Armand Trousseau Children's Hospital

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The Armand Trousseau Children's Hospital is a symbolic landmark in the treatment of suffering children, whether from physical or psychical problems. Since the late 1960s, Trousseau has witnessed the birth and development of a massive movement to humanize hospital treatment for children. It is arguable that the necessity for parental presence close to hospitalized children was first recognized in the wake of the events of May 1968. We must not forget that prior to this time, young children were systematically strapped into their beds except for very limited visiting hours for the family. Generally speaking, very little attention was paid to the consequences of physical suffering, separation from the family, and the illness itself. The work of the pediatricians, psychologists and psychiatrists in Trousseau hospitalaccompanied by important though less global actions in other French hospitalsintroduced radical reforms in the way children were received, the quality of their stay and most of all in terms of consideration for hospitalized children.

It was indeed in this hospital that the humanization of pediatrics first blossomed and flourished, before being given concrete form in official decrees (Bulletin officiel, 1983, "Child hospitalization, Ministry for Social Affairs and National Solidarity, decree no. 83-24 of August 1, 1983", special issue no. 83/89b). Actions such as no longer strapping children into their beds, opening hospital sections up to parents, designating the first rooms for mothers, training maternity staff to inform and support parents after the birth of a handicapped child, the prevention of maltreatment, and the creation of a school inside the hospital all served to transform treatment.

Simultaneously, this collaboration between pediatricians, psychologists and psychiatrists gave rise to the notion of liaison psychiatry and thus the presence in almost every pediatrics department of psychologists and child psychiatrists. The metapsychological markers introduced by psychoanalysts contributed in a specific and important manner to defining this clinical field.

It is no accident that Françoise Marette Dolto conducted a psychotherapy consultation unit for trainee analysts at Trousseau from 1940 to 1978. Her presence left a deep and lasting mark, although we must bear in mindand this is by no means the least of the paradoxesthat this consultation unit was never a part of the psychiatric department: the premises were simply lent to her and she was never paid by the hospital. All of the movements initiated at Trousseau to improve the conditions governing child hospitalization and treatment link up, at least symbolically, with her combat for the recognition of children as subjects in their own existence.

FrÉdÉrique Jacquemain

See also: Dolto-Marette, Françoise.


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Soulé, Michel, and Lebovici, Serge. (2003). La connaissance de l'enfant par la psychanalyse. Paris, Presses Universitaires de France.