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Dibs in Search of Self Mass Market Paperback – Jun 12 1986


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Dibs in Search of Self + Interventions with Children and Youth in Canada + The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook - What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (June 12 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345339258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345339256
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 10.7 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 68 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
IT WAS LUNCH TIME, going-home time, and the children were milling around in their usual noisy, dawdling way getting into their coats and hats. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wong Ee Lynn on Oct. 2 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What could have caused a 5-year-old child with an IQ of 168 to clam up and stop talking, playing or laughing? Virginia Axline, author of 'Play Therapy' finds out as she records the progress of Dibs in this book that has since become a child therapy classic. A review in Amazon.com held forth that Dibs is autistic, but it is clear to me that he is not. Dibs is a child who deliberately withheld speech and affection as a means of self-defense against his cold, unloving, high- achieving and demanding parents and their battery of tests to prove him gifted. He does not suffer a neurological disorder nor is he autistic.
This remarkably moving and honest book gives credit not to the therapist/author for having worked a miracle, rather, it is the child and his inner strength and resolve that are given praise. The amazingly articulate child acts out his anger through his play of dolls. In a poignant part, Dibs reverses the parent-child role and 'makes' a 'mother' doll build a mountain upon the instruction of the 'boy' doll.
"It is too hard to do," said Dibs. "Nobody can build a mountain. But I'll make her do it. She'll have to build the mountain and do it right. There is a right way and wrong way of doing things and you will do it the right way."
After some thought, he decided he would help the 'mother' and not impose such an onerous task on her. He talks of love and caring for his mother and sister. This shows that Dibs, despite his frustration, fear and anger, has great capacity for compassion, empathy and forgiveness. The therapy sessions with his non-judgmental therapist helped Dibs be aware of his feelings and of matters within and without his control.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Really beautifull story of the treatment of a little boy with the "humanistic" vision in psychology, play therapy. Love it.
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By Cuvtixo on Aug. 25 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book doesn't blame anyone's parents for mental illness. I read this book while getting a psych degree in college and it stood out for the real care and empathy the author feels for her patient. She draws no conclusions about Dibs' parenting- she is disappointed that his parents are not as involved in the care and therapy of Dibs as she might wish. Axline finds expressions of the universal struggles of growing up in Dibs and tries to be of help. She works with Dibs and doesn't just give him a label and dismiss him as unreachable. Any resemblance of Dibs' problems to the modern diagnosis of autism is missing the point of the book entirely.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Reading the jacket and "about the author" section prior to reading the book let me in to the fact that Dibs would be a success story. After all, one would not expect a pioneer in Play Therapy to write about a failure in that particular field (thank you for pointing that out Ms. Ban). The book is entertaining in the same way a mystery novel is entertaining--slowly, as Ms. A gains Dibs' trust, we understand the frustrations of living in a family intent on keeping up appearances. Indeed, one can assume that the more "trouble" Dibs is to the family, the more they try to cover their problem child up, making matters even worse...but I digress. The evolution of Dibs from a totally introverted ball of anger, confusion, and fear into an outgoing, affectionate genius makes it as gripping as a fast paced fiction novel, but it warms the heart as well. What other reviewers point out holds true as well--if people took the time to listen and extend a helping hand, especially to those who are introverted or "trouble cases", this world would be much better.
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By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 24 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had a relative who read this book the winter I was in second grade and gave me a synopsis of it. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued, so I decided to read the book. The following fall, I, then 8, read the book. And read it and read and read it again! It was my first "adult" book and it touched my heart deeply. It was my very best book for the next 5 years. I loved "Dibs" so much that I was, at 8, able to quote whole passages by memory and find myself thinking about Dibs long after I reread a beloved passage yet again. I loved this book so much that I wore out my first copy and had to replace it (at 11). It has a place of honor on my bookshelf today. I truly love this wonderful book and feel it has made a postive difference in the lives of others. A little child shall lead them -- gifted Dibs has led many people into a whole new area of acceptance. It is to the author's credit she does not condemn Dibs with a psychiatric label. Dibs is allowed to move and grow and like a mighty falcon, soar! THIS IS TRULY AN OUTSTANDING BOOK!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Susan Shedd on May 18 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
...of an inaccurate perspective. In terms of writing quality and emotional "pull," this book deserves 5 stars. And, like Freud, it is important to read -- in the correct context. Axline was a pioneer of play therapy (for individuals and groups), and I think there is no doubt that it is a fruitful method for interacting with troubled children. In my practice as a psychologist, I have certainly found play therapy to be extremely productive because a) it is the natural "language" of children, and b) it is also one of the most important ways children learn.
So...yes, I believe Dibs (as presented by Axline -- we do have to rely on her description) closely fits the criteria for Asperger's Syndrome, a syndrome on the autistic spectrum where very bright children capable of complex thinking may be quite impaired in basic social, motor and communication skills. And I do believe her therapy with him was very helpful because she provided a model for social interaction, one-on-one (group situations were probably too overwhelming) that allowed him to increase his positive interactions with others (which, in turn, increased their positive response to him).
I sympathize with reviewers who are outraged at the use of "refrigerator mother" theory in the book -- and with the reviewers who experienced the pain of unloving or abusive parents. No, an unloving or uninvolved parent cannot "cause" autism. However, it is also true that no autistic child was ever helped by a lack of love or being locked away from others.
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