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Wustefeld, S. Johnson, T.S. (2019). Maud Mannoni and Piera Aulagnier on Mental Illness and Disability: Parents at the Boundary Between Society and Childhood (France, 1960-80). Psychoanal. Hist., 21(2):193-209.

(2019). Psychoanalysis and History, 21(2):193-209

Maud Mannoni and Piera Aulagnier on Mental Illness and Disability: Parents at the Boundary Between Society and Childhood (France, 1960-80)

Sophie Wustefeld and Timothy Scott Johnson

This article reads Maud Mannoni's The Retarded Child and the Mother (1973) and L'éducation impossible (1973) in the context of French ‘institutional analysis’ in order to nuance criticism of Mannoni's work, particularly the criticism that Mannoni blamed mothers for the conditions of their children. Institutional analysis emerged in France after World War II. Institutional analysts drew from psychotherapy, sociology, and education in order to question power dynamics and the consequences of bureaucracy in their areas of research. Although often overlooked, this movement influenced Mannoni just as much as commonly acknowledged influences like Jacques Lacan and the anti-psychiatry movement. Moreover, connecting the preoccupations of institutional analysis with a more Lacanian approach, the thought of the understudied yet brilliant French psychoanalyst Piera Aulagnier (1923-90) offers crucial insights into the way political and social structures shape individual psyches. Retrieving these influences, we argue that Mannoni did not blame individual mothers for their children's pathologies. Instead, she identified the social and political dimensions of psychopathologies and suggested tackling the roots of psychic diseases in social institutions.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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