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


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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: 10.6 x 1.5 x 17.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 68 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #70,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By "tlc226" on 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 By A Customer on Oct. 1 1999
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 By kate byerwalter on 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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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 wise- words of a five-year-old child whose
real name I do not know but who was called Dibs, the subject of an
unpretentious little book published in 1964 by child-therapist
Virginia M. Axline, "Dibs: In Search of Self".

Dibs, the unwanted son of highly intellectual parents -his father was
a renowned scientist, his mother a gifted surgeon- could only
communicate through rageful tantrums, bites, kicks, shouts or
scratches. Most of the time he was simply a mute, withdrawn child
whose teachers had almost lost all hope of getting through to him. His
parents, who showered on him "the best toys money could buy" variously
described him as "defective", "mentally retarded" or possibly
"autistic", tags that most doctors were only too eager to accept
themselves. At home, when civilities could be easily dispensed with,
Dibs' father just addressed him as "stupid".

In a final, desperate attempt to help him before he was dispatched to
some "mental institution", Dibs' teachers asked the assistance of Dr
Axline, a play-therapist with a non-directive (Rogerian) orientation.

After obtaining Dibs' parents reluctant permission to "study him" -and
granting them a strict confidentiality clause- Dr Axline started
weekly one-hour play-therapy sessions with him.

Nothing was structured.
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