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Gisèle Gelbert

The Illiterate Brain

Is illiteracy a social scourge, or is it an aphasia-like disorder? To find the answer, Gisèle Gelbert delves into the mysteries of the brain of an illiterate person, and teaches us the art of `repairing' it. She shows us how illiteracy may be cured using a technique that she has developed and practised with success for many years with children, teenagers, and adults. Her method requires patience, great precision, and a series of therapeutic exercises requiring only pencil, paper, a book, and a tape recorder. In the course of her practice, Gelbert gradually constructed an increasingly complex schema of linguistic functions which enables her to define how someone speaks, listens, understands, reads, or writes. By thoroughly breaking down each linguistic act, she is able to define and localise with great accuracy the disorders observed in both written and oral expression. She also makes use of the schema to develop exercices that are especially adapted to the clinical observation of localised disorders, thus opening the door to new therapeutic possiblilities. Every year, Gelbert holds a series of seminars for the benefit of other practitioners in the combat against illiteracy, including linguists, childpsychiatrists, psychoanalysts, phoneticians, and teachers. During the course of her seminars, which meet every two months, she trains others in the use of her technique, explaining the sometimes complex aspects of the theory of aphasia-like disorders, and illustrating her explanations with clinical cases and specific exercises. The seminars also serve to keep her listeners informed on the current state of her research. The seminar is the reflection of an approach to teaching. It is hoped that the publication of this first volume will provide readers of "Lire c'est vivre" and "Lire c'est aussi écrire with the means and insights that will enable them to better understand the implications of Gelbert's work.

Gisèle Gelbert is a neurologist and aphasiologist. She is the author of "Lire c'est vivre "(Opus no. 23, 1996) and "Lire c'est aussi écrire" (1998).