Views & Reviews Review of the Week

New ways of thinking about autism

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a1664 (Published 17 September 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1664
  1. Iain McClure, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, Murray Royal Hospital, Perth, Australia
  1. imcclure{at}nhs.net

    Two innovative studies of autism get to the heart of the matter, finds Iain McClure

    Autism has become a major phenomenon of our time. These two books, in their different ways, explore why this curious condition seems to be becoming commoner, why popular Western culture is almost obsessed with it, and why it is still a shameful diagnosis in many countries and cultures. Furthermore, by considering autism both books address the fundamental question of what it means to be human. A common springboard for the books is that each author is the father of a child with autism. Each has searched for a meaning within his child’s condition, so generating two very different but similarly innovative and moving accounts.

    Roy Richard Grinker is a professor of anthropology who happens to be the son and grandson of eminent American psychiatrists. This background has contributed to his highly readable yet authoritative survey of how autism has become the hot topic that it has, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom. His book is also one of the …

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