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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
Price For Both: CDN$ 111.83


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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
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wait a second... April 29 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
are you people honestly saying that by reading a condensed version of therapy sessions you can diagnose a child with 100% accuracy? admit for just one second that this intelligent woman is capable of seeing things that you might not see. i'm not claiming to be an expert, because i'm only a college psych student with little experience with autism, asperger's, or even emotional disturbance, but are you saying that the way a parent treats a child cannot have severe effects on their self-image and expression? childhood trauma is real, and you don't know what really happened in this child's home. there is a possibility virginia axline may have been wrong, but let's admit for a second that we don't know everything. if you read this book as a depiction of the struggle any of us can go through as we learn, grow, and become comfortable with our own selves, it is an amazing read. there is very little commentary on the symbolism of dibs' play, leaving so much room to learn about ourselves! i loved reading this book. luckily, there are still enough people in this world who see the beauty of this book to keep it in print.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Seminal Text Oct. 1 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First, I must take issue with two of the other reviews: Axline makes clear that Dibs is NOT an autistic or otherwise abnormal child and thus the idea that she blames his "autism" on his parents is a non-starter. Rather, Axline makes clear that Dibs is, in fact, a normal child whose past experiences have crushed his ability to trust and to reach out to others. Counterintuitively, she does not cure him by providing him with the love and acceptance that his parents have clearly withheld (they make a practice of locking him in his room), but by allowing him to work through his experiences in play therapy, and she never takes his parents to task for their actions but allows the family to evolve as well. The process of play therapy is illustrated and explained through her meticulous observations and it is fascinating to see Dibs tell his autobiography to his therapist through his play and come to his own resolutions with her help and guidance. An essential work for those interested in personality development and a heroic biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dibs in search of self Feb. 7 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This review is in reply to the reviewer who suggested that Dibs problem was that he was autistic, not emotionally troubled. As a psychologist familiar with both autism and emotional impairment, my opinion is that Dibs clearly suffered from an attack on his selfhood--his spirit. I do agree that to blame parents for a neurological disorder such as autism is wrong! However, isn't it possible that the symptoms Dibs displayed were from emotional impairment, not autism? (neuroscience suggests that lack of contact/affection CAN impair the brain in areas related to emotional regulation, for example). Also, how do you explain the incredible disparity between Dibs behavior with Miss A (where he felt safe) and his father (where he didn't)? This book is a remarkable testimony to the human spirit.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Summary and Review Jan. 3 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Dibs in Search of Self" is the story of a little boy named Dibs and his struggle to open himself up to the world. Dibs has no mental deficiencies, but hardly ever speaks. When Dibs does speak, he speaks very little and speaks of himself in the third or second person. He also doesn’t get along with the other children, biting or scratching those who go near him. He begins to go to play therapy sessions with Miss A. At first, he is afraid but she tells him not to be. During the play sessions, Miss A. sees significant changes in Dibs. He quite often plays with a doll-house family pretending it is his own. Dibs’ father and mother also see changes in him. He begins talking more and more to his parents and responding when they ask him questions. At his school they notice that Dibs plays more with the other children and wants to be included in activities. I enjoyed reading this story immensely and read it every single day. It was a very well written and interesting book to read. I recommend this book to anyone interested in going into child therapy. What surprised me was that it took such little effort to bring out of his shell. He only went to therapy once a week and after three sessions there was already an improvement. This was a little hard to believe for me.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Dibs in Search of self
Really beautifull story of the treatment of a little boy with the "humanistic" vision in psychology, play therapy. Love it.
Published 10 months ago by Karine Gagnon
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
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Theraputic Relationship
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... Read more
Published on Aug. 25 2003 by Cuvtixo
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 Amazon Customer
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 27 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars Axline AND Dibs' mother are both victims...
...of an inaccurate perspective. In terms of writing quality and emotional "pull," this book deserves 5 stars. Read more
Published on May 18 2003 by Susan Shedd
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
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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