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Dibs - Book Review

Essay by review  •  September 10, 2010  •  Book/Movie Report  •  2,600 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,196 Views

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"Sometimes he sat mute and unmoving all morning or crawled about the schoolroom floor oblivious to the other children or to his teacher." The book Dibs is a testimony of a child who seemed to be mentally retarded because he has created his own world inside of him. In her book, Virginia Axline proves that the therapy by the play is a way of curing people such as Dibs. During her book, she gives lecture to the reader of a recording taken from the sessions with the little child. During this expose, we will develop Dib's relation with adults in particular his teachers, parents and grand mother. Then we will analyze another relation: the one with his therapist. In the second part the phenomena of rejection will be analyzed in both sides: in the mother and the father side but also with Dibs itself. Later, we will try to understand which role play therapy had occurred on Dibs change.

When the books starts, Dibs is in the school since two years. At the beginning he refused to talk. Sometimes he could stay dumb and still during an entire morning. Other times, he could have violent bout of anger when it was time to go back home, which provoked towards teachers and director of the school a big anxiety. Was he mentally retarded? Was he suffering of a mental illness since his birth? Did his brain have received a shock? No one knew, even his parents who always refused to talk about their son's attitude. But as the author, Virginia Axline, said "there was something about Dibs behavior that defied the teachers to categorize him, glibly and routinely, and send him on his way. His behavior was so uneven. At one time, he seemed to be extremely retarded mentally. Another time he would quickly and quietly do something that indicated he might even have superior intelligence" (Axline, Virginia Dibs in search of Self, 15). The staff meeting of class finally decide to help Dibs and to do something for him. It is at this point that the Doctor Virginia Axline, "specialized in working with children and parents" is called.

Dibs relationship with his teachers was non existent. His reaction was the one of an assisted person. When it was going-home time, the child used to stay in the class without a gesture waiting for the teachers to put his coat on while saying "No go home! No go home! No go home!" (Dibs in search of Self, 14). For the child his house was the synonym of a place where he was rejected where he felt he did not have his place.

Concerning the relationship that the child entertain with his parents the best example we have is a passage very significant of this incomprehension between the child and his father. This section occurred while Dibs is in the process of recovery. At the end of a play therapy session, his father went to pick him up. It is the first time that the Doctor Axline is presented to his father. Her is a the passage of this brief interview between the three characters:

- "Papa" glanced at me. "How do you do", he said, stiffly. He seemed very ill at ease.

- " How do you do," I replied

- "I say, Papa," Dibs said. "Do you know today is not Independence Day?"

- "Come Dibs I am in a hurry," "Papa" said

- "Independence Day comes on Thursday,"

- "Papa" was shoving Dibs out the door. "Can't you stop that senseless jabber?" he said, between clenched teeth.

This short passage is the typical example of the humiliated child in front of someone else. Most of the time, when you hear the word "bad treatment", you associate it with violence and physical suffering but less with bad treatment morally speaking. Most of the time a child who had received bad treatment moral is more traumatized than the one who had received violence suffering. In an article written by a professor at the Universita degli stradi of Bologna in the Department of Psychology, it is said that "bad physical treatment and humiliation are closely associated as Freud has previously observed" (ENFANCE, Tome 47, n? 1 p. 21- 26). For the professor Marco W. Battachi, what is clear is that "humiliation causes traumatized effects very destructive for a child." Based on an analysis done by two psychologist Battachi and Codispoti in 1992 there is four principals forms of humiliation. The first one is when someone refuses to give attention to a child who asked for it. A typical case is when the child asks a specific question and does not get any response back. The second form consists of a refusal when the child asks for an approval from his parents. The child feels a disappointment when his efforts are not encouraged. This is Dibs case. Each time he says something to his parents, he is waiting for a response and a good response not disinterestedness. The third form is a lack of respect. This form takes place when the child has a secret that is violated by his parents. The last form of humiliation consists of the refusal of knowing the truth. This last form is sometimes expressed when the child wants to know more about subject such as sexuality. He desires to know "adults secrets" and might be faced to mockery and scorn.

The last person with whom Dibs seem to have "a normal relation" is his grand mother. His grand mother is the only person in the family with whom Dibs seems to have a good relation. The first time Dibs talks about her he said: "I am a boy," he said slowly. "I have a father, a mother, a sister. But I do have a grandmother and she loves me. Grandmother has always loves me. But not Papa. Papa has not always loves me." This difference between his grandmother and his father is very significant with the humiliation. His grandmother always accepts him as he is whereas his parents feel a shame to have a child like Dibs. With his grandmother he has a normal conversation and is not afraid of her because she listens to him and responds to his question. This brings us again to the question of humiliation. With his grandmother, there is no humiliation because they are equal.

The first contact Virginia Axline has with the little boy is just after the rest period. She asks him if he would like to come with her in the playroom, and after a moment of hesitation he takes the doctor's hand. This surprised me a lot because it shows that Dibs is nor shy neither unsociable with people he doesn't know which is very strange. When they enter in the room, she just said : "We'll spend an hour together here in the playroom. You can see the toys and the materials



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