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Skorczewski, D. Bergman, A. (2005). Getting Attica Out of Her Mind: A Psychoanalytic Memoir. Am. Imago, 62(3):315-338.

(2005). American Imago, 62(3):315-338

Getting Attica Out of Her Mind: A Psychoanalytic Memoir

Dawn Skorczewski and Anni Bergman

This psychoanalytic memoir of trauma, treatment, and creative growth begins when Rosie was admitted to the Masters Children's Center in 1960, at the age of three, to participate in a project on autism designed by Dr. Manuel Furer and Margaret Mahler in which Anni Bergman was a participating analyst. Mahler was experimenting with a tripartite treatment design, which was built on the premise that autistic children had “never formed a symbiotic relationship with their mothers from which the process of separation-individuation, culminating in the achievement of object constancy, could evolve” (Bergman 1989). Mahler believed that by working with the mother separately, with the mother and child together, and with the child separately an autistic child could be lured from a cocoon of fantasy and self-protection by the therapist; only then might the mother's initial visceral connection to the child (and hers to the mother) be reestablished, allowing normal development to resume. Rosie's parents were hopeful that the Masters Program would help with Rosie's failure to speak, her wild behavior, and her sleepless nights, all of which caused them great emotional distress and created a chaotic atmosphere in the home. They were willing to bring Rosie to the center four times per week, and to remain in the two-and-a-half-hour sessions with Rosie. The treatment largely involved Rosie and her mother, although her father was very supportive to the process.

Rosie was in treatment for a period of sixteen years. She then married, moved to Asia, and raised two children. When she lived abroad, she kept in contact with Bergman via telephone calls, letters, paintings, and diaries, and also scheduled analytic sessions during her yearly vacations.

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