The metamorphosis of autism

A history of child development in Britain

By Bonnie Evans

The metamorphosis of autism
Hardcover -
  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9780719095924
  • Publish Date: Feb 2017
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    This book is available as an open access ebook under a CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

    What is autism and where has it come from? Increased diagnostic rates, the rise of the 'neurodiversity' movement, and growing autism journalism, have recently fuelled autism's fame and controversy. The metamorphosis of autism is the first book to explain our current fascination with autism by linking it to a longer history of childhood development. Drawing from a staggering array of primary sources, Bonnie Evans traces autism back to its origins in the early twentieth century and explains why the idea of autism has always been controversial and why it experienced a 'metamorphosis' in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Evans takes the reader on a journey of discovery from the ill-managed wards of 'mental deficiency' hospitals, to high-powered debates in the houses of parliament, and beyond. The book will appeal to a wide market of scholars and others interested in autism.


    'Undoubtedly, this book will serve as a central text for those interested in the history of children, medicine, and psychology in twentieth century Britain. To all its readers, The Metamorphosis of Autism offers a masterclass in the creation of a cogent and stimulating historical analysis.'
    David Kilgannon, MedHum Daily Dose July 2017

    'This is a worthwhile resource for anyone looking at the evolution of the syndrome of autism spectrum disorder from the original use of the term autism within psychiatry.'
    Peter Carpenter, May 2017, British Society for the History of Medicine

    'Bonnie Evans's great history of autism in UK sets the bar high!
    Professor Jonathyne Briggs, History Department, Indiana University Northwest

    'Read Bonnie Evans's excellent recent book'
    Dr Carsten Timmerman, Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Manchester University, and Chair of the Executive Committee of the Society for the Social History of Medicine

    'Great to see launch of Bonnie Evans's fabulous new book'
    Professor Stuart Murray, Director of the Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities, Leeds University

    'It offers a complex but commendable and important account of historical development, which can also be used as a comprehensive reference work with a detailed keyword index.'
    Raphael Zahnd, H-Net Reviews, January 2018

    'an excellent history of autism in Britain, and a volume which historians of childhood, child welfare, social policy, and the social sciences would be foolish to ignore.'
    Prof. John Stewart, The Journal for the History of Childhood and Youth

    'A dense and challenging read'
    David Wright, McGill University, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 93, No. 1 (Spring 2019)


    Introduction: Perceiving, describing and modelling child development
    Part I: The first autism: The observation and description of child development before 1959
    1: The first autism
    2: The first autism controversies
    3: Inside the Maudsley Child Psychotic Clinic in the 1950s
    Part II: How autism became autism
    4: The transformation of social life and the transformation of autism in the 1960s
    5: How do you measure a social impairment?
    6: Epidemiology, epidemics and autism as a global health crisis


    Bonnie Evans is Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at Queen Mary, University of London

    The metamorphosis of autism

    By Bonnie Evans

    Hardcover £25.00 / $36.95

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