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This clinical study by five analysts working with autistic children sheds new light on the primitive developmental phases of every human mind, with the emergence of concepts such as dismantling, adhesive identity, and dismantling as parameters of mental functioning.
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Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalytic Theory
Explorations in Autism is a turning-point in both the understanding of and the clinical approach to autism. The clinical material gradually unveils the geography of the internal mother (which proved crucial for the development of Meltzer’s ‘claustrum’ theory) and allowed him to draft, for the first time in psychoanalysis, a theory of the dimensionality of mental life. At the same time this sheds a new light on the primitive developmental phases of every human mind, giving substance to fundamental concepts such as primal depression, dismantling, adhesive identity, and dimensionality as an ubiquitous parameter of mental functioning.
Meg Harris Williams
SECTION A: THEORY
1. Aims, scope and method of the investigation
2. The psychology of autistic states and of post-autistic mentality
SECTION B: CLINICAL FINDINGS
3. Autism proper: Timmy
4. Primal depression in autism: John
5. Disturbed geography of the life-space in autism: Barry
6. The residual autistic condition and its effect upon learning: Piffie
7. Mutism in autism, schizophrenia and manic-depressive states – the correlation of clinical psychopathology and linguistics
SECTION C: IMPLICATIONS
8. The relation of autism to obsessional states in general
9. Dimensionality in mental functioning
Chronology of treatment processes
Author and subject index
Donald Meltzer (1923–2004) was born in New York and studied medicine at Yale. After practising as a psychiatrist specialising in children and families, he moved to England to have analysis with Melanie Klein in the 1950s, and for some years was a training analyst with the British Society. He worked with both adults and children, and was innovative in the treatment of autistic children; in the treatment of children he worked closely with Esther Bick and Martha Harris whom he later married. He taught child psychiatry and psychoanalytic history at the Tavistock Clinic. He also took a special scholarly interest in art and aesthetics, based on a lifelong love of art. Meltzer taught widely and regularly in many countries, in Europe, Scandinavia, and North and South America, and his books have been published in many languages and continue to be increasingly influential in the teaching of psychoanalysis.
His first book, The Psychoanalytical Process, was published by Heinemann in 1967 and was received with some suspicion (like all his books) by the psychoanalytic establishment. Subsequent books were published by Clunie Press for the Roland Harris Educational Trust which he set up together with Martha Harris (now the Harris Meltzer Trust). The Psychoanalytical Process was followed by Sexual States of Mind in 1973, Explorations in Autism in 1975; The Kleinian Development in 1978 (his lectures on Freud, Klein and Bion given to students at the Tavistock); Dream Life in 1984; The Apprehension of Beauty in 1988 (with Meg Harris Williams); and The Claustrum in 1992.
FIRING THE MIND MEMBERS