Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued

            But he was also fearful of dying, and the periodic reduction in his level of consciousness was experienced by him as if he was passing away.  To defend himself against this latter horror, again without conscious awareness, he had found that he could become alert if others around reacted to him with shock.  His ‘homosexual’ behaviour, such as his irreverent and immodest greeting quoted at the point of first contact, might almost be guaranteed to evoke shock behaviour on the part of others.  Felicity wanted Alton to have the diagnostic electroencephalogram (EEG) to verify the first part of the hypothesis, namely, that his level of consciousness was lowered to avoid awareness of any upsetting ‘dirtiness’ around him.    After Alton left, Felicity phoned the neurologist and, without explaining why, requested that the neurologist ask his technician to expand the alpha‑blocking part of the EEG test to get Alton to picture a series of six imaginal presentations.  The six images, dictated verbatim in random order, were: “picture yourself beating up on your mother” [taboo aggression], “picture yourself being told you are dying” [death*], “picture yourself looking down from the edge of a high cliff” [heights], “picture yourself walking up to a dusty window sill” [dirt*], “picture yourself talking on a stage and making a major faux pas” [social embarrassment], and “picture yourself at sea in a ship in a great storm” [water].  Felicity asked that each presentation last ten seconds before asking Alton to stop thinking of the picture, with thirty seconds between pairs of presentations to allow ‘recovery’ from their effects.  Although clearly bewildered, the neurologist agreed to do as requested.     Alton went at the appointed time to see the neurologist.  When next seen, he reported that he had his EEG, but he was perplexed by the interview with the neurologist that followed it.  The latter had inquired only into the sleep problems, completely ignoring the homosexuality.  Alton seemed reassured when, in response to his inquiry, Felicity said he had not told the neurologist anything about Alton’s presenting problem.  Alton wanted to know what the neurologist had said about him.  Felicity had already received the neurologist’s report. 

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