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Matthias

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Bruno Bettelheim, a psychoanalyst who studied autistic children, wrote in his book "The Empty Fortress" in 1967 that children with classic autism displayed symptoms consistent with parental rejection and claimed he helped them recover from autism through purely psychological intervention. He blamed autism on really bad mothers (he called them "devouring witches" in his book) and is the reason the Refrigerator Mother theory became popular. His claims were rejected after his theory fell out of favor.

I wrote a story explaining how a child described in his book could have recovered from classic autism despite him being wrong about bad mothers being the initial cause. Keep in mind the DSM-I was used at the time so a child who ended up with high functioning autism wouldn't have been considered autistic.

Here's my story:

Joey was born with autistic traits inherited from his parents. Like many adults who misinterpret those with autistic traits as being cold and indifferent, Joey made the same mistake when he was a baby. He felt his parents had rejected him which also made him think there must be something wrong with him. Feeling rejected because he was different and believing there was nothing he could do about it, he became depressed, lost interest in people, and preferred to be alone. To avoid feeling lonely, he used his imagination to create a world of his own inside his mind which led to him being diagnosed with classic autism due to his delayed speech and odd behavior.

His negative interactions with people reinforced his belief that he was defective. Since feeling rejected when he was a baby was a traumatic experience and his mind associated being different with being rejected, he suffered fear and emotional distress similar to those with PTSD which led him to tell people he was controlled by machines in the hope they would judge the machines instead of him if he said or did something abnormal.

Joey's black and white thinking resulted in him putting most people in one category (normal people) and himself and other odd people in another category. Comparing the two groups, he felt inferior, sad that he wasn’t like everyone else, ashamed since he often blamed himself for his problems, angry that others didn’t accept him, fearful since he didn't understand the other group, and hopeless since he felt he was born that way and couldn’t change. Those emotions created internal stress which caused his brain to work differently which made it impossible to understand other people and act normally.

Fortunately, Joey learned about CBT and used it to correct his distorted beliefs which greatly reduced the negative emotions he experienced. After the stress caused by his beliefs and emotions went away, he was able to think more clearly and understood people better. After a year of making up for the positive social interaction he lacked, he no longer had any trouble fitting in and making friends. Although he still had autistic traits, he no longer met the criteria for autism and his diagnosis was removed. He wish he could be reborn by his mother knowing he wasn't rejected because then he never would have been autistic.
 
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I'm skeptical about this - mainly as, to quote Wikipedia, "Much of [Bruno Bettelheim]'s work was discredited after his death due to fraudulent academic credentials, allegations of abusive treatment of patients under his care, accusations of plagiarism, and lack of oversight by institutions and psychological community."

Here's the bit about the numerous controversies surrounding him - including regarding his views on/treatment of Autism/Autistic individuals: Bruno Bettelheim - Wikipedia
 
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You or the person in the story if different, probably formerly had a borderline diagnosis and then as diagnosis is largely behavioral your work on yourself tipped it so the diagnosis was removed, as you/they clearly wished it to be. Diagnosis is often not given to well functioning adults who nevertheless recognise their own difference internally. The story suggests that having therapy can help and can mean some people no longer meet criteria for diagnosis rather than that you or others can recover from autism.
 
Not got round to Bettelheim yet. I can however recommend the many books of first-hand experience by autistic authors, none of whom are bitchy. We've all had huge worries, and shall have.

You didn't explain your purpose in posting?
 
Not got round to Bettelheim yet. I can however recommend the many books of first-hand experience by autistic authors, none of whom are bitchy. We've all had huge worries, and shall have.

You didn't explain your purpose in posting?

My purpose was to explain that it's possible to recover from autism using CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) which people can do on their own without a therapist. I read Bettelheim's book after I recovered from autism and found out he helped people recover in the 1950s. I know his accounts are true because he went into great detail about how autistic people felt, what they were thinking, and why they behaved abnormally while they were autistic and when they were recovering from autism. I never found anyone who understood autism as well as Bettelheim.

The main reason his work was rejected was because he blamed mothers (he's the one who made the Refrigerator Mother theory popular). Although he was wrong about that, everything else could be explained by their mistaken belief they were rejected since when it comes to psychology perception matters more than reality.
 
I'm skeptical about this - mainly as, to quote Wikipedia, "Much of [Bruno Bettelheim]'s work was discredited after his death due to fraudulent academic credentials, allegations of abusive treatment of patients under his care, accusations of plagiarism, and lack of oversight by institutions and psychological community."

Here's the bit about the numerous controversies surrounding him - including regarding his views on/treatment of Autism: Bruno Bettelheim - Wikipedia

The Wikipedia article notes that the source cited by the OP, The Empty Fortress, has been almost completely discredited today. In the 1950s and 60s the term "autism" was far more fluid than now, and was applied to children who likely had what we would now call antisocial personality disorder or who had any number of mental illnesses due to actual parental mistreatment as babies/toddlers. The popularity of the "refrigerator parent" theory back then was likely due in large part to the conflation of children with actual biological autism with children who had behavioral problems due to parental abuse. Furthermore, Bettelheim had close to zero training in psychology, except for a handful of basic classes required for his actual degree, in art history. He didn't know what he was doing, and apparently relied on his physical similarity to Freud to skate by.
 
I'm skeptical about this - mainly as, to quote Wikipedia, "Much of [Bruno Bettelheim]'s work was discredited after his death due to fraudulent academic credentials, allegations of abusive treatment of patients under his care, accusations of plagiarism, and lack of oversight by institutions and psychological community."

Here's the bit about the numerous controversies surrounding him - including regarding his views on/treatment of Autism: Bruno Bettelheim - Wikipedia

I'm aware. He was a Jew escaping persecution after being in a concentration camp and claiming to have a degree in psychology instead of philosophy allowed him to flee to safety in the US. The abuse allegations are unproven and irrelevant to whether he helped people recover from autism. The fact is first hand accounts reported him working 14-16 hours a day at the residential school where he worked, dedicated to trying to understand and help the autistic children who lived there. No one has refuted the accuracy of his recovery stories and I can confirm based on my own experience that he understood autism very well, much better than the so-called experts understand it today.
 
If you aren't autistic now, you never were.

Autism is a label for people who meet certain diagnostic criteria. If someone born with autistic traits became depressed when they were a baby (causing social withdraw) and had anxiety (causing social awkwardness) they'd meet the DSM-V criteria for autism. If they used CBT to get rid of their depression and anxiety, they'd just be left with autistic traits and would no longer meet the criteria for autism. How can you say they were never autistic?
 
My purpose was to explain that it's possible to recover from autism using CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) which people can do on their own without a therapist. I read Bettelheim's book after I recovered from autism and found out he helped people recover in the 1950s. I know his accounts are true because he went into great detail about how autistic people felt, what they were thinking, and why they behaved abnormally while they were autistic and when they were recovering from autism. I never found anyone who understood autism as well as Bettelheim.

The main reason his work was rejected was because he blamed mothers (he's the one who made the Refrigerator Mother theory popular). Although he was wrong about that, everything else could be explained by their mistaken belief they were rejected since when it comes to psychology perception matters more than reality.

You don't "recover" from Autism - it's generally considered to be a genetic condition, meaning it stays with you throughout your life; you just get better at dealing with life thanks to learning and experience so you're able to pass off been more 'normal' with some people passing off any eccentricities as 'quirkiness'.
If we could compare our Autism test results from childhood with our Autism test results from adulthood, I'm sure most of us would see that we're more capable of dealing with reality; it doesn't mean that our Autism has disappeared or being cured.
(Heck, some of us find just the idea of an Autism 'cure' to be utterly repulsive).
 
Is this thread about the benefit of CBT or recovery? You don't recover from autism and there is no cure unfortunately, but it's possible to adapt and learn how to manage it.
 
There are a few fallacies here. The main one is the idea that "feeling rejected" causes autism. From that follows the idea that simple therapy can cure it.

While CT may be very effective at helping someone overcome certain emotional or mental issues, such as feeling rejected, therapy cannot change the inherent structural differences in the brain which cause autism. At best, it will help someone to mask better. I believe that's another fallacy in the story - that learning to act normal makes someone non-autistic.

If you replace "cure of autism" with "learning to cope and masking autistic traits", and if I assume the person in the story is ASD-1 and on the very high functioning side, I would find the story believable.
 
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You don't "recover" from Autism - it's generally considered to be a genetic condition, meaning it stays with you throughout your life; you just get better at dealing with life thanks to learning and experience so you're able to pass off been more 'normal' with some people passing off any eccentricities as 'quirkiness'.
If we could compare our Autism test results from childhood with our Autism test results from adulthood, I'm sure most of us would see that we're more capable of dealing with reality; it doesn't mean that our Autism has disappeared or being cured.
(Heck, some of us find just the idea of an Autism 'cure' to be utterly repulsive).

Autism is considered genetic because autistic traits are genetic and everyone with autism has autistic traits. When I say recover from autism, I'm referring to living in one's own world, social withdraw, and social awkwardness which may be due to depression, anxiety, and PTSD that started when a person was a baby. Until those issues are addressed, it's impossible to say everything is genetic.
 
Although he [Bruno Bettelheim] was wrong about that, everything else could be explained by their mistaken belief they were rejected since when it comes to psychology perception matters more than reality.

No.

Also, NO.

I read incredibly fast. I can analyse any system of rules (math, games, programming, etc) and quickly see the implications behind them, often finding ways to game the system that no one else around me has seen. I "feel" math solutions before I can formally prove them. How can "feeling rejected" give me those talents?

I can't remember faces, often misread emotions, and tend to take anything people say about themselves at face value. I have no visual memory at all, but I can recite almost verbatim any passage of text that I have read recently. So, you're saying that if I stopped "feeling rejected", all that would go away? I'd suddenly be able to understand people?
 
There are a few fallacies here. The main one is the idea that "feeling rejected" causes autism. From that follows the idea that simple therapy can cure it.

While CT may be very effective at helping someone overcome certain emotional or mental issues, such as feeling rejected, therapy cannot change the inherent structural differences in the brain which cause autism. At best, it will help someone to mask better. I believe that's another fallacy in the story - that learning to act normal makes someone non-autistic.

Studies have shown there aren't any structural differences in the brain. A CT or MRI scan of an autistic brain looks identical to a non-autistic brain. The brain scans that are abnormal are SPECT, PET, and fMRI which don't show structural differences. They measure things like metabolism and can be affected by psychological factors. They are also abnormal in people with depression and anxiety and change when those conditions are treated.
 
No.

Also, NO.

I read incredibly fast. I can analyse any system of rules (math, games, programming, etc) and quickly see the implications behind them, often finding ways to game the system that no one else around me has seen. I "feel" math solutions before I can formally prove them. How can "feeling rejected" give me those talents?

I can't remember faces, often misread emotions, and tend to take anything people say about themselves at face value. I have no visual memory at all, but I can recite almost verbatim any passage of text that I have read recently. So, you're saying that if I stopped "feeling rejected", all that would go away? I'd suddenly be able to understand people?

None of the strengths you mentioned are part of the diagnostic criteria for autism. They are autistic traits and I wrote that autistic traits are genetic.

What I'm saying is that stress caused by a person's beliefs can impair their thinking and make it difficult to understand people, interpret things too literally, and cause them to have difficulty reading emotions.
 
Studies have shown there aren't any structural differences in the brain. A CT or MRI scan of an autistic brain looks identical to a non-autistic brain. The brain scans that are abnormal are SPECT, PET, and fMRI which don't show structural differences. They measure things like metabolism and can be affected by psychological factors. They are also abnormal in people with depression and anxiety and change when those conditions are treated.

In an argument, it's important to recognize the difference between people arguing a position and spectators.

The person arguing a certain position can sometimes be too emotionally invested in the position to change their mind. In the most extreme cases, they view opposition to their opinion as a personal attack on their very identity. In this case, no amount of reasoning or scientific evidence will change their mind. In fact, any resistance will often cause them to strengthen their view point - they dig deeper and double down on it.

When dealing with someone like that, the only constructive purpose the argument can serve is not to "win" the argument, but to inform the spectators. Since silence is often misconstrued as assent, others reading or viewing the discussion need to see that the wrong position does not go unopposed.




I believe you are emotionally vested in your opinion. I say this because you joined an Autism forum, posted that you have "recovered" are are no longer autistic, asked for input, and are now arguing with every opposing viewpoint. You may not "feel rejected" anymore, but you are still actively seeking validation.

I have stated my opposition to your viewpoint for the purpose of others reading this thread, and will let that stand.
 
Studies have shown there aren't any structural differences in the brain. A CT or MRI scan of an autistic brain looks identical to a non-autistic brain. The brain scans that are abnormal are SPECT, PET, and fMRI which don't show structural differences. They measure things like metabolism and can be affected by psychological factors.

It's at the molecular level that scientists have discovered a difference in autism. The genetic RNA is where the differences occur. A CT or an MRI would not show noticable differences in an autistic brain, only different areas of activity in comparison to the usual brain scans. Gene co-expression is attenuated in the autistic brain, which indicate abnormal samples in cortical patterning. There are many variants which indicate this genetic causal development in autism.
 
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I think part of the confusion is how autism is defined. Here are 2 symptoms from the DSM-V:

1. "poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication"
2. "extreme distress at small changes"

I'd say #1 is an autistic trait that is genetic
I'd say #2 is psychological and can be overcome

I still have #1. I don't have #2 anymore. I used to suffer extreme distress at small changes but now small changes don't cause me any distress. I'd say that proves at least some of the symptoms used to diagnose autism aren't genetic.
 
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