The Protective Shell in Children and Adults

Author(s) : Frances Tustin

The Protective Shell in Children and Adults

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : 1990
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 256
  • Category :
    Autism and Aspergers
  • Catalogue No : 2679
  • ISBN 13 : 9780946439812
  • ISBN 10 : 0946439818

Also by Frances Tustin

Autistic States in Children

Autistic States in Children

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The Protective Shell in Children and Adults does not propose a 'cure' for autism. Rather, it suggests that psychotherapeutic treatment which is based on a deep understanding of the function of autism can modify and heal the overwhelming need for this powerful inbuilt survival reaction, so that it is used appropriately in a less overall and crippling way.

This work is by a professional primarily for other professionals, but thoughtful people who are interested in the fundamental aspects of human nature will also find much to interest them. The papers which have been published in various journals or delivered to professional audiences since the appearance of Francis Tustin's previous book Autistic Barriers in Neurotic Patients are integrated with unpublished material written especially for this book, so that they can enrich and illuminate each other. A paper from the early days of her work with autistic children is the focus of this present work, since her awareness of encapsulation as being the major protective reaction associated with the autistic states of both psychotic and neurotic patients, has stemmed from that early paper.

Her theme in this book concerns the protective and preservative aspects of the type of autism which seems to be mainly psychogenic in origin, although there may be a minimal organic and hormonal disturbances. Particularly valuable is her attempt to clarify the specific differential characteristics of this disorder. Based on this clarification, the functions and handicaps that are unique to 'Psychogenic' autism are discussed, and their sources pinpointed.

Mrs Tustin adds to our understanding of autistic children, and the autistic capsule in neurotic adult patients, by showing that the autistic recourse to what she calls autistic sensation objects and autistic sensation shapes has handicapped cognitive, social and emotional development, which are shown to be intertwined. Here is a contribution from detailed psychotherapeutic work with autistic children, and the autistic capsules in neurotic adult patients, which not only help us to understand their tragic handicaps, but also throws light on certain details of the elemental levels of normal psychological development which they have missed. It is a kind of micro-psychology.

About the Author(s)

Frances Tustin (1913-1994) was renowned for her pioneering work on the psychoanalytic treatment of childhood autism. In 1952, Tustin joined the second intake of the new child psychotherapy training program at the Tavistock Clinic in London. Her interest in autism began in 1954 when she spent a year at the James Jackson Putnam Center in Boston, Massachusetts. She worked there both as a therapist and as a general assistant in managing autistic children. On returning to Britain the following year she established a close working relationship with Mildred Creak, a child psychiatrist at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, and later developed a private practice in which she specialised in treating the most disturbed children. From 1971 to 1973 she was principal child psychotherapist at the Tavistock Child Guidance Centre. The author of several books and influential papers, she taught extensively both abroad and in Britain, and her books have been widely translated. She was an Honorary Member of the Association of Child Psychotherapists and an Honorary Affiliate of the British Psychoanalytical Society. Several months after her death Tustin's husband, and the psychoanalysts Judith and Theodore Mitrani, founded the Frances Tustin Memorial Trust in Los Angeles (now based in Paris). The Trust awards an annual Frances Tustin Memorial Prize and lectureship for a clinical paper on, 'the treatment of primitive mental states in general and autistic states, in particular, in children, adolescents or adults.' Tustin's archive is held at the Wellcome Library.

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