Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued
During the working day its summons are sometimes appropriate. It sometimes brings contact from someone who wants to share his or her wealth with Felicity. But that’s only during the working day.
After working hours it becomes a nuisance. Felicity had the misfortune to be in his office after working hours one day. The switchboard therefore funnelled a call to him. The caller identified himself as an oculist who had a patient who was suffering acute panic because he had the idea the world was about to come to an end. The caller wanted to know what to do with his patient. Instead of expressing the view that he hoped the patient was right, Felicity wondered what an oculist was. He asked the caller to spell the name of his occupation. The spelling was: occultist. Felicity suggested it might be a superior idea if the occultist took the patient to the nearest hospital Emergency Department.
During evening hours the telephone, as a therapeutic agent, becomes a genuine hazard to treatment. The patient who calls is most probably lonely and, in order to justify calling, has to induce in him- or herself some set of urgent symptoms – most often depression. The purpose of the symptom, of course, is to demand the attention of the callee, and the counter-therapeutic gain is the reliance on another to dispel the felt loneliness. These calls, if rejected, may prove dangerous for the patient; if accepted, they foster dependency and prolong the regular treatment.
At night, almost all calls received are deemed by caller and callee to be concerned with crisis, again, most often depression. The trouble is that if the call is to be made after bed-time, the caller usually considers it necessary to feel and present him or her self as suicidal. This adds to the anti-therapeutic value of the call by increasing crisis in the person’s life, distracting the callee from the ongoing therapy by having to deal with the threat of suicide, gets the patient thinking about catastrophic events, and robs both ends of the line of healthful sleep.
First thing in the morning calls, unless prearranged to serve as alarm clocks, are properly responded to only by tearing the caller’s phone out of the wall (if only it could be reached) and consigning it forever to the perdition from whence it came.
The telephone, as a contemporary therapeutic agent, is almost always a counter-therapeutic agent. Those who construe it to be the instrument of the devil that it is, will someday emerge the victors. Felicity looks forward to the time when the infernal telephone will come equipped with a video screen so the caller and callee can both hear and see one another. When that blessed day arrives, the early morning caller will be privileged to be greeted by the same visage as that which welcomes each morning for Felicity – baggy eyed, unshaved and scowling fiercely.

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