What becomes of analytical work with young psychotic or autistic patients when our intervention is by telephone or videoconference? The bodies are no longer present, and we remain observers, outsiders to the life of the family during confinement. What compass can we find during this pandemic? Hélène Bonnaud testifies that we find “the compass of the unconscious.”  However, during this time of analysis by Skype, the task is arduous.

Whether the analysis is by Skype or by Zoom, video-conferencing software has never had so many visitors. It is not simple to meet our young patients through this medium. Their image is returned to them by the small window, and they are often captivated by it. What can we bring them via computer or mobile phone? We bring our presence, the guarantee that we do not forget them and that they remain present for us. We search for a point of attachment.

Recently, I read a story to one of my young patients. To my surprise, he was captivated and was able in turn to tell me two stories. Through our respective stories, there was an encounter in another way.

However, tele-sessions or Zoom consultations do not make for analysis. Jacques-Alain Miller put it very well: “Seeing and talking to each other does not make an analytical session” because “co-presence in flesh and bone is necessary.”[1] Although there is not, in fact, a psychoanalytic session, we intervene with these children and their families to offer a moment when they can put something of what they are going through into words.

Some families feel controlled or experience these phone calls from the teacher, the special educator or the therapist as harassment. It is up to us to be welcoming and to intervene with small touches, without being inquisitive. During confinement there is an undercurrent of anxiety. Children feel persecuted or experience violence; others provoke violence in their families. It is therefore arduous work to ensure that a link continues which allows the anxiety to be calmed for these young people that we know so well. If the objective is to avoid their admission to the emergency room and the possibility of hospitalization, we stray from analysis, even though the real remains our first concern. What are we to do with this menacing real?



Translated by Lynn Gaillard


Originally published in the site of the ASREEP-NLS on 8th April 2020. Available online.

[1] Miller J.-A., “Le divan, XXI siècle. Demain la mondialisation des divans? Vers le corps portable”, Libération, 3 July, 1999.  https://www.liberation.fr/cahier-special/1999/07/03/le-divan-xx1-e-siecle-demain-la-mondialisation-des-divans-vers-le-corps-portable-par-jacques-alain-m_278498 Interview by Eric Favereau.  [Available in an unofficial translation into English here].