Carole Contaut, a French mom, translated this article posted on the famous magasine " L'express" - 18 November 2011
You can see here the psychoanalytic vision of autism in this article
Autism: psychoanalysts prosecute a documentary filmmaker
Legal action has been taken over a documentary, “The Wall: psychoanalysis put to the test for Autism”, which concludes to psychoanalysis’ failure in treatment for autism.
Legal action over a documentary, “The Wall: psychoanalysis put to the test for Autism” has been taken. A first hearing has been held by the Lille Regional Court on November 15th. Three of the thirty psychoanalysts interviewed in this film, which has been available online http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xlowfu_the-wall-or-psychoanalysis-put-to-the-test-for-autism_news at for two months by now, ask for a ban on the documentary. They are claiming damages from documentary filmmaker and independent producer Sophie Robert in the amount of 290 000€
This 52 minute documentary is presented on the Autistes Sans Frontières website as “an authentic proof by reductio ad absurdum that the psychoanalytic approach of autism is inefficient”. The plaintiffs, Eric Laurent, Esthela Solano et Alexandre Stevens, all members of the School of the Freudian Cause, feel they have been “tricked”. The project has been put before them as a “journey into the unconscious” before it revealed itself as a controversial undertaking meant to ridicule psychoanalysis.They write in theirrequest : “the speakers’ thoughts and speeches have been oversimplified and misrepresented by the comments and their meanings”.
“Their statements have not been taken out of context”
This case comes at a time when mot associations representing people with autism and their families are denouncing the psychoanalytic approach of treatment of autism in France. For years they have been asking unsuccessfully for access to “educational” therapies which are extensively developed abroad. Quoted by Rue89, Delphine Piloquet, the General Delegate for Autistes Sans Frontière, highlights the toughness of their battle: ““It all gives the impression that we attack a religion of State. This film is stricken by a fatwa.” A spoof website parodying the Lacanian thought, has stated the main parts of the controversy, with a touch of humour and an explicit title “Sang sur le Mur” (an untranslatable play on two French phrases : “sang sur le mur”/ “blood on the wall” and “censure “le Mur””/ censor “the Wall”).
The judge has to make a first decision on November 29th, about the request for seizure of recordings, the film’s raw material. Interviewed by L’Express, Mr. Christian Charrière-Bournazel, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, explains that “my clients want to be able to watch the recordings and check the cut work that has been made of it” to justify this request. As a matter of fact, the case has started when documentary filmmaker Sophie Robert found a note stuck on her letter box, in the Lille Old Town building where she live and has established her production company, Océan Invisible Production. The noted mentioned a bailiff’s phone number and urged her to call that number.
She met the bailiff on October 25th; he informed her of the current judicial procedure and requested to seize the recordings. Sophie Robert refused, regarding this request as “a violation of the confidentiality of journalistic sources”. Indeed, apart the three plaintiffs, 24 other people have been interviewed in this documentary. She afterwards sent to the bailiff the written re-transcriptions of the recorded interviews with the three plaintiffs. “I have nothing to hide, “she says. “The statements of the three people involved have not been taken out of context; actually, they comply with the well-known, long-standing psychoanalytic views of treatment for autism.”
Psychoanalysts in a deadlock towards autism
The merits of the case, that is the question of the film ban, will be dealt with during a second bail hearing on December 8th. The filmmaker’s lawyer, M. Benoît Titran, insists in the importance of the debates upon this matter. “This is not about defamation; this is all about the image right”, he analyses. “The plaintiffs delivered information and were properly informed of the purpose of the film. But they realized afterwards the scope of their statements; therefore they don’t assume them anymore and they want to be able to reconsider the authorizations they gave. If the Court accepts their request, the basis of journalistic work will be undermined.”
Beyond the fate of this documentary, what is raised once again in this trial is the question of the treatment of children with autism. The majority of the scientific community consider their pathology as a neurotic disorder, probably genetic in origin. Parents associations are currently struggling so that therapies meant to offset this disability, such as ABA or PECS, develop in France. But psychoanalysts keep on explaining autism as the result of a failed relationship between the child and his mother, regarded as either too fusional, or too cold.
Therefore, what can people with autism expect from psychoanalysis? Well-known therapists interviewed in this film, with breathtaking honesty, give us the impression that they are in the deadlock. “The pleasure of taking interest in a soap bubble,” one of them answers after a long silence. Another explains later on: “With an autistic child, I do very little. What does very little mean? That I sit my butt down close to him, and I wait for something to happen.” A third one says: “I try to win over the child. I’m stepping back.” No one talks about packing, even though this method is based on psychoanalytic principles, but it’s probably too controversial to be mentioned. It consists in wrapping the child in cold and damp blankets in order to soothe him. This treatment is regarded as “barbaric” by many associations.
By requesting for a ban of this controversial film, the three psychoanalysts are taking a risk: drawing the general public's attention to a film, where, the audience has remained so far essentially confined to autistic rights defenders.