January 21, 2012

Do the French still believe in Freud?

Every culture is crazy in its own way. As I've gotten older, I've come to assume that the Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys tend to know what they are doing even if it doesn't make sense to us Americans. But the French continuing to blame autism on "refrigerator mothers" is hard to reconcile with my late-in-life Francophilia:

From the NYT:
“Le Mur,” or “The Wall,” a small documentary film about autism released online last year, might normally not have attracted much attention. 
But an effort by French psychoanalysts to keep it from public eyes has helped to make it into a minor cause and shone a spotlight on the way children in France are treated for mental health problems. 
The documentary, the first film by Sophie Robert, follows two autistic boys: Guillaume, who has been treated with the behavioral, or “American,” approach; and Julien, who has been kept in an asylum for six years and treated with psychoanalysis. Guillaume, though challenged, is functioning at a high level in school. Julien is essentially silent, locked out of society. ... 
Ms. Robert said the version of psychoanalysis that is most prevalent in France, particularly the post-Freudian school championed by Jacques Lacan, takes it as a given that autism and other mental health problems are caused by children’s relationship with their mothers, or by “maternal madness.” 
“Sometimes, when the mother is depressed, in utero, I mean when she is pregnant or at birth, sometimes the child can be autistic,” an analyst tells the camera in one scene. Another explains that autistic children “are sick of language — autism is a way of defending themselves from language.” 
To the question of what an autistic child can expect to gain from psychoanalysis, yet another analyst responds, “The pleasure of taking interest in a soap bubble. I can’t answer anything else.”

I'm not hugely optimistic about the efficacy of the "American" approaches, but the good news is that they at least tend to be more motivated by attempts to find something to help the children than to keep elderly acolytes of a defunct dogma employed. Aged Freudians guilt-tripping the moms of autistic kids doesn't do anybody any good, except keeping the old shrinks from realizing they've wasted their lives.

By the way, Lacan was born into a conservative Catholic family, Jesuit-educated, and, as a youth, a far rightist. 

84 comments:

Tom Regan said...

Freud's risible theories are worthy only of ridicule. The likes of Rank are vastly superior in analysing the individual and collective neuroses and psychoses.
So why does Freud retain any credibility? Partly because he has become a famous 'brand' and partly because so many of his accolytes and disciples played and, in many ways, continue to play a significant role in academia and the media.
The absurd diagnoses of Lacan and others on the causes of autism are evidence of the malignancy of Freud's specious theories.
Why is autism more prevalent these days? Is it more mothers giving birth later in life? Is it over-diagnosis by a profit-driven healthcare industry that pathologizes so many behaviors that a generation ago were regarded as not terribly unusual (viz ADHD, depression etc)? There are some interesting theories out there, but we can rule out moody mothers, Oedipus complexes, penis envy or just about any other Freudian nonsense.

Anonymous said...

My strong sense is that Freud is a joke everywhere but English departments, and, I guess, France.

Jeff Burton said...

Marx, Freud. Two down, one to go.

Grumpy Old Man said...

They think Jerry Lewis is funny, and psychoanalysis is science.
QED

Anonymous said...

I tend to believe my lying eyes, Autism is more prevalent today (I'd say later childbirth and assortive mating, but who knows).

Lucius said...

But isn't "language" just the Grammar of Autism?

Kylie said...

"Marx, Freud. Two down, one to go."

Yes, that's gratifying until you consider that the damage continues.

Catperson said...

I think the alleged foolishness of Freud might be evidence that the Flynn Effect reflects a genuine rise in intelligence (caused by nutrition). The fact that ideas that seem as silly as Freud's were the leading intellectual opinions of the day, might suggest that people back then were simply not that intelligent.

Anon87 said...

Autism Diagnosis Change: What Does It Mean?

This should be an ugly clash of shoddy "science" with politics and entitlement. Reminds me of how homosexuality went from a disorder by the APA to not. Just move the classification threshold around depending on special interest opinions.

Isn't the autism "spectrum" just a redefinition of what everyone already knew?

- extremely introverted
- shy/awkward/geeky
- "ADHD" - not sure if this is included these days or not
- someone who is a little slow
- retarded

with a rough IQ shift as you go across the spectrum. "Autism" was invented with zero evidence it exists to become a catch-all for parents who need an explanation of why their kid isn't the best and brightest. And of course ask for taxpayer money to raise them. So autism can go from an epidemic to not overnight, based on a list of criteria like eye contact during a conversation?

While the rest of the world deals with malaria, TB, cholera, etc., things that were pretty much eradicated in the US (but primed for a nice comeback thanks to immigration), we get white people problems like autism.

paleopaleo said...

genetically modified wheat is the culprit

Anonymous said...

"Freud's risible theories are worthy only of ridicule."

What was so risible about them? Many haven't been proven by science, some have been disproven, but all of them are actually quite thought-provoking. Freud was personally not a very good man, but he was a brilliant thinker. So was Jung.
What we know now, Freud and Jung couldn't have known then. But they opened up new frontiers. Personally, I think despite Freud's liberal politics, his theories are not particularly left or right.

Jack Quinn said...

"Two down, one to go."

The mallet is raised;drive the stake into Keynes.

JQ

Dutch Boy said...

The "refrigerator mother" theory of autism was prevalent in America from the 1940s to the 60s, courtesy of Bruno Bettelheim, the psychoanalytic fraud. As for Freud, there is evidence that he invented the theory of neurosis by misinterpreting symptoms of mercury poisoning (mercury being used ubiquitously in 19th century medicine) as a form pf psychological maladjustment.
http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/12/hysteria-autism-and-the-durability-of-sheer-nonsense.html

beowulf said...

"The documentary, the first film by Sophie Robert, follows two autistic boys: Guillaume, who has been treated with the behavioral, or “American,” approach"

Or what is sometimes called the "Kenyan" approach. :o)

If Obama has been helped by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or something else, he should tell the public. His endorsement could do a lot of good by encouraging others to try it.
http://isteve.blogspot.com/2007/08/did-obama-undergo-cognitive-behavioral.html

I was thinking the reader Steve quotes at the link make an awful lot of sense, but then I remembered that it was from an email I'd sent Steve back in the day. :o)

candid_observer said...

I guess this taps into a question I've had about the sociology/geography of the social sciences.

My general sense is that virtually all of the important work done in the social sciences is performed in the Anglophone world. There are occasional contributions from, say, Germany, Denmark, and Italy, but they are, as best I can make out, well underrepresented for the size of the larger scientific/academic community of the countries.

And France in particular seems to have very little to offer. If, indeed, the social sciences are inspired by the likes of Lacan, then one can see how that might get explained. It really does seem as if anything resembling the scientific method, including statistical techniques and experimental design, has yet to find a comfortable niche in countries like France.

As far as psychoanalysis goes in the US, it's basically dead and done for, and has been so for decades now. The dominant psychotherapeutic paradigm is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and it is so because evidence backs it up as an effective technique.

Anonymous said...

Marx, Freud. Two down, one to go.

Darwin? Good luck with that, buddy.

RS said...

> Marx, Freud. Two down, one to go.

Boas?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Marx, Freud. Two down, one to go.

Keynes is next.

No name said...

Like their previous love affair with Marx, the Liberals affair with Freud -starting in 20s and reaching its peak in the 60s - is going down the memory hole.

Go back and read books from the 30s, 40s, 50s, and you'll see Freud treated as some kind of scientific genius. Anyone who disagreed was labeled a rube and a boob. CF: Houston's 1962 movie "Freud".

Anonymous said...

I actually believe Freud was more correct than the alternatives, and mothers bear a lot of the blame for children's emotional and psychological problems. It makes intuitive sense, and in every case that I met an autistic kid or adolescent, his mother fit the patterns you'd expect. Let's not let crazy Western women off the hook, this is why a lot of this is happening now.

Anonymous said...

The genesis of Freud's theories was his study in France under Charcot and Janet. The demonstrable utility of hypnosis (what should be termed
Mesmerism, with respect to the attainments of Anton Mesmer ) sufficiently establishes the importance of subconscious mental activity. Freud's notions--and his brilliant literary metaphors --didn't have a long period of ascendancy because they lack of any validity or any realism. It is not unlikely that diagnostic categories like homosexuality and autism are, in reality, overinclusive. It is not unlikely that centuries of stigma against homosexuality reflected that most same sex involvement is an outgrowth of lust and underlying chronic anxieties and other internal "demons". If a male simply needs to shoot semen as often as possible, same sex involvements are more practical (within such madness) than male/female pairings are likely to be. Some homosexuality clears seems established at the point of conception. Likewise, it is not far flung conjecture that autism may generally have physical roots more amenable to behaviorist mitigation than psychodynamic mitigation but in many in many instances be mostly a product of mothers with poor affect. I feel tempted to try to get up a "non-defense Fund for Steve Sailer" so he can experience directly hypnosis and subconscious mental activity and case to carpet bomb the yet smoldering ruins of Freudianism-- ( with smile ).

Anonymous said...

" It makes intuitive sense, and in every case that I met an autistic kid or adolescent, his mother fit the patterns you'd expect. Let's not let crazy Western women off the hook, this is why a lot of this is happening now."

What did the mothers do to cause it? I think upbringing plays a role in how a person turns out in terms of personality and other things. Some of it is definitely genes though. We are born with a certain temperament and talents,but the parents add on to it by how they raise the child. Why is Tim Tebow so religious? It's because he was indoctrinated into it and also probably has strong religious tendencies in his biology.

Reg C├Žsar said...

How does the 'behavioral approach' relate to the behaviorism of B F Skinner? Is that the source?

I've heard praise for the former and demonization of the latter-- both from traditional viewpoints. (It reminds me of the educational right's-- at least in Minnesota suburbs-- livid attack on the tracking in Al Gore's Goals 2000 as some leftist Prussian import, even though tracking was the rule in the supposedly reactionary South. What a difference homogeneity makes!)

The first time I heard of the efficacy of the behavior-al/-ist/whatever system was in a talk by Jama Clark in the mid-'90s. She was pushing a gentler, more female-friendly version of the Roissy/Whiskey analysis, basically 'The Rules' for men.

A pragmatic, small-steps approach seems inherently more suited to the Anglo-Saxon mind. (I just heard someone claim nothing other than the old 12-step has ever worked for alkies.) Freud's 'unified theory of everything' would appeal to the French. Though I really doubt they dare apply it to the important things in life, like food, sex, food, war, and food.

agnostic said...

Prevalence over time of "psychanalyse" in the French books in Google's digital library:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=psychanalyse&year_start=1900&year_end=2008&corpus=7&smoothing=3

Steady rise from about 1920 to present, plateau-ing since the mid-'80s.

Now for "psychoanalysis" in the English books:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=psychoanalysis&year_start=1900&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=3

Basically steady rise from 1910 to the mid-'90s, then a sharp decline.

Either there's a similar lifespan for this silly idea, and since the French were later in adopting it, they'll be later in junking it (should be starting by now, though).

Or they're just stuck in that bland mid-century period when psychoanalysis was ascendant. Come to think of it, they didn't really party it up during the later '70s and '80s. Germany, Italy, Spain, even the supposedly shy Swedes all joined the Western-wide carnival.

They seem to have a greater disposition toward rationalism and technocracy. And psychoanalysis was not adopted as an irrational or Romantic worldview but a supremely rigorous theory with clinical applications for billable-hours experts.

spandrell said...

Everyone should read "The ordeal of civility", about how the non-romantic, down-to-business marriage culture of the Jewish shtetl crashed with the elaborate chivalric culture of Vienna. Poor Freud couldn't understand it so he used his whole life to destroy it.

Anonymous said...

"The fact that ideas that seem as silly as Freud's were the leading intellectual opinions of the day, might suggest that people back then were simply not that intelligent."

Oh, catperson, come on. Some currently-fashionable ideas:

There's no such thing as race.
Everyone is born with the same abilities.
Men and women are mentally, emotionally and socially interchangeable.
Society shouldn't shame or otherwise discourage buggery.
Abstract art is art.
Failure is sufficient evidence of discrimination.

Since Freud's time we've only gone further away from a realistic, honest view of human nature. His false lefty ideas have gone down in popularity, but lots of other people's false lefty ideas have increased in popularity. I'm sure that on balance Freud would be pleased with the current situation.

And this has nothing to do with changes in intelligence over time. Smart people are great at being able to convince themselves and others of stupid things. Some ideas (feminism, deracination) are so stupid that no one except for the smart appears to be vulnerable to catch them.

Also, the Flynn Effect can't possibly apply to elites. There have been elites in all historical and pre-historical periods on all continents. All of them ate well. There have been obvious super-geniuses (in the modern sense, not graded on a curve) since at least the Greek antiquity. I've never seen any reason to think that the geniuses of today are smarter than Euclid, Archimedes, Descartes, Newton, Bach, Beethoven and the rest of them.

Perhaps the Flynn Effect can partly explain the industrial-age move towards democracy, full suffrage and the weakening of the class system. Visual art and literature have only gotten worse, though. That's because they are the province of elites, and the elites aren't getting any smarter, while becoming burdened by more and more disastrous lefty ideas. Unlike art, science and technology work cumulatively (standing on the shoulders of giants), so the results would continue to pile up for a while even if the amount of talent started to decrease, which it undoubtedly will in the future.

DaveinHackensack said...

Lacan comes up frequently on The Last Psychiatrist's blog.

Anonymous said...

You suppose there is an element of Freudian-motherism in Sailer's Half Blood Prince?

Maya said...

Interesting. I lived and worked in France for a couple of years, and I've never encountered a "special" kid. There were a couple with physical deformities, but none with mental/emotional/developmental problems. I haven't reflected on this before, but I guess they all were locked away somewhere.

Oh, and the French contributed plenty, in recent years! You know those pots and pans with detachable handles, so they can be easily stored and wouldn't be awkward to clean in a dishwasher?
Also, don't we buy military helicopters from them?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

In college in the early 70's, ego-psychology of various forms were still dominant, and when I started professionally in the late 70's, psychologists who didn't ascribe to such theories were considered dangerous mavericks with unproven theories. It was hinted that they were nazis and control-freaks, enforcing their wills on patients rather than allowing the patient to heal with the gentler methods of analysis. Psychiatrists, who were increasingly discovering that medicines worked (but oh, those side effects) were a more mixed bunch.

Anonymous 11:32 said "It makes intuitive sense, and in every case that I met an autistic kid or adolescent, his mother fit the patterns you'd expect."

I've worked with hundreds. That's complete bullshit. The kindest explanation I might offer is confirmation bias on your part.

candid observer, you are correct. And if you are only counting intelligent contributions to the field, the numbers are even more dramatic.

Dutch Boy said...

Dr. Bernard Rimland discredited psychological theories of autism back in the 1960s (based on his research after his own son was diagnosed with autism despite having a non-refigerator mother). BTW, autism was so rare in the
1950s that Rimland's pediatrician had never seen a case in over 20 years of practice and Rimland had never heard of the disease despite a PhD in Psychology (his wife diagnosed the child based on reading an old college textbook of hers).

Anonymous said...

"the genesis of Freud's theories.."
"ascendancy"
No one contends that Freud's theories stand any reasonable scientific test. But what does appear to account for their long
endurance is perhaps the ingenious literary metaphors that have captivated the sense of unconscious
motivation evident in our observations of others and as obvious to our introspections of ourselves. Analysis of noteworthy mental disorder, also, makes Freud's connections and metaphors sensible, even if the overall theory is just mostly a literary metaphysic. No more sustained and vigorous criticism of Freudianism existed than that which arose within the USSR. Yet for decades the Soviets were trying with some success (but never with any consummation ) to sift out what was valid from what was fanciful. Forget Freud and go back to Charcot and Janet and back to Mesmer. The effort to develop a scientific theory and detailed understanding about subconscious mental activity has been evaded in recent decades in response to the practical and time-efficient successes of various behaviorist approaches and perhaps moreso in response to the Big Pharma promotion in a hedonistic world of
what too often is merely "chemical lobotomy"---the means to sin but not to suffer.

M Fawful said...

Intellectual superiority to crass and crude Americans is an important part of the French idea of themselves. But the relatively recent birth of the social sciences and the early dominance of Freudian nonsense in European Psychology mean that almost all the productive work in Psychology has been done by Americans or other Anglospheroids.

And so it has become a vicious circle. Switching to a modern cognitive-behavioral model would be treason to higher-ups heavily invested in Freudian psychobabble so each new generation chases its tail in the Freudian ghetto.

Catperson said...

Oh, catperson, come on. Some currently-fashionable ideas:

There's no such thing as race.
Everyone is born with the same abilities.
Men and women are mentally, emotionally and socially interchangeable.
Society shouldn't shame or otherwise discourage buggery.
Abstract art is art. 
Failure is sufficient evidence of discrimination.


A lot of the modern ideas you ridicule are not so much stupid, but compassionate, and intended to make everyone feel worthy.  Just as nutrition increased the cognitive part of our brains making us smarter, it may have also increased the emotional part of our brains making us less psychopathic, so we feel guilty about stigmatizing innocent people based on race, gender, sexuality and ability.  There's also the shadow of hitler still hanging over the social sciences and it will take years before we stop overcompensating for the events of WWII.



And this has nothing to do with changes in intelligence over time. Smart people are great at being able to convince themselves and others of stupid things. Some ideas (feminism, deracination) are so stupid that no one except for the smart appears to be vulnerable to catch them.


Well smart people tend to be more compassionate because a large efficient brain will function at higher levels not just intellectually but emotionally too, so smart people may embrace stupid ideas if they serve the smart and compassionate goal of helping the disenfranchised.  

Now dumb people sometimes embrace the correct ideas but not because they are smart but because their low intelligence makes them slaves to instinct.  They have been programmed by tribal evolution to reject other races as different and thus correctly identify racial differences in intelligence but smart people are able to liberate themselves from the tribal instinct to preserve their racial genes, and thus empower all races with feel good theories.  Another Darwinian instinct smart people tend to reject is reproduction.  High IQ people (especially high IQ women) have less sex and fewer offspring than low IQ people. 

Catperson said...

Also, the Flynn Effect can't possibly apply to elites. There have been elites in all historical and pre-historical periods on all continents. All of them ate well.

Then why are elites today taller than elites 70 years ago?


There have been obvious super-geniuses (in the modern sense, not graded on a curve) since at least the Greek antiquity.

Well we know nutrition has been increasing since at least the late 19th century because height and brain size have been rising.  But we don't know much about the quality of nutrition in earlier centuries.  For all we know nutrition could have been even better than it is today in certain ancient times and places.


Perhaps the Flynn Effect can partly explain the industrial-age move towards democracy, full suffrage and the weakening of the class system. Visual art and literature have only gotten worse, though. That's because they are the province of elites, and the elites aren't getting any smarter, while becoming burdened by more and more disastrous lefty ideas.

Literature hasn't been getting better because verbal ability is relatively unscathed by prenatal malnutrition as studies of identical twins born with unequal nutrition in the womb demonstrate; so the flynn effect is usually less pronounced in verbal domains. More generally  art (including literature) hasn't improved much because artistic achievements are not highly correlated with intelligence.  For example blacks dominate the arts (rhythm music, dance (, james brown, michael jackson) comedy (Chris rock) public speaking (martin Luther king) literature (Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou)) despite the average black IQ being low. Art requires some IQ, but special talents and psychoticism seem more important.

Unlike art, science and technology work cumulatively (standing on the shoulders of giants), so the results would continue to pile up for a while even if the amount of talent started to decrease, which it undoubtedly will in the future.

Even allowing for the cumulative effect, the scientific achievements of the modern era suggest the greatest Renaissance in human history: television, the Internet, ipads, GPS, space travel, satellite images of the topography of distant planets, computer animation, genetic engineering, cloning, MRI brain scans, human ears being grown in the backs of mice, DNA analysis of human ancestry, the human genome project...the list goes on and on.  

Charlotte said...

"I actually believe Freud was more correct than the alternatives, and mothers bear a lot of the blame for children's emotional and psychological problems. It makes intuitive sense, and in every case that I met an autistic kid or adolescent, his mother fit the patterns you'd expect. Let's not let crazy Western women off the hook, this is why a lot of this is happening now."

Schizophrenia was actually the ailment most often attributed to bad mothering, but now that has been linked so solidly to physical problems with the brain, that it's gone out of fashion.

Come on, crazy western man, I know it's hard when they take away your favorite Teddy bear, but the Freudian take makes no "intuitive sense" to me at all; and quite frankly your powers of observation don't inspire any confidence for objectivity in this reader, who has seen a number of autistic children (who hasn't these days.)

What makes "intuitive sense" to me is that giving a 10 or 20 lb baby 9 vaccines in one day, might not be a good idea. What makes intuitive sense to me, is what I saw of my niece, a normal, precocious, friendly tot, who shortly after a round of vaccines, became autistic. Her mother fit no stereotype, so beloved of old style mother-bating psychiatrists, and your good self. This woman is normal, gentle, smart, and not working outside the home while raising her kids. She was able to spend time working with the girl, who is now a normal teenager (or as close to normal as a teen can be.) The older sister had never had any problems of that nature.
This is hardly a unique case. The mothers I've seen, including my sister-in-law, have other kids with no mental problems. Why would only one child be affected?

Freud's early 20th century couch-lyers, products of the 19th century, were the corsetted, marriage/children focussed antitheses of current feminism, but alas, they were not happy. Neither were the men, who complained about them, naturally.

hbd chick said...

"'Sometimes, when the mother is depressed, in utero, I mean when she is pregnant or at birth, sometimes the child can be autistic....'"

well that doesn't sound like a "refrigerator mother," but a possible chemical/biological explanation.

freud had some insights (the subconscious and all that), but most of freudianism is bunk, and the "refrigerator mother" explanation for autism is nonsense.

having said that, i come from a long line of autists -- aspergians (it runs in the family!) -- and it's not like i could ever have learned (from my family) to be socially functionate. neither of my parents were "refrigerator parents," afaiac -- but it's not like we were ever a cosy, sensitive-to-other's-emotional-needs family. everyone was too busy working on the model trains. (~_^)

if i had been (*sniff*) hugged more as a child (an environmental stimulus that might've altered some epigentic coding somewhere and activated some "genes for sociality"?), maybe i wouldn't have been so ass-burgian. then again, maybe i would've. (^_^)

wren said...

The "American approach" they speak of is "applied behavioral analysis, I believe. It is a field that strives to be seen as a real science. I have seen good outcomes, but one never knows what would have happened without it, either.

Anonymous said...

Well smart people tend to be more compassionate because a large efficient brain will function at higher levels not just intellectually but emotionally too, so smart people may embrace stupid ideas if they serve the smart and compassionate goal of helping the disenfranchised.

That explains the ardor displayed by the smartest people on earth for advancing the interests of the disenfranchised, like women, Blacks or Muslims, out of pure compassion.

This pattern can be observed in every country they have settled in.

ben tillman said...

It makes intuitive sense, and in every case that I met an autistic kid or adolescent, his mother fit the patterns you'd expect.

I've never heard of anyone execting any patterns. What are those patterns? And where do you find people who expect these patterns?

Anonymous said...

Our chemical/hormone exposure is a million times higher compared to centuries gone by. Sperm counts are way way down.

News reports of male fish discovered in polluted rivers with female sex organs. People just yawn.

We are being pounded with aluminum, barium, mercury, BPA, and all sorts of pesticides in our food and water supplies. What's the mystery?

Anonymous said...

I could be wrong about this, but something tells me that catperson might be Half Sigma.

Lucius said...

Are there no claimants to Maya Angelou's and Chris Rock's and Michael Jackson's thrones atop the arts?

None at all?

Amy P said...

"Anonymous 11:32 said "It makes intuitive sense, and in every case that I met an autistic kid or adolescent, his mother fit the patterns you'd expect.""

I think it was actually rather insightful of Bettelheim to notice that the mothers of autistic children were often "different." What he didn't get (it wouldn't have been fashionable at the time) was the possibility of genetic transmission. (Although to be fair to Bettelheim, it is also true that a mother with autistic personality features would parent differently than the average mother, so it would be easy to attribute all of the child's issues to those differences in nurture.)

Anonymous said...

Given the article title and subject, mention must be made of "Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science", a book that critiques French pseudo-intellectual thought. Much of the book relates to the so-called Sokal affair, in which one of the authors deliberately published random pseudo-intellectual babble in a postmodern studies journal, just to prove that they would publish anything dressed up in the right form.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fashionable_Nonsense

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_Affair

There might be something to this business of popular ideas and intellectuals being more like clothing fashion than just about anything else...

as said...

Maybe the mothers should be guilt tripped?

1. Isn't age of parents a major risk factor for autism?

A lot of people who could have had children in their twenties delay childbearing until their thirties with deleterious results for the children.

2. Antibodies for HSV I and HSV II also correlate with autism. If you've led a promiscuous life and thus accumulated several strains of these herpes viruses, it could affect your unborn child in some way.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous 11:32 said "It makes intuitive sense, and in every case that I met an autistic kid or adolescent, his mother fit the patterns you'd expect."

"I think it was actually rather insightful of Bettelheim to notice that the mothers of autistic children were often "different."

No offense, but totally ignorant. If you have much experience with folks at the far end of the autistic spectrum, the type that try to bite off their hands and are covered in scar tissue, you would know that severe autistics aren't even human. The full brain just isn't there. The mother can be any pattern you'd find, it doesn't matter.

Bettelheim biographies portray a very unflattering person who somehow claimed that his experience in 1938-39 in a pre-WWII concentration camp was the same as that of an autistic or schizophrenic, and thus he knew all about it... just give him the power over others, he'd straighten it all out. Complete BS. For my money Bettelheim and his refrigerator mother theory were among the great evils of the 20th century. Let the man speak for himself:

"The difference between the plight of prisoners in a concentration camp and the conditions which lead to autism and schizophrenia in children is, of course, that the child has never had a previous chance to develop much of a personality."

Defeated said...

Freud: So you say that your mother was abandoned by a powerful African man and that left you as the only "African" man in her life. You were always uncomfortable with her unconscious, though it was obvious to you, attraction to black men exclusively. And you say that because of her color, you weren't sure if you viewed her as your "Mother", as much as you did a "Woman."

Barry: Doc, I dont understand how all this is going to help me quit smoking.

Freud: Patience Barry. Now tell me, would you say your wife is more like your mother or more like your mother's idealization of your father?

There might be something to psychoanalysis after all.

Anonymous said...

So Freud is still popular with someone other than Jared Diamond, who knew?

wren said...

Freud: Patience Barry. Now tell me, would you say your wife is more like your mother or more like your mother's idealization of your father?

There might be something to psychoanalysis after all.


Nice.

Come to think of it, Barry would have kept Freud pretty busy.

wren said...

"I think it was actually rather insightful of Bettelheim to notice that the mothers of autistic children were often "different."

No offense, but totally ignorant. If you have much experience with folks at the far end of the autistic spectrum, the type that try to bite off their hands and are covered in scar tissue, you would know that severe autistics aren't even human. The full brain just isn't there. The mother can be any pattern you'd find, it doesn't matter.


My experience with folks at all points on the "autistic spectrum" leads me to believe that Amy P was correct, and not at all ignorant.

The genetic component in autism is without question. Environmental triggers, I can only guess.

Peter A said...

Freud is also still popular in Austria, probably Western Europe in general. It is not just France.

Julian O'Dea said...

Two of my children are autistic. Autism is not just mental slowness. Down Syndrome people seem normal in many ways but are slow. Autistic people are different from other people altogether. They live in a different world.

I have rarely seen such drivel as in these comments.

Self-mutilation probably occurs due to frustration at being unable to communicate. Autistic people do not try to bite off their hands. Hyperbolic drivel. And as for "not being human", they are indeed human. Not so sure about the commentator.

Catperson said...

I could be wrong about this, but something tells me that catperson might be Half Sigma.

The difference is I'm not a neocon.

Amy P said...

"Self-mutilation probably occurs due to frustration at being unable to communicate."

Yep. As they say, behavior is communication.

Self-harming may also come from a desire to create sensory input to deal with more distressing outside sensory input (autistic people often have unusually acute sensory perception). They're not just self-harming or rocking or swinging or whatever just for the heck of it. (I'm really hoping that Anonymous does not have any immediate responsibility for the welfare of autistic people.)

Kylie said...

"The fact that ideas that seem as silly as Freud's were the leading intellectual opinions of the day, might suggest that people back then were simply not that intelligent."

And what would the fact that ideas that seem as silly as the notion that race is merely a social construct suggest about the leading intellectuals of today?

Kylie said...

"I just heard someone claim nothing other than the old 12-step has ever worked for alkies."

That claim is wrong. Sobriety is the only thing that works for alkies.

The trouble is that some alcoholics never sober up, they just dry out.

Hacienda said...

Freud was never popular in Korea.

Marx, Freud, and...Einstein?

If you meant Einstein, I'm all for that too.

Kylie said...

"it's not like we were ever a cosy, sensitive-to-other's-emotional-needs family. everyone was too busy working on the model trains."

HO scale, I hope. And Revell, not Lionel.

Kylie said...

"A lot of the modern ideas you ridicule are not so much stupid, but compassionate, and intended to make everyone feel worthy."

Past a certain point, compassion is stupidity. You're a self-described "cat person". So consider "crazy cat ladies". They are certainly compassionate and think every cat is worthy. And they end up harming--even killing--more cats than they help.

For a long time now, I've looked at the left and thought "They are all crazy cat ladies now".

Compassionate inclusiveness is, past a certain point, just plain stupid. And leftists* passed that point long ago.

*Yes, I'm including you. I wouldn't want you to feel unworthy.

jack strocchi said...

Freud is in the unfortunate position of Marx, he started an ideological cult and is not wholly responsible for subsequent nonsense like Lacan. ie 'je ne suis pas "Freudian"'.

There is a core of sense in Freud's model since he focuses on the importance of the unconscious in driving human nature, particularly unconscious sex drives. Darwin's sexual selection theory covers similar ground.

Freud's strength was his combination of classical literary and scientific hydraulic metaphors. This stamped him as a Renaissance Man.

Unfortunately metaphors only get you part the way there. You also need an abstract logical model that has empirical testability. Freud's couch-bound case-study theory is designed to generate confirmation bias in "testing".

More generally, Freud's theory is mostly built on the internal dynamics of the mind. There is little in there grapple with the external dynamics of society.

Behaviourism is the exact opposite, being all external socialisation, no internal mentalisation.

Socio-biology complements internal biological drives with external sociological constraints. Much better allround.

Anonymous said...

"A lot of the modern ideas you ridicule are not so much stupid, but compassionate, and intended to make everyone feel worthy."

This makes them stupid.
Can you hear yourself?

helene edwards said...

the disenfranchised.


Who is it that's not allowed to vote?

Anonymous said...

This isn't so surprising when you think of how French intellectualism has always been above all literary. They are truly a people of books, narrative, generalization, and language. It's a spirit they've always had. A commenter said sarcastically, "Psycholanalysis is a science" to them. Exactly. It's hard for us grasp how until pretty recently, things like philology and philosophy were a kind of "science" to continental Europe. That British breakaway of logical empiricism didn't take shape on the continent fully until the 20th century. In some ways, it hasn't truly taken hold in France. Even Germans seem to have a bit of the old view of a more "holistic" view of science.
I've always had the sense that the French lag took hold in the post-Napoleonic era. Before that, there was a lot of French contribution to the development of modern science (Descartes, the metric system, etc), but they just didn't want to abandon that rather literary taste for theorizing across the disciplines and to infuse literary reference in particular.

Anonymous said...

"Freud's risible theories are worthy only of ridicule."

Can we please suppress the spread of the word "risible" before it becomes the latest pseudoengish to take hold.
What's wrong with "laughable"?

Not that I'm trying to "redact" your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Re "Autistic people do not try to bite off their hands."

This is a simple question of fact. Google on "autism hand arm bite biting" or "autistic self-mutilation arms" for numerous hits. I am not talking about high-functioning verbal autistics who can be out in society, but autism so severe it is coupled with retardation. This sort of thing:

http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?Volume=157&page=1574&journalID=13

"Naltrexone Treatment for a 3-Year-Old Boy With Self-Injurious Behavior"

"As a result of this behavior he had multiple ecchymotic lesions and callous formations on both arms. These lesions were most notable on the left arm and covered approximately 70% of the left forearm surface with oozing areas."

Here is someone looking for arm protection for an autistic child, you occasionally see pictures of autistic children wearing such protection:

http://www.healthboards.com/boards/autism-spectrum/567047-protection-bites-forearm.html

This is more the level of autism I'm talking about:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19198918

"ECT for self-injury in an autistic boy."

"The patient ... required usage of bilateral arm restraints and protective equipment (i.e., padding on shoulders, arms, and legs). All areas of daily functioning were profoundly impacted by dangerous self-injury."

You may have been lucky not to be exposed to autistics severe enough to be institutionalized as children so they can be closely supervised by the proverbial 300 pound men in white coats.

Re "The genetic component in autism is without question."

Autistics have human bodies and deserve all our normal love, respect, and care. But really severe austistics don't have human minds. Luckily they are rare. Mothers of all autistics deserve all the help they can get. My point was the behaviors of mothers of severe autistics likely has/had no effect on the child, due to the severity of the autism. It's not even clear the child ever recognized the mother. I don't doubt there is a genetic component, perhaps even total for some forms of autism, but it's not clear-cut. There's probably plenty of ways for brains to fail to get wired up correctly, some genetic, some disease/damage, some environmental etc.. It simply doesn't make sense to dismiss it all by blaming just the behavior or the genetics of the mother. The brain is so amazing, it's a wonder it works at all...

Leo Ladenson said...

Can we please suppress the spread of the word "risible" before it becomes the latest pseudoengish to take hold.
What's wrong with "laughable"?



The first use of "risible" in English (1557) is attested about 50 years earlier than the first use of "laughable."

Leo Ladenson said...

By the way, Lacan was born into a conservative Catholic family, Jesuit-educated, and, as a youth, a far rightist.


Corruptio optimi pessima.

Anonymous said...

having said that, i come from a long line of autists -- aspergians (it runs in the family!) -- and it's not like i could ever have learned (from my family) to be socially functionate. neither of my parents were "refrigerator parents," afaiac -- but it's not like we were ever a cosy, sensitive-to-other's-emotional-needs family. everyone was too busy working on the model trains. (~_^)

Right! The mothers of children with major problems with theory of mind and in fact with any kind of information or thought that isn't purely perceptual processing (and even that's usually only a relative strength), that is, autistics, are not surprisingly more likely to show a relatively similar pattern themselves, relative to the general population, to some degree of severity that doesn't preclude them having offspring. "Refrigerators" is not a wholly wrong way to describe this.

It's the causal model that's all wrong.

Anonymous said...

The first use of "risible" in English (1557) is attested about 50 years earlier than the first use of "laughable."

I bet you can count on one hand the number of times you've heard anyone use "risible" in conversation.

Anonymous said...

Right! The mothers of children with major problems with theory of mind and in fact with any kind of information or thought that isn't purely perceptual processing (and even that's usually only a relative strength), that is, autistics, are not surprisingly more likely to show a relatively similar pattern themselves, relative to the general population, to some degree of severity that doesn't preclude them having offspring. "Refrigerators" is not a wholly wrong way to describe this.

The genetics of autism is apparently complex. While a population with "major problems with theory of mind" may exist, it is almost certainly not the whole story. For instance, sometimes parents and parent's/family genetics don't fit this suggested model. Check out "sporadic autism":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_autism

"The large number of autistic individuals with unaffected family members may result from copy number variations (CNVs)—spontaneous alterations in the genetic material ..."
"The mathematical models suggest that about 50% of autistic cases are caused by spontaneous mutations."

A credible non-wiki source (a recent Nature article):

http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v43/n6/full/ng.835.html

"Exome sequencing in sporadic autism spectrum disorders identifies severe de novo mutations"

"Evidence for the etiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) has consistently pointed to a strong genetic component..." "We sequenced the exomes of 20 individuals with sporadic ASD (cases) and their parents, reasoning that these families would be enriched for de novo mutations of major effect. We identified 21 de novo mutations, 11 of which were protein altering."


I take it this suggests sometimes mutations (which are always occurring, if nothing else blame cosmic rays) muck up the creation of complex brains. That's all. A bit scary, how much can go wrong.

Anonymous said...

It makes intuitive sense, and in every case that I met an autistic kid or adolescent, his mother fit the patterns you'd expect.

Doesn't mean its the mother's behavior at fault. It might just be genes. Wierd mom has wierd kids.
-Osvaldo Mandias

ATBOTL said...

Freudian quackery is still very widespread in Europe.

Anonymous said...

"Right! The mothers of children with major problems with theory of mind and in fact with any kind of information or thought that isn't purely perceptual processing (and even that's usually only a relative strength), that is, autistics, are not surprisingly more likely to show a relatively similar pattern themselves, relative to the general population,"

I strongly disagree. I've known a few difficult yet very emotional mothers of autistic children, well within the range of normal, skewed to the left of the political spectrum behavior. The majority of these moms were pretty neat, interesting women with excellent communication skills and a great sense of humor. Their houses were comfortable and inviting. Everyone had a good feel for home decorating and the coping skills to run a functional household despite having a child with a disorder requiring numerous accommodations wrt typical family life. The only real difference was that these mothers were more diligent about keeping things orderly which makes sense when you think about it. Otherwise, they probably skewed towards the higher end of the IQ spectrum with at least one parent, usually the father, demonstrating an aptitude for math.

Anonymous said...

Has it ever occurred to you people that if some radicals had come up with a way to cause autistic spectrum disorders in the children of high IQ parents, they would've done it deliberately. Are you aware that we're living in an era in which nut jobs will harm innocent individuals in order to work for this abstract ideal called social justice?

Anonymous said...

Severely autistic kids have been around for a long, long time. Europeans just called them by different names. Witness:

"Eight years ago [in the year 1532] at Dessau, I, Dr. Martin Luther, saw and touched a changeling. It was twelve years old, and from its eyes and the fact that it had all of its senses, one could have thought that it was a real child. It did nothing but eat; in fact, it ate enough for any four peasants or threshers. It ate, shit, and pissed, and whenever someone touched it, it cried. When bad things happened in the house, it laughed and was happy; but when things went well, it cried. It had these two virtues. I said to the Princes of Anhalt: "If I were the prince or the ruler here, I would throw this child into the water--into the Molda that flows by Dessau. I would dare commit homicidium on him!" But the Elector of Saxony, who was with me at Dessau, and the Princes of Anhalt did not want to follow my advice. Therefore, I said: "Then you should have all Christians repeat the Lord's Prayer in church that God may exorcise the devil." They did this daily at Dessau, and the changeling child died in the following year.... Such a changeling child is only a piece of flesh, a massa carnis, because it has no soul."

Dutch Boy said...

The author of the Nature article on the genetics of autism is a functionary of GSK, the pharmaceutical corportation (a fact he failed to disclose).
"New Autism Twin Study Demolishes Decades-Long Belief in Genetic Causation"
http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/07/new-autism-twin-study-demolishes-decades-long-belief-in-genetic-causation.html

catperson said...

The only real difference was that these mothers were more diligent about keeping things orderly which makes sense when you think about it. Otherwise, they probably skewed towards the higher end of the IQ spectrum with at least one parent, usually the father, demonstrating an aptitude for math.

Are high IQ people more likely to have autistic kids? If so, why?

Anonymous said...

"Are high IQ people more likely to have autistic kids? If so, why?"

Yes. Because autism is the sickle cell disease of nerds.

Anonymous said...

Are there any statistics on the demographics of Freud's patients?

By and large, were they not just a bunch of crazy neurotic nutso kooky Jewesses with too much time on their hands?

And might not some of Freud's theories be more true of those particular patients [which he actually observed] than they would be of the wider Austrian population [to include Hapsburgian Papists, Lutheran Christians, Gypsy Roma, Turkish Ottomans, etc etc etc]?

rob said...

Sometimes, when the mother is depressed, in utero, I mean when she is pregnant or at birth, sometimes the child can be autistic,”

This sort of thing is coming around again through the back door of epigenetics. Not real epigenetics like 'bone cells make bone, skin cells make skin. How the F does that work?' But the 'you don't know that blacks are blacker or less intelligent genetically w/o epigenetics' silliness.

Very soon now, expect to see articles about how a depressed pregnant women programs the fetus for a higher risk of depression [substitute various things for depression as you like] as the next desperate alternative to genetic inheritance. It is then a hop and a jump to mom didn't smile enough, so the kid is epigenetically modified to be autistic.

Too bad Maya beat me to it.

The appeal of mom-based pseudoepigenetics [to coin an overly long word that no one will ever use] will be especially strong to explain black pathologies. Dad's aren't around to have any non-genetic influence, and they aren't available for their genetic influence to be measured.

As to the mother's of autistic kids and their personalities, an analogy to mental retardation may be apt. Some retarded children also tend to have physical differences and health problems, but have totally normal parents and siblings. They have 'organic retardation' caused by things like trisomy or nonreciprocal translocations, or a single badly broken gene. Other retarded people have 'familial retardation' and are physically pretty normal, and have IQ scores not much lower than their dim parents and siblings: they got lots of alleles that have small IQ effects.

There may be 'familial autism' that is a tail of a polygenic trait, they'd tend to have 'weird' relatives. Other kids have 'organic autism caused by a single genetic difference with a huge effect. Could actually be worth looking into.

Anonymous said...

demographis of Freud's patients/
deomgraphics of people undergoing psychoanalysis in the US in the, say, 70's and 80's.

First of all, many people underwent psychoanlaysis (the writer Contrad Aiken, e.g. ) as a
personal exploration and an intellectual journey, not under the presumption that their mental functioning with outside of normal limits.

The association techniques that Hans Eysenck (see his DECLINE AND FALL OF THE FREUDIAN EMPIRE) attributes to Galton's genius and that were used by Freud, do not
depend upon "silly theories" etc.

Anecdotal reports I've received indicate that psychoanalysis is
almost always based in urban areas and typically the person undergoing it is a youthful male
businessman (businessman? It costs about $200 a session , which 2x a week would amount over a year to a helluva a lot of beer money. ) The process is a what vis a vis contemporary treatments of mental maladies would amount itself to a kind of "slow medicine", as it were. There is every reason to believe that with normal personalities, the process is a gradual percpetual/emotional prothesis to a keener rate of maturation and a keener rate of consolidating productive personality functions.

Mr. Sailer appears unable to perceive anything in Freudianism
that would account for the rather long period of ascendancy it had in intellectual circles as well as in medical/psychological circles.
It appears in retrospect never to have had a wide range of efficacious application. Eysenck's own "bombshell" research done in the 50's demonstrated a "hidden in plain sight" aspect that had not been perceived--namely that while people undergoing psychoanalysis usually improved, matched groups of people receiving no treatment but having the same troubling neurotic symptoms also tended to improve in the same way and to the same extent--i.e., Mother Nature and Father Time were turning the wheels.

The irony is that psychanlysis probably was efficacious as a means of expedited personal growth.
But in an age of informally therapeutic use of marijuana, LSD (now legal for therapy purposes in Switzerland ), etc. and improved
scientifically rigorous treatments via cognitive-behavioral therapy,
etc., it is not cost effective for most people. But it is "a bit much" to assume that it gained such broad regard by offering nothing real to anyone real.

Anonymous said...

"Freudianism" to many people simply refers to any assumption that subconscious mental activity is central to many mental dysfunctions. What is lost in this generalization is that for
a few decades before Freud gained
regard, the study of subconscious mental activity toward re-ordering mental dysfunction was a robust domain of medicine (and later psychology ) Many persons from the US and other nations came to France to study under Charcot and Janet. Morton Prince was one such. The neurologist Sigmund Freud from Vienna was another such. It is deserving of a good deal of scrutiny as to just how Freud managed to take over and re-define all this prior work. Morton Prince, in particular, was dismayed by this
grand captivation. The Soviets wrangled around in spasmodic attempts to sift out of "Freudianism" that which was scientifically tenable and that which was lost to science. They never got to harbor in the effort.

ogunsiron said...

They believe in it enough for a popular philosopher like Michel Onfray to be confronted with accusations of being an antisemite for trying to topple freudianism down.

It sounds weird to us in North-America that anyone outside of departments of english still takes Freud seriously.

Jewish ideas suceed differently in different lands. Neoconism is still not the mainstream in France while it reigns supreme over here. Freudianism was successfully uprooted here but it's still going strong in France.