Nameless: Understanding Learning Disability (Paperback) book cover


Understanding Learning Disability

By Dietmut Niedecken

Introduction by Mario Erdheim

© 2004 – Routledge

272 pages

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New in Paperback: 9781583919439
pub: 2004-11-11
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pub: 2003-09-18
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pub: 2004-06-02
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Is learning disability determined from birth?

Psychoanalysis has always striven to reconstruct damaged human subjectivity. However, with a few exceptions, people with learning disabilities have long been excluded from this enterprise as a matter of course. It has been taken for granted that learning disability is a deficient state in which psychodynamics play but a minor role and where development is irrevocably determined by organic conditions.

First published in German in 1980s and published here in English for the first time, this brave and provocative book was one of the first to attempt to understand learning disabilities in terms of psychoanalysis and socio-psychology. Controversially, the author does not distinguish between a primary organic handicap and a secondary psychological one; rather, she argues that it is developed from the very outset of the process of socialisation during the interaction of caregiver and infant, and therefore gives the analyst room to work on this maladapted socialisation. She illustrates the effectiveness of this theory when put into practice in a number of illuminating case studies.

Still as influential and powerful as when it was first published, Nameless will be of interest to psychoanalysts and clinicians from across the mental health services who work with people with learning disabilities.


It is hard to imagine anyone surfacing after immersion in this book without being deeply troubled and moved. - Stephen Frosh, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Centre for Psychological Studies, Dirkbeck College, University of London

Table of Contents

Introduction Mario Erdheim Part 1. 'Learning Disability' as an Institution and the Forgotten Human Dimension Part 2. The Interface between Institution and Fate Part 3. The Process of Developing Learning Disabilities. The Creation of Potential Space Part 4. The Enactment of Soul Murder. 'Little Mongols', 'Down's Children' or: The Contempt of Adjusted People. Autistic Perceptive Disorder and the Mystification of Resistance Part 5. From Anxiety to Technological Treatment Strategies. Impotence, the Taboo of Hate and Conditioning Fear of the Void and People Making Part 6. Attempts at Breaking Out. Sound - Accompaniment and Mediation in the Long Search for the Name. Part 7. A Child Without Behavioural Difficulties. Emerging from the State of Numbness. Psychotherapy without Words. Final Farewell Part 8. Possessed by the Devil. Gaining Space. A Storm Brewing and Catastrophe

About the Author

Dietmut Niedecken, born in Germany, studied educational science and music at the University of Hamburg, and music therapy at the Guildhall School of Music, London. She now works in private practice with children and young people, as well as supervising and lecturing trainee child psychoanalysts.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis