There’s a scene in Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy where a soldier rendered mute by shellshock is treated by being given electric shocks to the tongue; he reluctantly regains the power of speech. The sympathetic Dr Rivers observes that this operation looks less like a “cure”, and more like someone having a protective shield violently ripped away from them.

It occurred to me yesterday evening that some forms of autism “treatment” resembled this (Lovaas for one did literally use electric shocks, on children), and that it might be a good way to reflect on the “cure” effected on the autistic protagonist of le Guin’s “Vaster Than Empires and More Slow” by the fictional “Dr Hammergeld”. Additionally, I’ve long used another word from the Regeneration books, “protopathic”, to describe the sharp gradient that exists for me between being able to mute an unwanted stimulus and being overwhelmed by it.

147 Words

2018-09-24 11:15:00