THE BACKWARD CHILD AND HIS MOTHER by Maud Mannoni

THE BACKWARD CHILD AND HIS MOTHER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Dr. Mannoni (The Child, His ""Illness"" and the Others, 1970) is the French, rigorously Freudian, psychoanalyst and this short, not too extensive development of her thesis was attacked (see the preface) for various ""unjustifiable"" reasons when it appeared in 1964. Namely her failure to distinguish between feeblemindedness and psychosis although in all the literature dealing with severely regressed and/or autistic children diagnosis and differentiation have been notably lacking. Therefore who can argue with her later plea that any ""three-month trial period of psychotherapy is worth trying""? Or dispute that segregation (i.e. institutionalization) may well aggravate the condition and perhaps impair the child permanently. Even if you do not go along with her central premise that the ""wish to treat the symptom is to reject the child himself."" Or her marginal amplification of the question of retardation in which the child is seen as an extension of the parent's (sick) psyche in a reciprocal, collusive ""echo"" relationship -- a damaging symbiosis in which the child who is a ""trial"" is also the medium for maternal love at its most ""sublime."" In an age attuned to the shorter, more reality-centered forms of psychotherapy which Dr. Mannoni dismisses from her authentically Freudian stance, this seems unlikely to find many adherents.

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 1972
Publisher: Pantheon