Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued

The tests which Felicity administered verified an extremely heavy burden of guilt as the active process underlying her introverted and obsessional personality and her severe depression. And there was really little more of interest in the tests. Certainly, the guilt feelings were well integrated throughout the personality system, indicating that they had been with her for a very long time.

Felicity decided that he might have to get her to rework large parts of her personality make-up, although his primary attack had to be on her felt guilt. While he was laying out his multi-facetted therapeutic plan for her, Martha told him that the main thing she needed to accomplish was that she had to find a way to like ‘the way she looked’ – a seemingly rather specific and concrete issue. Although often unable to solve their problems, people’s focus of attention is commonly the best indicator of what needs to be done. Felicity knew this and so he offered a series of alternative methods by which Martha might get to like the way she looked. Since they would have taken almost an eternity of time, it was fortunate they were unnecessary.

To get at the roots of her guilt feelings, Felicity got Martha to picture a series of scenes from her past and from her imagined future, and to locate where in space she saw these pictures in her mind. This allowed Felicity, following some work by James and Woodsmall, to determine the manner in which Martha had structured the memories stored in her mind, and thus represented for herself the process of time through her life. It turned out that her memories tended to be organized in front of her, with her past approaching her along a line at about a 45 degree angle to her right, and her future receding from her along a line at about 45 degrees to her left. Any image of time stretching from her remote past through the present to her distant future would have been fine. This one seemed to work for her.

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