Archives par mot-clé : Anthropology.

Eric Chauvier : The Unconscious of the Investigation, an Experience of Knowing

The observation of human suffering often takes place from distance achieved by disavowing emotional states which, nevertheless, often seem decisive for the observer. This paper will attempt to investigate this hypothesis using the example of a research-intervention mission in an institution for adolescents living through familial break-up. Deeply troubled by the strangely disaffected voice of an adolescent girl, the observer is obliged to drop the distanced attitude of the expert. What bothers him is not the history of this young girl, but what it recalls of his own family experience, which gets mixed up with scientific observation. The return to this “unconscious of the observation” forms the basis of what we could call an initiation.

Adolescence, T. 31 n°1, pp. 145-152.

François Pommier : adolescence under the influence – the paths (roads) of mourning

The adolescent who risks getting lost in his own reflection or in that of others he bears is thus both on a quest for images and under the control of the past. Some forms of control are direct and quite obvious, others are parallel or lateral – among siblings, for example – or sometimes farther back in the ancestral line. Along with the question of an anthropology of adolescence, we propose to approach the quiet transformations inherent to adolescent processes and the insidious installation of figures that partly obscure the field of representation. We will try to show that though these figures sometimes set the subject in a dynamic of unending mourning, they will in the end contribute to structuration, and therefore have a positive influence on the adolescent process.

Adolescence, 2014, 32, 1, 57-70.

François Richard : does the oedipus complex still exist ? the identical and difference : a debate with françoise héritier

This article discusses the hypothesis that, in contemporary society, the Oedipus complex is more complex but still exists as a central organizer of the psyche. A debate with anthropological views – in particular with avec Françoise Héritier and her theory of « incest of the second type » (between a mother and daughter who have the same lover) – leads to a re-problematization of the notions of primary homosexuality, intersubjectivity and thirdness. Thus the issue of differentiation can be better conceived in relation to subjectivation : does incest hold the risk of a psychotizing undoing of differentiation ? What about psychical disorders in adolescence marked by phenomena of regression towards group situations dominated by borderline functioning ? The identical evoked by Françoise Héritier does not totally correspond with narcissistic libidinal economy. It is necessary to revive the historic dialogue between psychoanalysis and anthropology (A. Green and J. Lacan with C. Lévi-Strauss, and more recently, the exchanges between M. Godelier and B. Juillerat), starting with a reflection on the paternal function today, extending the critical discussion of the theory of incest of the second type, and an example of a traditional society without fathers and contemporary neo-parenthood. It would appear that the oedipal triangle can take various forms.

Adolescence, 2014, 32, 1, 23-46.

Philippe Gutton : the fundamental anthropological concept of adolescence

After a general introduction to the Colloquium of October 5, 2012 at the Collège de France, the author proposes the fundamental anthropological concept of adolescence. Two formative processes involved in its creation are the pubertary and the infantile. The processes of adultness are the repetition, recollection and elaboration of infantile neurosis. In anthropological terms, they represent established order. The situation is explored from the perspective of the encounter – critical, and perhaps constructive and founding – between the pubertary undergoing sublimation and adultness.

Adolescence, 2014, 32, 1, 11-21.


Vertigo quest that can go to syncope is a usual teen activity under enjoyable activities such as elastic jumping, physical commitments. Or painful activities such as binge drinking, toxicomany… But we also find it under the form of asphyxia games where syncope is deliberately found. This article provides an anthropological analysis of this paradoxical quest.

David le Breton : the skin’s depth

The skin is, for better or worse, an instrument for constructing identity, playfully, through tattoos or piercing, or more painfully, through scarification. By painfully sacrificing a part of oneself, blood, the individual strives to save what is essential. By inflicting a controlled pain on himself, he fights against suffering that is infinitely worse. In order to save the forest, it is necessary to sacrifice one part of it. In the same way, if one is to get on with one’s life, one must sometimes hurt oneself as a way of combating distress.

David le Breton : The Forest Fire : An Anthropology of Self-Mutilation

In adolescence the body becomes a projection surface that one must control by adorning it, concealing it, abusing it, etc. Existence is a matter of skin, a question of the frontier between inside and outside. Cutting into the body brings suffering to the surface of oneself, where it becomes visible and controllable; it is much more an act of passage than a passage to the act

François Richard : parenthood, a debatable notion

This article tries to show that the notion of parenthood emerges in the context of an historical evolution where the social bond tends to reproduce itself, beyond traditional kinship systems. This should be brought seriously into the discussion, insofar as the psychoanalytical concept of drive conflict and the centrality of interpreting the transference are in danger of being forgotten. The first part describes the current modes of « culture and its discontents ». Afterwards, we will study some avatars of borderline subjectivation who rationalize themselves within a discourse on parenthood. In conclusion, parenthood and kinship are put into a dialectical relationship by being put into anthropological perspective.