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The Who Mailing List Digest V4 #67

Okay Ledbetter (the #1 contributor to this cool list), you asked for it 
so you will get it. By the way I brought up this Tommy thing in my 
psychopathology class, thereby introducing several people to The WHO.
< Oh, and Mark E. Klyn, that was a very good and concise summary of how 
< Freud's beliefs would relate to our Pete and his auto-destruction.  
< <applause>  And now, for your next assignment, compare and contrast 
< the symptoms displayed by Tommy and real children with autism.  (Just 
< kidding of course, although I actually did once have a lengthy 
< discussion with a friend of mine on that very subject.)

     Tommy in fact does not have Autism. Autism is an organic 
condition, meaning it has a biological etiology (cause). Rather, 
Tommy's affliction is based upon the anxiety he experienced when he 
saw his mother's lover kill his father (Captain Walker), which by the 
way has Oedipul overtones. The official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders IV 
(DSM-IV) would indicate that Tommy is an individual with a Conversion Disorder 

     Okay, now let me explain the Conversion Disorder. Basically it 
is a holdover from Freud's original work. It is one of the classic 
Hysteria disorders. In Conversion Disorder, an individual has a good 
deal of anxiety. Rather than expressing this anxiety as "normal" 
people do, individuals w/ Conversion Disorder, convert their anxiety 
into physical symptoms. These symptoms often involve paralysis, 
numbness, and loss of sensation (deaf, dumb, and blind). Under the 
Umbrella of Conversion Disorder in the DSM-IV are four specifiers, or 
types. These are 1) with Motor symptoms or deficits, 2) with Sensory 
symptoms or deficits, 3) with Seizures or Convulsions, and 4) with 
Mixed presentation (TOMMY). 

So now we have the disorder, but we might ask, Why is he able to play 
pinball if he has these motor and sensory deficits? 

Answer: When Tommy plays pinball, his overall level of anxiety is 
reduced (like me), therefore he is able to at least to a degree, reduce his 
motor and sensory deficits.

His cure comes about of cours when he smashes the mirror. This is a 
more symbolic way of Tommy dealing with the anxiety, realizing that 
his father's death was not his responsibility, thereby reducing his 
anxiety. Freud might say that his Oedipul conflict, and the resulting 
anxiety, were resolved when he smashed the mirror, and lost the guilt 
(anxiety) feelings about being in competition with his father for his 

Well, enough said by me, Ledbetter, you asked for it. :)

Mark E. Klyn 

On the other hand,
"sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" - S. Freud