Forever appalling: "Asperger's Children: 1 of 2: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna" by Edith Sheffer.

Jul 15, 2018, 02:41 AM


(Photo:A white-coated man in his thirties sits at a table across from a boy. He looks intently at the boy through his rimless glasses. His hair is cropped fairly short on the sides and is wavy on top. The boy, seated in the foreground with his back toward the viewer, sits straight up, with one arm resting on the arm of a wooden chair.

Figure 1.1 (page 8) of: Frith U (1991). "Asperger and his syndrome". In Frith U. Autism and Asperger syndrome. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–36. ISBN 0-521-38608-X. The source's caption says the photograph is "From the collection of Dr Maria Asperger-Felder". The book is copyright 1991 by Cambridge University Press.

Hans Asperger (1906–1980) at work in the University Pediatric Clinic, Vienna (now part of the Vienna General Hospital), performing a psychological test of a child. The photograph was taken c. 1940, around the time of Asperger's discovery of autism. )

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Forever appalling: "Asperger's Children: 1 of 2: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna" by Edith Sheffer.

“[Edith Sheffer] shows how the Third Reich’s obsession with categories and labels was inextricable from its murderousness; what at first seems to be a book about Dr. Hans Asperger and the children he treated ends up tracing the sprawling documentary record of a monstrous machine. . . . Sheffer has built an impressive case.”

  • Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

“Asperger’s Children should be read by any student of psychology, psychiatry or medicine, so that we learn from history and do not repeat its terrifying mistakes. The revelations in this book are a chilling reminder that the highest priority in both clinical research and practice must be compassion.”

  • Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University, Nature

“A superbly researched account. . . . It’s hard to believe that anyone will want to identify with Asperger syndrome after reading Sheffer’s extremely disturbing but very lucid book.”

  • Saskia Baron, Guardian

“An impassioned indictment, one that glows with the heat of a prosecution motivated by an ethical imperative. [...] Sheffer dramatically incorporates the voices of the few children who survived the sadistic terrors of the psychiatric regime.”

  • Lisa Appignanesi, New York Review of Books

“[Sheffer] writes with extraordinary sensitivity and an understated grace. A historian of Germany and modern Europe, Sheffer’s research is meticulous and wide-ranging.”

  • Kate Tuttle, Los Angeles Times

“An absolutely terrifying and fascinating book.”

  • Steve Almond, NPR

“As Sheffer suggests at the end of her searing, wonderfully written book, the least that can be done to honour the memory of those children killed in his name is to excise it from popular use.”

  • Dominic Lawson, The Sunday Times

“This superbly researched book is an important contribution to our understanding of attitudes to autism, and to our knowledge of one of the very darkest episodes in recent human history.”

  • Telegraph

“This book is sensational, although its author does not seek sensation. It is a careful work of history, connecting the career of a physician with the intellectual, medical, and political contexts of Austria in the 1930s and 1940s. That world is not our world, but the connections, the habits of mind, speech, diagnosis, are more powerful than we think. In restoring history to psychology, Sheffer helps us to understand why we classify our children the way we do, and helps us to ask, as we must, just what kind of world we are making for them.”

  • Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny and Bloodlands

“Meticulously documented, and chilling in its detail, Asperger’s Children reveals the consequences of the most extreme abuses of clinical power and autho...