France and Autism
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The first approach to autism in France was based on the psychoanalytic model, in terms of etiology as well as in treatments. Regarding etiology, the parents’ role in the pathology’s development was emphasized leading to treatments based on that interpretation. Therefore, in the extent that the child’s autism was supposed to be due to relational difficulties, psychotherapy prevailed for many years. There were mostly institutional interventions, implemented in day hospitals. They were initiated by psychiatrists such as Roger Misès and Serge Lebovici. Despite the assertions that psychoanalysts used a multifactorial approach, the treatments were essentially psychological leaving little room for educational aspects. Above all, they preferred a nondirective attitude saying that it was better to wait for “the emergence of desire” rather than to provide teaching. The parents were not directly involved in their child’s treatment and had to personally undergo psychotherapy....
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