Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued
Was this woman suffering from schizophrenia? The psychiatric conference certainly believed she was – even after she had recovered. Even Felicity’s sometimes obstructionist tests initially confirmed schizophrenia consistently across tests. It might be argued that Spring’s contorted features, which had apparently created her ‘ugliness’, were either a defensive way of withdrawing herself by keeping others away, or a direct reflection in her features of the high intensity of distress and morbid ideation which she had experienced from early in life. Felicity did not know which, or even whether either of these explanations was appropriate. There used to be a radio programme called ‘The Shadow’ in which the signature statement was something like: ‘Who knows what dark and stormy mysteries lie within the hearts of men? The Shadow knows’ – delivered, of course, in a deep sepulchral voice. That association was about as far as Felicity’s understanding took him.
Still, the thing that had been done as ‘treatment’ for this woman, who had lived for about twenty years in the back wards of the hospital, was to ‘condition inhibition’ of a habit – the habit of how she perceived or ‘saw’ herself. There are probably those who would argue that all that was done was to force this poor woman to look at her face long enough that it no longer bothered her, and that consequently she could relax her features enough to produce a reasonable appearance. Perhaps she was just being desensitized to her main anxiety (that about her appearance) using the method of desensitization called ‘flooding’. Perhaps, and perhaps not.

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