Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Refrigerator Mothers,the MSbP Myth and some films to watch.

Refrigerator Mothers and the MSbP Myth. 

Autism Families accused of MSbP / Fii  -  If you've got 53 minutes and can pay $2.49 on a credit card this is well worth watching. Refrigerator Mothers - Kartemquin Films 50th - link below.

It's American and therefore in English, unlike the more recent Sophie Robert TV film 'Le Mur' which is in French on YouTube. (Do watch the short crocodile sequence with a puppet - it transcends language! ) links below.

Both cover the issue of childhood autism being blamed on the mother, as a result of Freudian or Psychodynamic theory, and in particular the work on Refrigerator Mothers, by the Psychiatrist Dr Bruno Bettelheim in the 1950s & 1960s.

There's a fascinating bit in the Refrigerator Mothers film, where Bettelheim actually relates his experience in a Nazi camp and compares the locked in feeling he experienced there to what he wrongly assumes is the child's experience of autism. He blames mothers for this and his view became common in medical and educational theory and practice.

The Sophie Robert film demonstrates that his theories are still alive and well, with French autistic children being denied an education, in favour of the kind of terrifying treatments which one presumes we're going on behind the locked door of Bettelheim's house, as shown in the American Film.

I was wrongly accused of MSbP in 1999, and it appears, from recent events in my locality, that there are still those who believe that I was / am mentally ill and have caused my son's Asperger's Syndrome and invented the hereditary Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which afflicts my daughter quite seriously (and my son and I more mildly). This is all part of the Freudian / Bettelheim mythology. 

A fortnight ago, before I'd heard of or seen the Refrigerator Mother's film, I met to discuss current trends and crises in Child Protection legislation and practice, with a leading solicitor who deals with false MSbP / Fii cases. I shared with him a thought which I've only previously ever dared to share with my immediate family, but which I'm beginning to think needs wider consideration. I hardly dare to utter it here, but I'd be interested in feedback, especially after I've just watched the Refrigerator Mothers film.

In 2000 / 2001 the Blair government were given ample alerts to the growing problem of false accusations of MSbP and even promised Kirsty Wark, on Newsnight, that they'd investigate, but they didn't. Socialist administrations in France have similarly failed (as instanced by Sophie Robert in the film and through the long documented legal battle to bring 'Le Mur' to public view). The whole Freudian construct of Refrigerator Mothers and Crocodile Teeth on which MSbP / Fii is based, has its origins in the persecuted Jewish Community in Europe surrounding WW2. This was horrific and I fully sympathise, but we mustn't make mistakes now and in the future because of what happened then and there. Might it be that modern socialist administrations have feared to refute the MSbP myth, because they are afraid to take on the elderly Jewish academics (filmed in France by Sophie Robert, but I've also seen and heard their UK counterparts lecturing to academic and political gatherings) - for fear of being labelled Holocaust deniers? 

There may also be a tenuous link, which I'm still trying to think out, and on which I'd love feedback, with regard to John Bowlby's Attachment Theory. This was developed from a very small sample in a very unusual post war situation (children born to women whose husbands either died in the war or returned to their original wives and families when the war ended). This theory has become very popular again today, despite the irrelevance of the original research to today's social, economic and medical circumstances. Bowlby's research was conducted at the time when Bettelheim was, by all accounts, a towering figure in the sphere of Freudian theory.  Is it possible therefore, that Bettelheim influenced Bowlby's thinking?  Might that be part of the reason why Attachment Theory is proving to be a stick with which to beat the mothers of sick, disabled or neurologically different children today? 

Jan Loxley Blount 07:02:17

Autism Families accused of MSbP / Fii  -  If you've got 53 minutes and can pay $2.49 on a credit card this is well worth watching. Refrigerator Mothers - Kartemquin Films 50th
Refrigerator Mothers Trailer - Refrigerator Mothers - Kartemquin Films 50th

LE MUR ou la psychanalyse a l'épreuve de l'autisme - vidéo Dailymotion - this is in French but there is a Canadian English subtitled version somewhere in existence - I've seen it - however I can't find it! If you can find it please tell me.
Short Crocodile excerpt with puppet:  https://youtu.be/1Z0ADVq0SH0

Another related but lighter film worth watching is First Do No Harm - it's Meryl Streep, so you'll enjoy it! Her character's child becomes ill. She engages in research to find a cause and a cure and is blocked by the powers that be, who close ranks to defend their professional theories and reputations, at the expense of the mother, her family and especially the sick child. It's an excellent and horrific account of what goes wrong and so often leads to wrongful charges against parents.
First Do No Harm -Full movie

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