François Richard : what the encounter with the adolescent teaches the psychoanalyst

Is there such thing as psychoanalysis of the adolescent ? Two points of view will be refuted, one which considers adolescence as the moment of repression after-the-fact and one which is frightened of the danger of enflamed passions in a two-person clinical situation. The history of theoretical elaborations about adolescence introduces one to a conception of the encounter between the psychoanalyst and the adolescent that can shed light on psychoanalytical practice with the adult.

The Freudian method of interpreting drive conflict and the transference is applicable with the adolescent, as is demonstrated by the treatment of a young adolescent presenting anorexic and addictive disorders. Here borderline ways of functioning correspond to contra-phobic projective defenses, repression being covered by splitting.

Some hypotheses are advanced concerning current adolescent and young adult pathologies (paradoxical recourse to forms of excitation meant to de-sexualize, externalization of psychical interiority) in a context of « civilization and its discontents ».

Adolescence, 2011, T. 29 n°2, pp. 245-270.