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Refrigerator Mothers

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Encore Broadcast Date: July 27, 2004

PBS Premiere: July 16, 2002


A mid-century medical nightmare is revealed in David E. Simpson, J.J. Hanley and Gordon Quinn’s Refrigerator Mothers. Autism is one of today's fastest growing disorders, affecting 1 in 500 people. It is now known to be a neurological condition, but from the 1950’s through the 1970’s the medical establishment mistakenly believed it had found the root cause of the disorder: poor mothering. Doctors presumed that the often obsessive behaviors of autistic children — rigid rituals, speech difficulty, self-isolation — stemmed from their mothers' emotional frigidity. Refrigerator Mothers explores the traumatic legacy of blame, guilt and self-doubt suffered by a generation of women who were branded "refrigerator mothers."

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TAGS: autism, children, children health, growing up, health, mother, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, parents, youth

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Film Information

Refrigerator Mothers (60 min.)

Premiere Date: July 16, 2002

Encore Broadcast Date: July 27, 2004

Trailer: Link | Embed

Filmmakers: David E. Simpson, J.J. Hanley, Gordon Quinn Bio | Interview | Statement


David E. Simpson
David E. Simpson
J.J. Hanley
J.J. Hanley
Gordon Quinn
Gordon Quinn

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