Skip to main content

Group Therapy in Childhood Psychosis (1965)

Rex W. Speers and Cornelius Lansing
University of North Carolina Press

Book details the ongoing group therapy of five small children deemed "psychotic" (i.e. autistic) at a Chapel Hill psychiatric clinic in the early 1960s.  Then suddenly this happens:
As an integral part of the program, each family hired a colored "mammy" who was to be in the home 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, to relive the mother of responsibility for the physical care of the sick child as much as possible.  She was instructed to play with the child at whatever level he wished and to gratify as many of his wishes as possible.  We had hoped the "mammy" would proved the child with an alternative to the constant anxiety-provoking interaction with the mother.  In practice, however, we discovered that the mothers' jealousy prevented them from hiring the desired type of "mammy."  In most cases a maid was hired to perform the household duties, while the mother continued her intense interaction with the child.  In those instances where an adequate "mammy" was hired, the tensions resulted in her being dismissed within a short period of time.  The mothers withheld information about the "mammy," and it was only when the social scientist made home visits that inadequacy of the hired maid was discovered. 
Given that autism/psychosis in children was, in the early 1960s, generally thought to be the fault of "icebox moms" (emotionally detached mothers), using grant money to hire a "colored mammy" for each patient probably made a lot of sense.  Still, it would be interesting to know if and why the supervisors of this study insisted on African-American help in the psychotic home (all of the children in the group are white).  No doubt this logic (presented here as self-evidently scientific) was based on the racist legacy of the "mammy" as an inherently nurturing being--a "magic negro" whose open heart and folksy wisdom could distract the psychotic child from the emotional train wreck that is the skinny, uptight, frosty, white mother.  Astounding.  Someone write a dissertation about this immediately so I can read more about it.

Popular posts from this blog

Whatever Happened to "Radar" O'Reilly?

A DA-7 hardship discharge brought Radar right back to where he started in life: Ottumwa, Iowa. In less than a month he knew he had made a terrible mistake.  Radar had neither the inclination nor the tenacity necessary to run a working farm, and soon he and his mother were even closer to bankruptcy than ever before.  After a long talk, Radar finally persuaded his ailing mother to go live with her sister in a neighboring town.

Somehow during this difficult period of transition, Radar became engaged to be married.  But after announcing his intention to sell the farm and all the livestock, Radar's bride-to-be began acting strangely--or so it seemed to Radar.  The night before the wedding, a panicked O'Reilly arrived unannounced on the doorstep of his surrogate father, Colonel Sherman T. Potter (who had taken a position shortly after the Armistice supervising the V.A. hospital in River Bend, Missouri, just a few hours south of Ottumwa).  As it so happened, Radar burst into the hou…

Violent Jeff Foxworthy Breakfast Snipes

The Inhuman Centipede

Maybe you’ve been ignoring the whole Human Centipede thing hoping it would eventually go away.  And no one would blame you.  By now, almost every pop- literate citizen is at least aware of the basic premise—psychotic German surgeon abducts three people and sutures them together, ass to mouth, to form the “human centipede” (after practicing on his three Dobermans, the lost, lamented “3-dog”).  No one should have to see something like that if they don’t want to.  For many, it’s bad enough just knowing it exists—try to “unthink” that premise once you’ve heard it.
The “human centipede” is a brilliant concept that made for a decent film.  Congratulations to writer/director Tom Six for imagineering a genuinely novel development in the horror repertoire, especially this late in the game.   By virtue of the premise alone, The Human Centipede was the biggest innovation in exploitation since the great hype-cloud that allowed The Blair Witch Project to blur possibility and probability back in 1…