What is it about?

The idea that disturbances in the skin have an effect on the onset of autism have been developed in the past. This paper suggest to look at the skin as a component of the Freudian drive. In this sense, disturbances in the function of the skin are understood on the level of drive functioning and, particularly, as problems in the initiation of separateness on the level of the drive. This particular form of disturbance is association with the onset of autism.

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Why is it important?

While some scholars have discussed the skin function in terms of ego formation, this paper considers describing the skin as a component of the Freudian drive. This new perspective opens better avenues for the understanding and development of the clinic of autism.


This publication goes beyond the work of Anzieu, Bick, Ogden, and Tustin in terms of the skin in autism when it considers the skin to be a modality of the drive. The new notion of the dermic drive is fertile ground for further clinical and theoretical developments.

Leon Brenner
International Psychoanalytic University

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This page is a summary of: Autistic disturbances in skin containment: The dermic drive as a psychoanalytic concept in the study of autism., Psychoanalytic Psychology, February 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/pap0000400.
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