Cognitive and Psychoanalytic conceptualisations of autism- a comparative literature review.

Tom Richardson

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In the time since the condition was originally labelled in 1943, a wide range of theories have been put forward to explain the emergence, maintenance and treatment of autism. There is often controversy in this area, as different paradigms often disagree about the aetiology of autism, and its subsequent treatment. This paper reviews and compares conceptualisations of autism based on the psychoanalytic and cognitive paradigms, exploring separate theories within these models such as weak central coherence, theory of mind, executive function, autistic identification, drives and attachment in autism, and refrigerator mother theory. The cognitive and psychoanalytic models approaches to treatment, and their subsequent effectiveness are also reviewed, and consideration is given to controversies in the treatment of this pervasive developmental disorder. It is concluded based on the available literature that the psychodynamic model focuses primarily on the emergence and causes of autism, whereas the cognitive model is more concerned with the maintenance of the disorder and its cognitive consequences and symptoms, whilst neither give sufficient consideration to its treatment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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