In A History of Autism, Adam Feinstein offers one explanation for the persistence of psychoanalytic theories of autism in France. During the Second World War, pro-Vichy psychiatrists believed in the genetic theory whereas pro-Resistance professionals took the psychoanalytic approach.
Whatever the case, psychoanalysis still has a grip on autism treatment in France, as Geri Dawson writes at Autism Speaks:
You may have seen recent headlines generated by the controversial French film, The Wall, which highlights the persistence of inappropriate autism treatments in France. There, families with a child who has autism are often offered outdated psychoanalytical therapies based on the widely debunked Freudian idea that autism results from being raised by an emotionally cold mother (the so-called “refrigerator mom” theory of autism).
The persistence of such ineffective treatments and outdated attitudes reminds us of the need to continually educate the public and the world medical community of the effectiveness of modern therapies for autism—including behavioral interventions such as Applied Behavioral Analysis. For more information, please see the “How Is Autism Treated?” page of the Autism Speaks website and Autism Speaks’ 100 Day Kit, created specifically for newly diagnosed families to make the best possible use of the 100 days following their child’s diagnosis of autism.