her personality. The distortion became manifest during a crisis precipitated by a double failure in love relationships, one hetero- and the other homosexual in nature. The cure is attributed to “learning processes” exercised by the therapist and colleagues at work.

My perspective is different. My approach is psychoanalytic.

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