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Asperger's Syndrome: Some Psychoanalytical Comments

The Letter, Issue 32, Autumn 2004, Pages 101 - 113


Donna Redmond

The protagonist in Mark Haddon's book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time[1] is a teenager with Asperger's Syndrome. The story accurately captures something of the essence of the condition, a boy who knows a great deal about maths and very little about human beings.

Although (conservatively) Asperger's Syndrome affects five to seven children in one thousand[2] and is found throughout the world[3] with some estimating the figures as high as one in a hundred,[4] the apparent increase in the disorder in recent years is explained within psychiatry in terms of an increased awareness of the disorder rather than an actual increase in incidence. Having worked with two teenage boys diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome over a period of one year I became very interested in the condition and wondered, can psychoanalysis offer any insights? The temperament5 of autistic individuals is now a subject of research because autistic presentations although they can be classified in a general manner, also display individual peculiarities. What strikes me about this assessment is the correlation between what is classed as temperament i.e. personality, and the existence of an unconscious subject.

When one speaks of what fascinates an autistic child surely one is speaking of desire and ultimately anxiety.

There is much written about the subject of autism from a psychiatric perspective as well as from a psychoanalytic one and some of these discussions are commensurate with each other.

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