Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Wall: French Psychoanalysis and Autism

I have written about the problem extensively, both on this blog and in my book The Last Psychoanalyst. The medical health establishment in France, controlled in large part by psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic thinking has been derelict in its treatment of autistic children.

Filmmaker Sophie Robert brought the problem to public attention in her 2011 documentary film: The Wall. Three of the psychoanalysts represented therein sued Robert for defamation. They won the first trial in a district court and eventually lost on appeal.

For those who do not know French we now have the full story in English along with an English translation of the text of The Wall.

For those who want to know how French psychoanalysts—both Lacanian and not—see autism and to study the full story of this film and what happened to a filmmaker who ran afoul of psychoanalysts who belong to the major Lacanian organization in France, the Ecole de la Cause Freudienne (trans. The Wholly Freudian Church) the history and the transcript should be illuminating.


KCFleming said...

I shared this link with my son, who recently filmed a documentary called "A Self Chosen State", about my brother's diagnosis of autism by Bruno Bettelheim (the 'refrigerator mother' theory) and the mistreatment that followed.
A very similar belief as the French.

(It was recently selected for AS Film Festival where it will play next month in the Maxxi National Museum of Art in Rome, Italy.)

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks so much. It's an excellent. I will do a post on it for the blog. For now, I passed on the link to some of my friends in Paris.

KCFleming said...

That's very kind.

Bettelheim was one of those actual impostors you wrote about, a true fraud.

"Bettelheim came of age in the 1920s in Vienna, which, as home to Sigmund Freud, was the capital of the psychoanalytical world. When the Nazis took over Austria in the late 1930s, Bettelheim was taken off to a concentration camp along with other members of the Jewish community.

Those reports of Bettelheim's sadistic side inspired reporters (including myself) to look into his professional qualifications. It was thus discovered that, somewhere between Vienna and Chicago, he had reinvented himself--right out of the proverbial whole cloth.

It turned out that Dr. B wasn't a medical doctor nor even did he have a degree in a psychology. As a young man, he had operated his family's lumber yard, even though he detested a businessman's life. Belatedly, he had earned a doctorate in art history, the subject he taught at Rockford College.

But when the directorship of the Orthogenic School became available, he evidently gambled that because of the war no one would be able to check on his credentials. So he intimated to U. of C. officials that he had been cross-trained in psychology. Yet when his transcript was posthumously examined, it showed he had taken but three introductory courses in the field.

During his Vienna years, Bettelheim had undergone analysis. His friends and ex-wife recalled that he was motivated to do so because his first marriage was failing. Yet once he became Dr. B of the Orthogenic School, he reinterpreted those sessions on the couch as the kind of training analysis every psychoanalyst must undergo.

Once having fictionalized his autobiography, Bettelheim embellished it with successive retelling of the story. Eventually, he portrayed himself as having been accepted as a candidate for membership in the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society--the movement's mother church--even according the great Sigmund himself a role in that scenario.

"This is just the person we need for psychoanalysis to grow and develop," Freud supposedly said of Bettelheim."