Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued

The treatment took about a year to complete. At the end of that time, Englebert told Felicity that, although he still harboured many doubts about how he would cause himself to feel in the future, he felt fully heterosexual now. He said that his boy friend and he had split up, that Phoebe and he were living together and that they were talking about getting married. Felicity congratulated him. But Englebert was not finished. He wanted Felicity to know that he was not sure how he would feel once he got away from the treatment programme, that he was not confident that his inclinations would not still be toward men as sexual partners, and that he had real misgivings about the day to day business of living as a married man. “Welcome to the human race, my friend, and to the uncertainties everybody has,” was Felicity’s only reply.

The years have brought to Felicity’s door many Ernestines and Ernests, whose experiences were quite similar to Englebert’s. Many of them sought help by the briefest or least costly routes, and the results they achieved tended to be about in proportion to the investment they were willing or able to make in the task. It seems clear that if only part of a task is done, only part of the effect will be achieved.

As for Englebert, Felicity bumped into him from time to time in shops or on the street. He and Phoebe did marry. They did have two children. They did separate and then divorce. And both Englebert and Phoebe did re-marry. Did Englebert have any further homosexual contacts? He did. He told Felicity about two such contacts between his divorce and his re-marriage and, of course, there may have been more. He did report, however, that during the two contacts to which he admitted, although he had expected to enjoy them, he had actually been disgusted by them. Such may be the price we pay for changing how we go about experiencing life.

Felicity was not surprised by the change in how Englebert felt. He had also treated a couple of entertainers for their anxiety about how other people might react to them and how they appeared ‘on stage’ (anxiety about personal appearance). After the anxiety desensitization was completed, both these people lost their interest in being entertainers and found other careers for themselves. Apparently, in these cases, the excitement, bred of anxiety about being attractive and the centre of attention, had provided the motivation to wish to be ‘the centre of attention’. It had apparently motivated their careers as entertainers and, once taken away, reduced that motivation.

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