The purpose of this essay is to illustrate how the phenomenon of early childhood autism may cast light on issues that are central to our Understanding Of Normal Child Development - Issues Such As The Emotional origins of social experience and social understanding, the contribution of interpersonal relations to the genesis of symbolism and creative thought, and the role of intersubjectivity in the development of self. Drawing upon philosophical writings as well as empirical research on autism, the author challenges the individualistic and cognitive bias of much developmental psychology, and argues that early human development is founded upon a normal infant's capacity for distinct forms of "I - Thou" and "I - It" relatedness. To a large degree, autism may represent the psycho-pathological sequelae to biologically-based incapacities for social perception and interpersonal engagement.
Table of Contents
Preface -- 1. Prolegomena -- Introduction -- The Autistic Individual -- The Interpersonal Domain -- Self and Other -- The Capacity to Symbolise -- Explaining Autism -- The Perspective of Developmental Psychopathology -- 2. The Picture of Autism -- The Earliest Years -- The Cardinal Features of Autism -- Beyond Childhood -- Autism “From the Inside” -- 3. Interpersonal R elatedness I: The Norm al Infant -- Early Personal Relatedness -- Capacities for Social Perception -- The Development of Self -- Overview -- 4. Interpersonal R elatedness II: The Case of Autism -- Interpersonal Relatedness and Relationships -- Imitation -- Attachment -- Self-development -- Conclusion -- 5. The Growth of Interpersonal Understanding -- “Explicit” Interpersonal Understanding in Normal -- Development -- The Case of Autism -- Conclusion -- 6. Conceptual Issues I: On Understanding Minds -- “Theory of Mind” -- What it Means to Understand “Belief' -- Bodies and Minds -- Persons and Selves -- The Emotional Origins of Psychological Understanding -- 7. Conceptual Issues II: On Thought and Language -- The Nature of Thinking -- Perceiving, Acting, and Feeling -- The Nature of Symbolic Functioning -- Developing the Capacity to Symbolise -- The Interpersonal Origins of Symbolic Functioning -- Communication and Language -- Recapitulation -- 8. Thought and Language: The Case of Autism -- A Clinical Example -- A Theoretical Perspective -- The Capacity to Symbolise -- Language -- Analysing Communication -- Cognition Revisited -- 9. The Development of Mind and the Case of Autism -- The Normal Development of Mind — The Theoretical -- Challenge -- A Theory of Development -- The Case of Autism -- Congenital Blindness -- Epilogue -- References -- Author index -- Subject index.
'... the author presents a new and intriguing theory of human development...This book requires attention from all those interested in the theoretical basis of normal child development and especially those who also have an interest in autism...this is a valuable and thought provoking account. It challenges contemporary theories of child psychology and is sure to stimulate further discussion in the literature.' - John Swettenham, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry