Freedom Expanded: Book 1—The Solution to Exposure
Part 6:5 Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
(Note, the codependency of children to the silent, resigned adult world and its affects that were just described in Part 6:4, and the causes and nature of autism and ADHD that are about to be described here, are also described later in Part 8:10 in the presentation on how the nurturing of our infants will now become one of the most important activities of a post-human-condition world. The purpose of the description and analysis of autism and ADHD that is about to be presented here is to evidence how the human race is now approaching terminal levels of alienation. While these two descriptions of autism and ADHD, and also of the codependency of children, do contain similar material, there are significant differences, which means the fullest analysis of autism, ADHD and of the codependency of children will be gained from reading both these presentations.)
The epidemic incidence of Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), for which the drug Ritalin is being mass prescribed, is a product of children becoming increasingly unable to cope with the extreme levels of upset anger, egocentricity and alienation in the world. While a few cases of autism are caused by physical damage to the brain, most are the result of extreme instances of infants not receiving the love, in particular from their mother, that their instincts expect, and, as a result, the infant has had to dissociate psychologically from its reality to cope with the violation and hurt to its instinctive self or soul. Able to safely admit now that our species’ original instinctive orientation was to living in a harmonious, happy, loving, non-alienated, non-egocentric, non-angry state, and that children come into the world expecting to encounter such a state, we can understand the incredible shock it must be for them to encounter the extreme upset that now exists. Many children can’t psychologically bridge the gap and have to adopt all manner of block-out of, and compulsive and obsessive distraction from, the mental anguish to cope, which is why we are seeing epidemic rates of ADHD and autism.
In his 1996 posthumously published book Thinking About Children, the former president of the British Psychoanalytical Society, psychiatrist D.W. Winnicott (1896-1971), who is described on the book’s cover as being ‘increasingly recognized as one of the giants of psychoanalysis’, gave the following honest description of the cause of autism. Winnicott wrote that in ‘a proportion of cases where autism is eventually diagnosed, there has been injury or some degenerative process affecting the child’s brain…[however] in the majority of cases…the illness is a disturbance of emotional development…autism is not a disease. It might be asked, what did I call these cases before the word autism turned up. The answer is…“infant or childhood schizophrenia” [Note, the etymology of the word ‘schizophrenia’ is schiz meaning ‘split’ or ‘broken’, and phrenos meaning ‘soul or heart’]’ (p.200 of 343). ‘There are certain difficulties that arise when primitive things are being experienced by the baby that depend not only on inherited personal tendencies but also on what happens to be provided by the mother. Here failure spells disaster of a particular kind for the baby. At the beginning the baby needs the mother’s full attention, and usually gets precisely this; and in this period the basis for mental health is laid down [p.212]…the essential feature [in a baby’s development] is the mother’s capacity to adapt to the infant’s needs through her healthy ability to identify with the baby. With such a capacity she can, for instance, hold her baby, and without it she cannot hold her baby except in a way that disturbs the baby’s personal living process…It seems necessary to add to this the concept of the mother’s unconscious (repressed) hate of the child [p.222]…it is the quality of early care that counts. It is this aspect of the environmental provision that rates highest in a general review of the disorders of the development of the child, of which autism is one’ (p.212). ‘Autism is a highly sophisticated defence organization. What we see is invulnerability…The child [develops]…a complex mental structure insuring against recurrence of…unthinkable anxiety [that results from the mother’s failure to provide her full attention]’ (pp.220, 221).
The following is a typical case history of an autistic child from one of the many documented by Winnicott: ‘When I first saw Ronald at the age of 8, he had very exceptional skill in drawing…Apart from drawing he was, however, a typical autistic child…I will look and see how things [Ronald’s behaviour] developed. The mother herself was an artist, and she found being a mother exasperating from one point of view in that although she was fond of her children and her marriage was a happy one, she could never completely lose herself in her studio in the way that she must do in order to achieve results as an artist. This was what this boy had to compete with when he was born. He competed successfully but at some cost…At two months the mother remembers smacking the baby in exasperation although not conscious of hating him. From the start he was slow in development…His slowness made him fail to awaken the mother’s interest in him, which in any case was a difficult task because of her unwillingness to be diverted from her main concern which is painting’ (pp.201, 202).
As will be explained in Part 8:4, it was ‘nurture’ not ‘nature’ (our genetics) that had by far the greatest influence on our own upbringing and make-up, and on the maturation of our species. Children come into the world expecting to be unconditionally loved. As has been explained before, and as will be fully explained in Part 8:4, unconditional love is what laid the foundations for our species’ moral conscience and sense of wellbeing. As a result of this heritage, and because it is fundamentally meaningful regardless, unconditional love is also what lays the foundations for our individual sense of what is right, true and worthwhile, and gives us our sense of relevance, meaning and overall wellbeing.
The problem with this truth of the importance of nurturing unconditional love in the development of our species and in the development of our own lives is that it confronts parents, mothers especially, with their inability to nurture their children as much as their children’s instincts expect. The truth of children’s deeply sensitive expectation of encountering an all-loving world, and of the immense importance of nurturing children with unconditional love, are terrifying truths for two-million-year-embattled, extremely upset parents of today to have to face. As John Marsden was quoted earlier as saying, ‘The biggest crime you can commit in our society is to be a failure as a parent and people would rather admit to being an axe murderer than being a bad father or mother.’ Far better are the ‘blame-all-our-ailments-on-genetics-or-disease-or-immunisation’ excuses that are flooding the scientific literature today. The child psychologist Oliver James acknowledged that ‘Our first six years play a critical role in shaping who we are as adults’, and then said ‘One of our greatest problems is our reluctance to accept a relatively truthful account of ourselves and our childhoods, as the polemicist and psychoanalyst Alice Miller pointed out’, adding that ‘believing in genes [as the cause of psychoses] removes any possibility of “blame” falling on parents’ (They F*** You Up: How to Survive Family Life, 2002, p.7,9,13 of 370). The American writer Andrew Solomon acknowledged in The Noonday Demon, his 2001 book about severe depression, ‘Being told you are sick is infinitely more cheering than being told you are worthless.’ How could a mother with an autistic child possibly have been expected to cope with accepting her cold, alienated state caused the autism? How much more bearable was it to blame autism on chemicals in our industrial world, childhood immunisation programs, a genetic predisposition or some contracted disease? Winnicott’s truthful account of the cause of autism was a rare and brave admission—and he knew it, cautioning himself and others to ‘expect resistance to the idea of an aetiology [cause] that points to the innate processes of the emotional development of the individual in the given environment. In other words, there will be those who prefer to find a physical, genetic, biochemical, or endocrine cause, both for autism and for schizophrenia’ (Thinking About Children, 1996, p.219 of 343).
It is only now with the ability to understand that there has been a good reason why nurturing has been so compromised that the truth of the importance of nurturing becomes at all bearable, but even with that understanding the truth of the importance of nurturing is one of those truths that people won’t be able to fully confront for a few generations. The fact is that since the upset battle of the human condition emerged no child has been able to be given the amount of love that all children received before the battle imposed itself. While nurturing created an integrated humanity—gave our species its instinctive orientation to behaving unconditionally selflessly—the subsequent emergence of consciousness compelled humanity to enter into a great battle against our instinctive self or soul’s ignorance of our conscious self’s need to understand the world. That necessary consciousness-centred, ‘ego-centric’, male-led battle unavoidably intruded upon and compromised women’s ability to fully nurture their offspring.
In another rare admission of the importance of nurturing and the effects of mothers’ failure to provide it, the great South African author Olive Schreiner (1855-1920) wrote: ‘They say women have one great and noble work left them, and they do it ill…We bear the world, and we make it. The souls of little children are marvellously delicate and tender things, and keep for ever the shadow that first falls on them, and that is the mother’s or at best a woman’s. There was never a great man who had not a great mother—it is hardly an exaggeration. The first six years of our life make us; all that is added later is veneer…The mightiest and noblest of human work is given to us, and we do it ill’ (The Story of an African Farm, 1883, p.193 of 300). The human race is naturally extremely embattled after two million years of its heroic search for knowledge. This means that virtually no mother now can hope to love her infants as much as their instincts expect to be loved. For their part, virtually no father now can hope to restrain their extreme egocentricity to the degree necessary to avoid oppressing their children somewhat—the effect of which, as Miranda Devine conceded, is that ‘we are all narcissists now’. Thankfully, however, we can now explain why nurturing has been so compromised, why mothers ‘do it ill’. Since virtually all humans now are so upset that virtually no one can hope to love their children as much as their children’s instincts expect, parents do have to be realistic. If there is too great an expectation on parents no one will be prepared to have children, which is obviously not the answer. However, with understanding of the human condition and the subsequent ability to admit how delicate our soul is, parenting will, and must, take on a whole new meaning and responsibility.
One of the people I have drawn looking down into the Abyss of Depression (see Part 6:1), holding their head in horror, could be a mother with an autistic child trying to face the truth that lack of love is the main reason for autism—or it could be any human for that matter, trying to confront the extent of their human-condition-afflicted, alienated imperfections. The situation of the mother of an autistic child provides just one stark example of how immense the Abyss of Depression depicted in the Humanity’s Situation drawing really is that is blocking humanity’s path to the truthful, sunlit, TRANSFORMED, human-condition-FREE new world—and therefore how immensely precious and thus important the new Sunshine Highway, TRANSFORMED LIFEFORCE WAY OF LIVING is where we support the truth while avoiding overly confronting it.