OBITUARY: Frances Tustin

Frances Daisy Vickers, child psychotherapist: born Darlington 15 October 1913; married 1948 Arnold Tustin (died 1994); died Chesham, Buckinghamshire 11 November 1994.

rances Tustin was one of the first professionally trained child psychotherapists in Britain, and in her 25 years of clinical practice she came to be internationally recognised for her work with autistic children.

She had a natural affinity for children and her understanding of autistic children was highly intuitive. Within child psychiatry, her published views, though widely acclaimed, remain controversial since she challenged the belief that autism was biological or genetic, believing it to have combined psychological and biological origins. Her style was imaginative and individual but she relied more on creating ``resonances'' in her readers than on hard scientific evidence.

In her first book, Autism and Childhood Psychosis (1972), she described autism as a pathological barrier, created by fixation at a pre-thinking stage of infant development. She believed it was an arrest rather than a regression, and that the blockage to psychological development was the result of a traumatic experience of bodily separateness from the mother.

She was born Frances Vickers in Darlington, an only child, in 1913. Her father was a country schoolmaster. She trained as a primary schoolteacher in London and began her career working, like her father, with five- to eleven-year old school children. In 1

948 she married Arnold Tustin, later Professor of Heavy Electrical Engineering at Imperial College, London, who died in January of this year.

Frances Tustin qualified at the Tavistock Clinic, in London, in 1953 after completing the course of training in child psychotherapy newly instituted there by John Bowlby. Her interest in autism began when she spent a year at the James Jackson Putnam Center in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1954. She worked there both as a therapist and as a general assistant in managing autistic children. She participated in the centre's respite schemes living in the homes of these enormously disturbed children and looking after them while their parents had a break.

On returning to Britain the next year she established a close working relationship with Mildred Creak, a child psychiatrist of some eminence at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London, and in time she also developed a private practice in which she specialised in treating the most disturbed children. From 1971 to 1973 she was principal child psychotherapist at the Tavistock Child Guidance Centre.

Frances Tustin continued to develop her ideas in two further books, Autistic States in Children (1981) and Autistic Barriers in Neurotic Patients (1986), in which she applied her ideas to some neurotic states in adults.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits