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Meltzer, D. (1975). Chapter I: Aims, Scope and Methods of the Investigation. Explorations in Autism: A Psycho-Analytical Study, 3-5.

Meltzer, D. (1975). Chapter I: Aims, Scope and Methods of the Investigation. Explorations in Autism: A Psycho-Analytical Study, 3-5

Section A: Theory

Chapter I: Aims, Scope and Methods of the Investigation Book Information Previous Up Next

Donald Meltzer

This small book is not intended as an exhaustive study of a particular pathological syndrome. It is perhaps more like a traveller's tale than a report of scientific inquiry. We can give the compass bearings we followed, the equipment we took and the experience of past travels which served as the basis of our judgments. The rest is all description of the terrain and inhabitants, flora and fauna, and the adventures along the way. Furthermore it is all hindsight, for we planned nothing of the sort in advance and only thought to organize ourselves as a group for the purpose of review, and later for the writing up and publication of our experiences.

In fact the children being described in later chapters were among the most interesting of a somewhat larger group of children treated by the psycho-analytical method in private or in clinics over a period from 1960 to 1970. The two items which the various cases had in common were (a) the therapists had all been trained in the psycho-analytical method of child therapy as developed by Melanie Klein; and (b) they all came into supervision from time to time with one of us (D. M.) because he was known to have a special interest in autistic children and to have had some experience of their treatment by the psycho-analytical method. As the clinical work progressed at its own pace and new realizations made their appearance in one child's treatment after another, it began to become apparent that a definitive view of autism was taking shape which differed greatly from anything previously suggested in the literature of psycho-analysis or child psychiatry. The Melanie Klein Trust then gave us a grant to review the experience as a research group in 1967, which injunction we carried out for three years in bi-weekly seminars. The fruits of this work trickled into print in several papers, to a congress of pediatric psychiatry at Rome (D. M.), to the British Psychological Association (D. M.), to the Association of Child Psychotherapists (S. H.), to an International Congress of Psycho-analysis (D. M.).

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