1st Edition

From Autism and Mutism to an Enlivened Self A Case Narrative with Reflections on Early Development

    190 Pages
    by Routledge

    190 Pages
    by Routledge

    From Autism and Mutism to an Enlivened Self explores the importance of intimacy, interaction with the environment and the mind-body connection in early childhood development, with specific reference to autism. Built around a detailed case study of a severely autistic child, the book offers an illuminating account of the development and successful treatment of autism both from the perspective of the clinician and from the family.

    In Part I, Diana Thielst (writing under a pseudonym) gives a description of her experience with her daughter who was autistic at birth, minimally verbal at age five, and did not respond to her name. She details the severe family stress and her ineffectual attempts to get professional help. Finally, she hears of consultants who may be able to help in St. Petersburg, Russia. Guided by the consultants, Thielst and her daughter then embark on a uniquely innovative method for Anna to both build a vocabulary and for the first time learn the value of coordinated and cooperative effort. Armed with a vocabulary and a long history of solo pursuits of organizing inanimate objects, Anna suddenly begins to explore "human" interaction as revealed in comics– a turning on to an emotional life of relatedness and intimacy.

    In Part II, Joseph D. Lichtenberg uses his knowledge of neonate and early infancy to offer the reader an understanding of autism – its history – and a unique comparison of the normal well adapted neonate and infant at one year with the disrupted development of the child with autism. Lichtenberg’s theoretical construct of three major pathways to a healthy adapted development breaks new theoretical ground and gives enrichment to a contemporary portrayal of the autistic experience.

    With unusually rich clinical material grounded in accessible theory, the authors jointly offer a new perspective on understanding, treating and living with autism. From Autism and Mutism to an Enlivened Self will appeal to psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic psychotherapists and clinicians working with autistic children.

    Part I: IntroductionAnna Chapter 1: From missing relationship at birth to missing name and language at age 5 Chapter 2: The four critical months before the 6th birthday: from learning her name to reading to learning to speak in 1000 hours Chapter 3: New life begins: discovering the world beyond Legos and puzzles 1992 Spring to 1993 Fall Chapter 4: Coming to America becomes a window to the world

    Part II: Commentary on Two Remarkable Journeys – One Therapeutic for Dr. Diana Thielst and Anna; and One of Discovery for Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis; Section 1: The Recognition of Autism as a Developmental Disorder; Kanner’s Approach;  A Comment on Terms; The Etiology of Early Infantile Autism; Two Other Experiences of Children with Autism; Gus: To Siri with Love: Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness Of Machines (Newman, J. 2017); Owen: Life Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism (Suskind, R., 2014); Interest and Purpose: Expanding the Scope of Being a Doer Doing Section 2: At Birth What Becomes Activated in Normal Development and Fails to Become Activated in Neonates with Autism; Comparing Adaptive Qualities and Capacities Normally Emerging in the First Year of Life with the More Limited Resources of the One-Year-Old Infant with Autism; Section 3: A Doer Doing and The Core Sense of Self; Infant-Mother Face to Face Interactions and the Development of Conversational Language; Faces – The Pathway to Intimacy; Inanimate Objects – The Pathway To Mastery; The Pathway to a Healthy Body, Physical Functioning, and Mind-Body Connection; Turning on to Human Relatedness; The Turn on of Adapting Infants; Early Steps that Unfold and Integrate in Adaptive Development


    Joseph D. Lichtenberg, M.D., is Editor-in-Chief of Psychoanalytic Inquiry, Director Emeritus of the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, past President of the International Council for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, and a member of the Program Committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

    Diana Thielst, M.D., is a pseudonym under which the co-author of this book is writing about the treatment of her autistic daughter. She is a scientist and musician.

    "For any parent of a child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, this is a must-read book. Part I movingly narrates a child’s gradual emergence from a world cut off from emotional intimacy into one in which she blossoms as a vitally alive, creative human being. Anna’s story, as movingly told by her mother, Dr Diana Thielst, demystifies an autistic developmental state, despite facing a barrage of social opprobrium and blame from family and professionals.

    In Part II, Lichtenberg employs a developmental perspective to explicate the modes of human relatedness harnessed by Dr Thielst to facilitate Anna’s emerging sense of self in relationship with others in her social world. In a clear, precise and masterful way, he details the interactive, intersubjective, and relational components active in Dr Thielst’s and Anna’s relationship that reawakened in Anna a sense of emotional relatedness, and fostered her impressive adaptive development. This book will be an indispensable resource for professionals working in this field and is warmly recommended." – Paul Renn, Forum for Independent Psychotherapists, author of The Silent Past and the Invisible Present: Memory, Trauma, and Representation in Psychotherapy