In press, Biological Theory Vol. 5(4), M.I.T. Press.
Maxson J. McDowell PhD, LMSW, LP is a Jungian Analyst in private practice in New York City. He is past president of the C.G. Jung Foundation in New York. Formerly he was a molecular biologist at Duke University, M.I.T., and the MRC Laboratory in Cambridge, England.
Estimates of autism’s incidence increased 5-10 fold in ten years, an increase which cannot be genetic. Though many mutations are associated with autism, no mutation seems directly to cause autism. We need to find the direct cause. Complexity science provides a new paradigm - confirmed in biology by extensive hard data. Both the body and the personality are complex dynamic systems which spontaneously self-organize from simple dynamic systems. Autism may therefore be caused by the failure of a simple dynamic system.
We know that infants who cannot track their mother’s face often become autistic, that eye-contact initiates intersubjectivity which is blocked in autism, and that the infant-mother pair seems designed to promote eye-contact, as does the eye’s appearance. This author earlier proposed that failure of eye-contact might directly cause autism and that early non-maternal childcare, including television/video, would therefore be statistically linked to autism.