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Dibs in Search of Self [Mass Market Paperback]

Virginia M. Axline
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 10.99
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Book Description

June 12 1986
The classic of child therapy. Dibs will not talk. He will not play. He has locked himself in a very special prison. And he is alone. This is the true story of how he learned to reach out for the sunshine, for life . . . how he came to the breathless discovery of himself that brought him back to the world of other children.

Frequently Bought Together

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
Price For All Three: CDN$ 123.43

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Product Description

From the Publisher

As a former teacher-turned-editor, who read DIBS many times before even coming to work here at Ballantine, I feel very connected to this book.  The author is a leading authority on play therapy and the treatment of emotionally disturbed children.  Dibs is one of these lost children.  The story takes us through his long journey from being labeled as "mentally defective," to emerging as a gifted and lovable young man.  Whether you're a teacher, a parent, a psychologist, or just someone who loves to actually feel what they're reading, DIBS is for you.

--Laura Paczosa, Editorial Assistant

About the Author

Virginia Axline (1911-1988) was a pioneer of play therapy for children. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Dibs in Search of self Oct. 11 2013
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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5.0 out of 5 stars The Boy Who Would Not Play 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Theraputic Relationship Aug. 25 2003
By Cuvtixo
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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5.0 out of 5 stars The path to success was the most intersting part June 30 2001
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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5.0 out of 5 stars AN OUTSTANDING BOOK! TRULY EXCEPTIONAL! July 24 2000
By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 500 REVIEWER
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
2.0 out of 5 stars Axline AND Dibs' mother are both victims... 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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What really heals...
The best definition I know of therapy I didn't find in any scholarly
treatise or in the works of Freud, Lacan, Buber or Carl Rogers, but in
the very simple -and very... Read more
Published on Dec 22 2011 by Un lector
4.0 out of 5 stars Summary and Review
"Dibs in Search of Self" is the story of a little boy named Dibs and his struggle to open himself up to the world. Read more
Published on Jan. 3 2004 by "lilguy8656"
1.0 out of 5 stars "Miracle Cure"
Sorry, but this book just doesn't ring true. A child this severely impaired (read the first two chapters) is not going to be cured in a few months of once-a-week play therapy... Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2003 by bethany
1.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful fiction. Move on, people...
There was a time Freud was considered an genius; we now know that his theories were grossly inaccurate. Read more
Published on July 10 2003 by Scott Riley
5.0 out of 5 stars good book
This was a really insightful book. I agree that Dibs probably did have an autism spectrum disorder. Read more
Published on July 8 2003 by J. Kerrigan
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK!!!!!!!
Dibs in Search of Self by Virgina M. Axline is fantastic book about the therapy of a young boy named Dibs. Dibs won't talk or play with the kids in his kindergarden class. Read more
Published on June 28 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Are we honestly saying . . .?
That is exactly what I'm saying. You are a psych student -- look at the DSM-IV criteria for autistic disorder. Read more
Published on May 6 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars wait a second...
are you people honestly saying that by reading a condensed version of therapy sessions you can diagnose a child with 100% accuracy? Read more
Published on April 29 2003 by "tlc226"
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, captivating, misleading and outdated.
This is indeed a beautiful and fascinating read. I totally agree with the "A reader from Rhode Island" however. Read more
Published on March 13 2003
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