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Meltzer, D. (1975). Introduction. Explorations in Autism: A Psycho-Analytical Study, 33-34.

Meltzer, D. (1975). Introduction. Explorations in Autism: A Psycho-Analytical Study, 33-34

Section B: The Clinical Findings

Introduction Book Information Previous Up Next

Donald Meltzer

The main body of the book now follows, and is composed of the individual clinical reports by the various therapists of the research group. In addition there is a chapter by the editor (D.M.) relevant to the mutism of autistic children but drawing its clinical material from the psycho-analytical treatment of schizophrenic and manic-depressive patients in late adolescence. No effort has been made to restrict the individual authors within an overall framework of exposition, and for this reason a certain amount of overlap will appear in the descriptions of the children and their analytic material. But in a way this is all to the good, for it not only enriches the concepts by multiplying the illustrations with small variations, but also serves to bind together the group of children being described. It will be seen that we have been at no pains to establish the diagnosis of Early Infantile Autism by the usual psychiatric nosological canons, but have rather left this issue to sort itself out descriptively. In the long run we ourselves found the homogeneity of the material, the evolution of the transference and the revelation of central conflicts, to be both surprising and convincing in relation to our earlier doubts and debates.

It will also appear that the order of presentation has sorted itself out with internal logic, from the most ill child, Timmy, to the most recovered, Piffie. But the logic goes further than this. Taken in order, Timmy illustrates the illness itself; John the central conflict and mental pain by which it has been precipitated; Barry the defective structure of personality which develops in consequence; and Piffie the interferences with learning and adjustment which result. Taken separately, they are very different from one another.

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