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‘Psychobabble’ has been discredited for decades

The article by Tony Humphreys claiming that autism is caused by “cold” or emotionally distant parents, displays such willful ignorance, lack of understanding and density of inaccurate and offensive statements that it is shocking that the Irish Examiner would publish it.

This kind of psycho-babble has been discredited for decades.

Autism is a biological, brain-based disorder. It is also a genetic disorder. The scientific evidence for these statements is overwhelming. We now know of more than 100 distinct genetic conditions that can result in autistic symptoms.

These conditions affect early development of the brain and researchers are making progress in understanding how that results in the specific symptoms seen in autism, which may range widely in severity.

In contrast, the claims by Mr Humphreys are a throwback to psycho-analytic theories that are completely unsupported by any evidence, as well as being actively damaging and hurtful.

In publishing this waffle, your paper does a disservice to responsible journalism and to all the patients, parents and teachers struggling to cope with the real disabilities caused by this condition.

Kevin Mitchell PhD

Associate professor of genetics and neuroscience,

Trinity College Dublin


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