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Benvenuto, S. (2019). Autism: A Battle Lost by Psychoanalysis. DIVISION/Rev., 19:26-32.

(2019). DIVISION/Review, 19:26-32


Autism: A Battle Lost by Psychoanalysis

Sergio Benvenuto

For some time now, in many countries (including Italy and France), those who detest psychoanalysis-organic psychiatrists, cognitivists, evolutionary psychologists-take up autism as their main argument to launch a massive attack on psychoanalysis. They say: autistic individuals, children and adults, should not be entrusted to the care of psychoanalysts because the psychoanalytic theory of autism has been proved wrong. Better to resort to other techniques, perhaps of a cognitive-behavioral type, to rehabilitation systems such as applied behavior analysis.

I must warn that my practice is that of a psychoanalyst. I believe that psychoanalytic theory is very powerful and unjustly underestimated by many psychologists and psychiatrists today. I believe this type of therapy, if carried out correctly, is a powerful system of treatment. In short, I cannot be suspected of being a Freud-eater. I do however believe that until now, psychoanalytic theories on autism have been failures. Amicus Freudus, sed magis amica veritas.

Those who are against psychoanalysis have chosen to focus precisely on the psychoanalysis of autism and not on other psychoanalytic approaches-for instance on neuroses, psychoses, perversions, psychopathy-because they sense that autism is the Achilles' heel of psychoanalysis. And that psychoanalysis does not adequately deal with this heel. Just as in any war, the enemy is attacked in its weakest spot.

1. The fragility of psychoanalytic theories on autism thus far developed does not so much depend on the weakness of its etiopathogenesis, as its detractors think.

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