Friday, August 31, 2007

Regressive Autism was Childhood Schizophrenia

The following is from Leo Kanner's 1943 paper.

The outstanding, “pathognomonic,” fundamental disorder is the children’s inability to relate themselves in the ordinary way to people and situations from the begining of life. Their parents referred to them as having always been “sel-sufficient”; “like in a shell”; “happiest when left alone”; “acting as if people weren’t there”; “perfectly oblivious to everything about him”; “giving the impression of silent wisdom”; “failing to develop the usual amount of social awareness”;“acting almost as hypnotized.” This is not, as in schizophrenic children or adults, a departure from an initially present relationship; it is not a “withdrawal” from formerly existing participation.


(Emphasis mine)

There you have it, from the horse's mouth. It's not only true that regressive autism could have been confused with childhood schizophrenia. It was childhood schizophrenia even after Kanner first characterized autism, and I don't know for how long after that.

Today, of course, childhood schizophrenia seems to have all but disappeared.

While on the topic of Kanner, let me also debunk the myth that he claimed no one had ever observed autism before. Here's another excerpt.

These characteristics form a unique “syndrome,” not heretofore reported, which seems to be rare enough, yet is probably more frequent than is indicated by the paucity of observed cases. It is quite possible that some such children have been viewed as feebleminded or schizophrenic. In fact, several children of our group were intorduced to us as idiots or imbeciles, one still resides in a state school for the feebleminded, and two had been previously considered as schizophrenic.


(Emphasis mine)

I'll also add a link to Dr. Traffert's AWARES paper here, as it's relevant to this discussion: Dr Down and 'Developmental' Disorders.

22 comments:

  1. For more differentiation along those lines, try Francis Tustin's old book. Can't remember the title, and have returned it to the library already. But it also differentiated "true autism" from "childhood schizophrenia" in such a way that the vast majority of autistic people would not fit into the "true autism" category. (If any would at all, which is debatable.)

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  2. Thanks Amanda. I guess that would be Autistic States in Children (amazingly, available for free over at Google books).

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  3. Interesting tidbits Joseph. I'm glad to see you back, and bringing these things out to see the light of day.

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  4. Those are amazing quotes. So Kanner didn't think autism was invented in the 1930's by eli-lilly or anyone else.

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  5. "So Kanner didn't think autism was invented in the 1930's by eli-lilly or anyone else."

    Nor would Langdon Dawn, I'd imagine.

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  6. Langdon DOWN....


    Staating tö jyyz letöz laik finnis piipöl duu!

    (Starting to use letters like Finnish people do!)

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  7. Joe, You're not fooling anyone with your strange interpretation of Kanner's words. Just as none of us ever saw an autistic person when we were young, we never saw any schizophrenic children either. In fact, we never saw any retarded children who were the least bit similar to an autistic child. But, enjoy yourself thinking you can fool anyone with your leaps of logic.

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  8. Yes, it's that book, except those particular pages are not included in the free preview.

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  9. "So Kanner didn't think autism was invented in the 1930's by eli-lilly or anyone else."

    Seems that only the occasional insignificant lunatic thinks that it was.

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  10. Dave,
    As you can clearly see, Kanner knew it was something never seen before. Nobody knew that Eli Lilly invented it until Verstraeten gave us that information in 1999.

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  11. "Strange interpretation of Kanner's words" ??!!

    I basically just posted what he said. The words are right there and they are quite clear. How the heck would you interpret them?

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  12. Joe,
    I know you can read better than that. Kanner said it hadn't been seen before and was not schizophrenia.
    BTW, I was reading about LSD Psychosis today. I guess that's why Amanda knows she can't be cured.

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  13. I know you can read better than that. Kanner said it hadn't been seen before and was not schizophrenia.

    Oh man. The words are right there! What part of "not heretofore reported" was not clear? What part of "quite possible that some such children have been viewed as feebleminded or schiziphrenic" did you miss?

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  14. Kanner was talking about the present, so stating that children with this new condition could have been called schizo or feebleminded. He was not saying that feebleminded children from past generations could have been autistic since the autism he described had not heretofore been seen. Do you understand?
    It's like Amanda being diagnosed autistic and the diagnostician might not have known she had fried her brain with LSD.

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  15. Kanner did not specify a time limit. You're grasping at straws there, John. When he says "some such children" he clearly doesn't mean "these 11 children". He means all autistic children, as he understood the term at the time. When he says "have been viewed", he doesn't necessarily mean "have been viewed in the last decade". If Kanner had believed what you claim he believed, he could've been clear about it. Instead, he was careful about his wording. Obviously, he was not aware of Dr. Down's work; otherwise he couldn't have claimed to be the first to report the syndrome.

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  16. "These characteristics form a unique “syndrome,” not heretofore reported, which seems to be rare enough, yet is probably more frequent than is indicated by the paucity of observed cases.
    By this, Kanner thought there were more than the 11 kids he had met. Note that he clearly states it is a unique syndrome not heretofore reported.

    That means you are guilty of trying to obfuscate the facts.

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  17. Fore, you wouldn't know a fact if it landed on your desk and introduced itself, simply because your twisted perception blinds you from thinking with an open mind.

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  18. Anon,
    This is about simple reading comprehension. It looks like those with mercury in their brains are challenged in this area.

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  19. It's a waste of time to argue with someone who arrived at their unchangeable interpretation of the quote before they even read the quote. I think most people can see through the name-calling and can form their own opinions about what a reasonable interpretation of what was said is.

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  20. As an addendum, I've found that Kanner had the same opinion of autism vs. regression as late as 1965. From Kanner (1965):

    "This definition does not quite account for the status of our patients. For one thing, withdrawal implies a removal of oneself from previous participation. These children have never participated. They have begun their existence without the universal signs of infantile response."

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  21. Fore Sam, how would you explain this quote:

    "Eight years ago [in the year 1532] at Dessau, I, Dr. Martin Luther, saw and touched a changeling. It was twelve years old, and from its eyes and the fact that it had all of its senses, one could have thought that it was a real child. It did nothing but eat; in fact, it ate enough for any four peasants or threshers. It ate, shit, and pissed, and whenever someone touched it, it cried. When bad things happened in the house, it laughed and was happy; but when things went well, it cried. It had these two virtues. I said to the Princes of Anhalt: "If I were the prince or the ruler here, I would throw this child into the water--into the Molda that flows by Dessau. I would dare commit homicidium on him!" But the Elector of Saxony, who was with me at Dessau, and the Princes of Anhalt did not want to follow my advice. Therefore, I said: "Then you should have all Christians repeat the Lord's Prayer in church that God may exorcise the devil." They did this daily at Dessau, and the changeling child died in the following year.... Such a changeling child is only a piece of flesh, a massa carnis, because it has no soul."
    http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/gerchange.html

    Clearly, there were autistic kids in the 1500s too, unless you think that kid really was a supernatural being sent by the devil.

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