Thursday, December 31, 2020

France, Psychoanalysis and Autism

For some longtime readers of this blog, it will feel like an old story. For those who read my book on The Last Psychoanalyst, it will sound familiar.

The story involves France, psychoanalysis and autism. As filmmaker Sophie Robert documented in her film, The Wall (Le Mur) France stands alone in refusing to treat autistic children with the best that science has to offer. It rejects behavioral and cognitive approaches because its psychoanalysts refuse to accept them.

You see, these new treatments work reasonably well. Psychoanalysis does not work at all. Ergo, France must keep the new treatments out of the country, lest an alien Anglo-Saxon culture, based on empirical science, gain a foothold.

Now, as a coda to the debate, Dorothy Bishop and Joel Swendson have published a paper on the problem, in the BJ Psych Bulletin, published by the Cambridge University Press for the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Link here.

Here is the summary:

In most countries, social or behavioural interventions are recommended for autism. However, in France, psychoanalysis is still used, despite objections by patients, families and mental health experts. Supporters of psychoanalysis maintain that the choice of therapeutic approach is a matter of cultural preference, and that objections to psychoanalysis arise from misunderstandings. We argue that more deep-rooted problems are the lack of an evidence base for psychoanalysis and its focus on sexual relationships between children and adults, which demonises mothers and can put children at risk of abuse. Furthermore, psychoanalysis in France is protected from criticism by powerful educational and political networks.

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