The Othering of Autism

May 1-3, 2020

Winnicott in 1949 wrote, “The live body, with its limits, and with an inside and an outside, is felt by the individual to form the core for the imaginative self.” The quest to better understand Autism Spectrum phenomena offers a singular opportunity to view the brain’s infinitely intricate intertwining with the psyche. The neurobiology of autism affects the creation of a mind at every level: the quality of relatedness and attachment, the capacity to take in a good enough mother, the extent to which the parental environment is felt to be protective, sustaining and containing, the ability to use imagination to bridge the gap between self and other. This weekend will offer an approach to autism by way of multiple distinct yet intersecting strands. And, by doing so, bring us in closer to the humanity of those on the autism spectrum.

The weekend will also serve as a forum for thinking about the othering of those identified as different from whatever it is that we determine ‘us’ to mean. In that light, we will look at the ways that Autism Spectrum Phenomena exemplify the interface between the hard-wiring construction materials of our corporeal selves and the imaginative elaboration of how we came to have the brains and bodies our minds inhabit, and how our brains and bodies impact the ways we, as Thomas Ogden says, “dream ourselves into being.”