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Dibs: In Search of Self

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  7,370 ratings  ·  254 reviews
A child therapy classic. Dibs will not talk. He will not play. He has locked himself in a very special prison--and he is alone. This is the true story of how he learned to reach out for the sunshine, for life--how he came to the breathless discovery of himself that brought him back to the world of other children.

Dibs in Search of Self is a true story by psychologist &
Mass Market Paperback, 220 pages
Published 1971 by Ballantine Books (NY) (first published 1964)
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this book seems to cause strong reactions, so let me first say what i think it is not:

* it is not a book that predicts how a generic child will improve when treated the way virginia axline treats dibs (how does she treat dibs? she mostly describes dibs’ behavior, not hers).

* it is not a book about diagnostics (dibs is given exactly zero labels).

* it is not a book about technique; it is not a manual even in the broadest sense of the word.

* finally, it is not a book about etiology or the genesis
I read this for a psychology class and am interested in the commentary, as I know close to nothing about child psych. The book is an easy read and can be completed in a couple hours. It is totally devoid of commentary or technique or explanation as to why Dibs' personality radically shifts and changes in 6 months (it was later explained that this probably took place over years, which just served to confuse me-- why pretend that it took six months?). It is also devoid of any explanation of how th ...more
One of the earliest case studies of autism. However, it's very dated and, at this point, I think it may do more harm than good. Axline subscribed to the then-prevalent theory that autism was caused by emotionally distant parents, something that has proven to be false. This is useful in the sense that it shows the development of the field of child psychology, but no parent of an autistic child, or person trying to understand the causes of autism, would benefit from it.
Jane Matthews
I have read this over and over and I will definitely read it again. It's a true story written by a therapist about a little boy who turns out to be autistic but this was when autism was a little known condition. I can't really say much more about it because I'll end up sounding American and all that jazz!! Just read it!
Este es un gran libro para cualquier persona que trabaja o que esta relacionada con niños con trastorno del desarrollo, ya sean terapistas, maestras, médicos o padres de familia.

A pesar de que el libro carece de un buen enfóque o análisis psiquiátrico, al inicio DIBS parece presentar lo que son características del espectro autista, mas específicamente Asperger. Características como el aislamiento social, la falta de comunicación con otras personas, referirse a si mismo como segunda persona, fal
this book was recommended to me by a dear friend, and i have fallen in love.

It is a story with little hope, but within in the pages is found, a life and a sense of self. It was wonderful to watch this scared little boy grow up and fight his enemies. The pages flew by filled with discovery. In each moment I found myself wanting to find this child and hug them and make everything better.

my favorite: As I said I wanted it. As you said you wanted it. As we said we wanted it.

and a two other favorite
Axline, the author said that, he was that boy that she ever met in the classroom who could teach her what it means to be a complete person.

My first impression when I looked at this book was it's a story about a boy who who has a mental problem. But when I read the prologue, then I changed my opinion tremendiously.

Dibs is about the experience of a little boy that has been justified as mentally retarded by his parents. However, his school teachers think different. In reality he was a brilliant, l
The little boy in this book, Dibs, clearly was autistic, although they kept saying he was retarded. They didn't know in the 60's what they know now about autism.

I found the boy endearing. I admit I'm biased. Dibs reminded me of my autistic son who has demonstrated several similar or identical behaviors.

Reading this wasn't all wonderful. Dibs was emotionally abused by his parents. I pity them. They didn't know what they were dealing with and were beyond overwhelmed. Despite their wealth and sno
This is the book that inspired my career choice, and later influenced my specialization as a play therapist/social worker, along with "Play Therapy" by Garry Landreth.

This is a beautiful story of a child who needed unconditional positive regard and a non-judgmental environment where he was allowed to call the shots in order to heal.

Read this, and you'll know exactly what it's like to be one of my child clients in a play therapy session.
Rachael Quinn
A number of months ago, a friend of mine handed me this book and told me to read it. She said it was a quick read and really good, especially if you like happy endings.

Child psychology has never been a subject that I was likely to pursue. I work with children on a daily basis and I've often thought it would be beneficial to put some studying in but for the most part my readings in psychology center on self help. I was a little doubtful. The first two chapters were slow but after that it really t
Neeraja S
Every child is born different. But some are more different than others, that understanding them requires a special skill-set comprising of patience, insight, faith, the ability to look at the world through the child's eyes, the courage to look into ourselves as seen by the child, and above all, an unending well of unconditional love and empathy. Perhaps one needs to get in touch with one's self, before even trying to comprehend how the other person is reacting to us, and what it really means. A ...more
Ok, so what can I say about this book? Virginia Axline is another play therapy pioneer who adopted the non-directive methods of play and guided herself from the phenomenological personality theories of Carl Rogers.
When you first read this book, you get this sense that as a therapist or one at heart, your work would really be valid and that it would really make a difference. Sometimes a very romantic angle to view things, but reading it a second time would actually make you look at things in diff
This book sat on the bookshelf at home when I was a kid and I read it a few times. Lord knows where it came from as nobody in my family was especially interested in psychology that I'm aware of. It's about a form of play therapy meant to assist emotionally troubled children. The kid she describes (and gives the very weird alias "Dibs") is the child of affluent but apparently clueless and emotionally distant parents. The therapy seems to have a fairly dramatic effect on him in a short period of t ...more
Erik Graff
Dec 01, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: child psychologists, persons w/"autistic" children
Recommended to Erik by: Dr. Bell
Shelves: psychology
Being a psychology major at Union Theological Seminary in New York I had to take development courses. This book was read for the general course entitled "Human Growth and Development". It was taught by a physician-psychiatrist, Dr. Bell, employing the standard textbook on the subject commonly used, he claimed, in medical schools as well as a number of supplementary books and articles of which Dibs in Search of Self was one.

Axline's book is basically a therapeutic narrative and, so, read very qui
Doug Cannon
I first read this when I was pretty young (recommended by my mother), and a few times since then. Dibs is so much like myself, that I find the book very intriguing. It is almost like I know what he is thinking, because I would be thinking that same thing myself.

I was not nearly as introverted as Dibs, and I was not nearly as socially backwards, but in some ways, I almost was.

I love the story of how a loving and caring teacher (or therapist, or whatever she was) was able to reach inside of Dibs a
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In the year 2015 the words autism, expressive/receptive language disorder, and ADHD are not uncommon diagnoses. They are often found on the mouths of worried mothers that are waiting for their next appointment. Although parents are working closely with both psychiatrists and educators to better understand their children, there is still a need for support. Today the special needs community is not defined by labels or those that are concerned to be deemed ‘severe low IQ’. It consists of a mix of c ...more
I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. It was recommended to me by my clinical supervisor, and although the story is compelling, I don't think I learned much from it that I was not already aware of as a clinician.

If you're looking to read to get some insight into the beginnings of play therapy, this is not the book. There are no techniques. There are no clear interventions. It's a narrative, in its most literal sense, but in my opinion, in no way clinical.

Dibs, goes from an SED child
This book was an additional reading in my course, as its about both play therapy and Rogerian counseling. I was having doubts with regards to the helpfulness of my profession as a therapist, but this book definitely did re-instill my faith.
The book is a beautiful journey of the complicated emotional unfolding of a child. The book portrays very well what a safe and trustworthy environment can do for the unraveling of a person, be it an adult or a child.
It delicately explores the many meanings h
ya'll, if you are going to come up with a fake name to protect this kid's identity, can you come up with something better than "Dibs"? like, what are you smoking?

sometimes Dibs want to throw paint on the floor and so he does that. sometimes Dibs wants to spray water everywhere and he definitely does that, on like ten different pages. often Dibs wants to kill his mom and dad but he doesn't do that because that is not what people do in uplifting psychological narratives.
I learned about one form of play therapy through responsive questioning. I appreciated that the therapist gave Dibs the room to discover himself and grow to understand and accept his surroundings and environment rather than pushing him towards a particular conclusion.

His mothers transformation was also fascinating. I'm not sure how much the reader doesn't know about the extent of the therapy, but it seems like Dibs' mom found herself at the same time.
Jan 25, 2014 Spa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: favorites
This is a book that I would recommend to everyone. Although it is technically a psychology book, it does not use psychology jargon. It simply relates the tale of Dibs finding himself. The book is a nonfiction, but it reads like a novel.

I started reading this book when I had an hour free, and a friend of mine had this book with her. I picked it up although I am not a fan of nonfiction or psychology books. When I began reading it,I was hooked. I took it out from the library soon afterward, and f
cant help but think this is all made up by the author. i havent researched on it but it seems fishy. what 5 yr old speaks that way... even in the 60's and everything falls perfectly into place for psychology.
An accessible and beautifully written narrative of a troubled childs journey from darkness through light, via the medium of therapeutic play.

Written by the founder of Play Therapy, an inspiration to anyone who works with children in moving away from prescribed practices embedded in therapist-as-expert power imbalances whilst advocating for the freedom for a child to guide their own learning and processing at their own pace.

It's become a timeless staple in any creative therapists bookshelf and
Emily Murphy
All of these ratings are on a scale of 1-10:

Quality of Writing: 4
Obviously, since most of this book is quotes of a child, it's somewhat immature in writing quality. The rest of the novel basically repeats what he said or described what he did; nothing remarkable there.

Pace: 7
A page-turner, even if he is in therapy for a very, very large portion of the book.

Plot Development: 7
Easily followable and focused. Somewhat too focused; I would have liked more on Dibs's school and home life, though I unde
In the book Dibs, Virginia M. Axline is telling a personal account of her psychological studies. She is called in to observe the boy named Dibs that is having difficult fitting in to the normal classroom. The hardships of being a child and the want to be accepted by everyone is shown through this little boy. Axline does a tremendous job of showing as much of both sides (child and social worker) of the story as possible.

The book starts with Axline explaining how she came to be Dibs' social worke
Maria Casey
Seeing as I just finished a social care degree, this book was of much relevance and interest to me. I found Dibs absolutely fascinating, and I found the insight into the workings of play therapy even more interesting.

Virginia Axline was fantastic, allowing Dibs to play in whatever way he wished and be his creative self while in the playroom for that one hour a week that he so looked forward to. It's amazing how one hour a week allowed him to come out of himself and flourish in his wider communit
I was given this book as a suggested dad by one of my fellow classmates as a potential help in guiding child therapy. Holy cow, did this book serve its purpose! I have not been able to formally take a child therapy class yet, and my current work with children in this manner was significantly helped by reading this book in collusion with my work with children. I was able to see the technique Axline describes in establishing a core sense of self and purposefulness in the child, with the mimicking ...more
I loved this book. I think it speaks to our human nature. We all need love. We need acceptance. We crave understanding; of both the world around us and for other people to understand who we are.

Too often I feel we assume children just "don't understand" the feelings and emotions of those around them. However, it is amazing to me to see how much they really do pick up on. Dibs, in his short six years of life, had been scarred by his experiences and emotions. It made me want to reach out more to
Oct 19, 2008 Astraea rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in older modes of thought on psychotherapy
Recommended to Astraea by: found it in a family friend's library
Shelves: children, reviewed
This is a work of fiction which is probably based on Axline's work with an emotionally neglected child. Most of the people I discussed the book with at university believed that Dibs was the son of B.F. Skinner. In any case, his identity has been carefully covered up, and no followup "where is he now" has ever been done.

If this book is to be believed, Dibs was not neurologically autistic in the modern sense of the word, but in the older sense of psychogenic withdrawal due in part to "refrigerator
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“Perhaps there is more understanding and beauty in life when the glaring sunlight is softened by the patterns of shadows. Perhaps there is more depth in a relationship that has weathered some storms. Experience that never disappoints or saddens or stirs up feeling is a bland experience with little challenge or variation of color. Perhaps it's when we experience confidence and faith and hope that we see materialize before our eyes this builds up within us a feeling of inner strength, courage, and security. We are all personalities that grow and develop as a result of our experiences, relationships, thoughts, and emotions. We are the sum total of all the parts that go into the making of a life.” 32 likes
“Sometimes it is very difficult to keep in mind the fact that the parents, too, have reasons for what they do-- have reasons, locked in the depths of their personalities, for their inability to love, to understand, to give of themselves to their children.” 2 likes
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