Document Detail

Experiencing self and others: contributions from studies of autism to the psychoanalytic theory of social development.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  8182245     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Psychoanalysts have long been interested in autism as a disorder in which the development of a sense of self and other is altered dramatically. This paper outlines how our psychoanalytic understanding of the process of emergence and maintenance of the self and of inner world may be informed by recent findings from developmental psychology about how normal and autistic children develop the capacity to attribute mental states such as desires, feelings, and beliefs to others. Because autistic individuals frequently fail to develop an understanding of the relation between feelings or beliefs and the behaviors of themselves or others, studies of autism provide a clinical model for how these neurocognitively based functions, related to acquiring a so-called theory of mind, are involved in the elaboration of an inner world and in the ongoing definition of self. Understanding how both autistic and normal children develop, or fail to develop, the capacity to attribute meaning to others' actions, beliefs, and feelings speaks to psychoanalytic notions of internalization, identification, and introjection and provides a neurocognitive frame for how representations of self and others are created in the inner world. Conversely, the psychoanalytic view that the infant's emerging sense of self is also shaped by the infant's desire for mother underscores that affective precursors are absolutely necessary for a theory of mind to emerge.
L C Mayes; D J Cohen
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association     Volume:  42     ISSN:  0003-0651     ISO Abbreviation:  J Am Psychoanal Assoc     Publication Date:  1994  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1994-06-10     Completed Date:  1994-06-10     Revised Date:  2005-11-16    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7505579     Medline TA:  J Am Psychoanal Assoc     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  191-218     Citation Subset:  IM    
Yale Child Study Center, New Haven, CT 06510.
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MeSH Terms
Autistic Disorder / psychology*
Child Behavior Disorders / etiology
Child, Preschool
Communication Disorders / etiology
Interpersonal Relations*
Parent-Child Relations
Psychoanalytic Theory*

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