Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued

A Rectified Rectum

Deryk was referred by a psychiatrist for treatment of his homosexuality. Felicity was, even for him, in a remarkably and devoutly lazy period of his life, and so he nearly turned the referral down. However, he was about to start a psychotherapy research study for which Deryk was seen to be a suitable subject. So Felicity agreed to see him to find out if he would be willing to participate as an experimental subject without any assurance that the procedure to which he might be assigned would be relevant to his presenting problem. Felicity was obviously out of his skull. Who would agree to such a silly, even improper, proposal? But then, Felicity may have been hoping that Deryk would turn him down.

Deryk came to Felicity’s office at the appointed time. He was a grossly obese man in his late twenties. He had very little to say about himself other than that he was a homosexual. He had no specific expectations about treatment except that he really did not expect it to work. However, since he had no interests in activities, and thus had little to occupy his time, and since there was to be no charge for the treatment, he accepted the risk that he might be assigned to a programme without any treatment benefits for him. Some people are wonderfully accommodating to other’s needs.

The treatment work was done by a psychological assistant, and so Felicity had no further contact with Deryk until the treatment research programme was completed. By prior agreement, Felicity then met with Deryk to determine the outcome of the treatment. There was none. Deryk presented at the end of the programme as he had at the beginning, with no noticeable change in his appearance, manner or presenting symptoms. Felicity was surprised and somewhat disappointed. Deryk had been assigned by chance to an appropriate treatment method — which Felicity’s experience and expectations suggested should have modified Deryk’s homosexuality.

He undertook a detailed inquiry into Deryk’s life and condition. Nothing seemed unusual. Almost by chance, Felicity asked Deryk how many bowel movements he had each day. Deryk wasn’t sure, but he knew there were ‘several’. Felicity woke up with a start and asked Deryk to come back in a week, after recording the time of day each time that he had a bowel movement. Deryk agreed to this unexpected request.

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