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From the Publisher"While we accompany the author on his journey (which he says is more like a traveller’s tale than a scientific report) we can clearly perceive how, alongside the rich and evocative clinical descriptions, a complete picture emerges of certain modalities of mental functioning. These modalities observed in autistic children have a more general scope than in psychopathology and even lead us to rethink certain basic concepts in psychoanalysis. The research recorded in this book allowed Meltzer to come into contact with children who were unable to form an object containing a space to be used in their mental development. Later, using conclusions drawn from this work, Meltzer went on to formulate the aesthetic conflict in a book which pairs with this one: The Apprehension of Beauty”.
"Donald Meltzer’s brilliant lessons supervising my analysis of a post-autistic boy have increased my psychoanalytical instruments for investigating the transference and countertransference: how to observe emotional and behavioural facts during the session (not only verbalizations), and how to seek out my own dream images in order to carry on with the analysis."
"The rigorous exploration reported in this book has shed a totally new light on the subjective experience of autistic children and hence on the primitive developmental phases of every human mind. A new metapsychological model of the psyche stems from the description here of fundamental concepts like primal depression, dismantling, adhesive identity, dimensionality as a parameter of mental functioning. These concepts refer not so much to a theory of conflict as in classical metapsychology, but rather to a theory of gradient which will lead to Meltzer’s theory of the aesthetic object. This book displays brilliantly the creativity of psychoanalytic work applied to a new psychopathological field, both in helping the patients recover their mental health and also in understanding new layers of the human mind."