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Clarity is a Virtue

The Neuroskeptic blog has a great post about the controversy surrounding the practice of "Le Packing" that is used with autistic children.  Not only is this practice complete bunk, but it is child abuse.  Alas, there is a great movement afoot to resurrect psychoanalytic thought by wedding it to neuroscience.  Not all psychoanalytic thought is worthless, but a whole lot of it is.  One way to tell whether someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes is the use of jargon.  Social scientists love to use jargon when they're hiding the fact that they don't really have anything useful to say after all.

Case in point:

During the first months of life, an infant will actively practice his or her archaic reflexes. Of these, the grasping, which will progressively disappear as voluntary prehension emerges around the age of 4-5 months, is of great interest. The facilitation and/or anaclitic relationships between this reflex and adhesive identification are even more interesting to study together because, for instance, in an autistic child, the first model will integrate under the form of pathological adhesive identification.
In such an example, a strategy for thinking about these two phenomena and making them compatible is using a third term (e.g., Peircean logic, in which adhesive identification is an icon of grasping). If we refer to this important principle from this great American semiotician, the icon is part of the logical representation scheme from the most elementary, the icon, to the most evolved, the symbol, passing by the intermediate, the index...


Yes, let us all resolve to pay more heed to the great semioticians.

BTW, I followed the link to find out what the heck "Le Packing" is:

This alleged therapy consists of wrapping the patient (wearing only underclothes or naked in the case of young children) several times a week during weeks or months in towels soaked in cold water (10°C to 15°C). The individual is wrapped with blankets to help the body warm up in a process lasting 45 minutes, during which time the child or adolescent is accompanied by two to four staff...

Sounds like child abuse to me.

"an infant will actively practice his or her archaic reflexes."

This smacks of Haeckel's specious "Recapitulation" theory. This is a mythical, discredited, and fraudulent theory which involved false evidence and distorted scientific diagrams.

Much of biological macro-evolution is likewise wrought with fraud and error.


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