I recently re-read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, as I had recommended it to my book club and originally read it 2 years ago.
It was interesting everything I picked up on the re-read, having found out the big twist at the end. The “calls” from the mother are interesting, as you pick up that there's no text about the telephone being used, for example.
Good news - everyone in the book club loved it, and we had an interesting discussion about whether or not she would be considered to be on the spectrum (and apparently the author has said that she isn't).
One person brought up reactive attachment disorder, and this to me makes a great deal of sense as to what's going on with Eleanor. This is when infants don't securely bond to someone - and I can't imagine that infant Eleanor was able to bond with her mother.
One page that I googled about reactive attachment disorder in adults said this:
“Infants and young children with reactive attachment disorder face long-term risks that have consequences in their adulthood. Reactive attachment disorder in adults can mean poor adjustment in many areas of life. RAD also causes low self-esteem and sense of self-efficacy; the lack of support and attachment from birth results in adults who don't believe in themselves and their ability to live well. This is especially true for those who haven't received treatment for reactive attachment disorder.
Perhaps the biggest risk reactive attachment disorder has in adults is with relationships. The first attachment relationship is important in paving the way for future relationships. Without forming a bond with a caregiving adult, the person often has great difficulty forming and/or maintaining future social and intimate relationships.
Reactive attachment disorder in adults can also put someone at risk for other mental disorders. Anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, dissociative disorders, and personality disorders are commonly experienced by people with reactive attachment disorder or other attachment problems.”
Great book, have kleenex available, and enjoy meeting Eleanor!