Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued

She said that she had always known that her mother didn’t want her, didn’t like her, and wanted to be rid of her. She felt she was her father’s favourite, and that her mother had always been jealous of her. He asked whether it was possible for her mother not to like or want her before her mother knew she was pregnant. Martha agreed that was not possible. So Martha was able to agree that for a while following conception and the associated enjoyable relations with her father, her mother could not ‘not-want’ her – at least until that time when she discovered she was pregnant. Martha drifted down into her time-line during that time – granting that, although she might have no awareness of that time, it was still part of the time of her existence. She reported no feelings during that time. That was all Felicity wanted to know. He asked her to drift up again and to float forward along her time-line and down into the present.

As she had organized it in her mind, the problem was clearly two-fold. In spite of the fact that she spent a great deal of time with her mother, she thought of herself as having always been rejected by her mother, unwanted and made to feel bad or guilty for existing. And she also thought of herself as one who had earned her guilt for some unknown act she might have done in her early childhood.

At first, Felicity asked Martha to tell him about the picture that popped into her mind when she thought about her mother as a rejecting and jealous person. The image she reported of her mother as a scowling witch seemed to be workable, if a bit too concrete. He asked her for her image of acceptance and being wanted. A gentle picture of her father smiling attentively at her was reported. Felicity was sure that both of these images were too concrete and that the procedure he was going to try would therefore probably not work too well. But she was unable or unwilling to find another pair of images to represent rejection and acceptance. So he tried the visual squash (see below) with these two images. Although the procedure went smoothly, the result was only mildly gratifying, and the new image produced seemed weak to both Martha and Felicity.

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