Dibs in Search of Self by Virginia M. Axline Review

dibsDibs in search of Self’ is a book dedicated to the development of a boy who refuses to talk, and acknowledge anybody other than himself. It is based upon a true case and includes real conversations and play sessions that he and ‘Miss A’ go through together as she attempts to remove him from his shell that he has placed around himself.

This book, is a wonderful and fascinating read. Dibs, is a boy that everybody can relate to, to some extend. He is afraid of the unknown and ‘scary’ aspects of the world and retreats into himself and yet you are unable to admit that he is not a gifted child. He is utterly amazing at the age of 5 and has grasped the different concepts and situations that evolve around us in this world to a higher level.

If you are fascinated by the development of children and the way in which nurture affects them, then I highly recommend giving this book a chance.

Here is the summary on the back of the book:

This is a story of a little boy named Dibs.
He will not talk. He will not play. He has locked himself in a very special prison. And he is alone.
This is the story of how he learned to reach out for the sunshine, for life…how he came to the breathless discovery of himself that brough him back to the world of other children.


As this is a book about the research done on a child, there isn’t much for me to go in-depth about in this review other than the things that fascinated me as I went along. Dibs, is such a wonderful child to read about, especially the way in which he talks and sees the world around him. It’s obvious from an early state that even though he attempts to distance himself from people, he has a high understanding of reading, writing, drawing and even his vocabulary is exquisite.

In Virginia M. Axline’s author’s note she stated that through multiple tests they were able to show that Dibs, in fact, had an I.Q. of 168 and his reading level was years beyond his age and grade level.

I think the things that fascinated me the most about Dibs was when he entered the playroom, he showed his feelings and needs through stories or songs that he would tell the therapist. His resentment and anger towards his father was shown and yet, he would then also come some days and tell how his father was adapting and changing his manner towards him.

Another thing that fascinated me about this book was when the mother came and would talk to the therapist about Dibs at home. At first she claimed she never wanted to be involved and yet as soon as there was a sign of improvement she felt urged to talk to her and tell her, her reasoning behind the way she used to treat her. Even though she tended to put a lot of the blame on herself, I never once believed she was as bad as she made herself seem. She sat patiently with Dibs and taught him how to read, how to count, how to be the way he is. Even when she got no articulate response, she watched him and his reaction and continued what she was doing. Also, her reasoning behind the way she acted was quite understandable. Having had the job she had and then for it all to go away after having a child, that was unexpected, must have been stressful and confusing to her. But I never doubted for a second they didn’t love him. Especially the father with the reaction he had to Dibs saying ‘I hate you.’

This book is just such a precious thing to own and read because, like the therapist, you get to watch the world of Dibs come to life. He gets to come out of this prison that he has built for himself, and finally be apart of the world around him. He also gets his abilities and capabilities seen, so he gets placed in a gifted school that is suited for him.

Language/Style: 7 points
Story: 7 points
Plot: 8 ponts
Characters (People): 8 points

Giving this book a total of 30 points out of 40 points.

Favourite Part: “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.”

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