Aubry Weiss, Jenny (1903-1987)

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AUBRY WEISS, JENNY (1903-1987)

Jenny Aubry Weiss, a physician in the Hospitals of Paris and French psychoanalyst, was born on October 8, 1903, in Paris, where she died on January 28, 1987. She was born into an upper-middle-class family; her mother was Jewish and her father Protestant. She studied medicine and interned with Clovis Vincent, was an assistant with Georges Heuyer, and, in 1939, was the second woman to be appointed as a physician in the Hospitals of Paris. In 1928 she married Alexandre Roudinesco, a pediatrician, with whom she had three children. She later divorced Roudinesco and married Pierre Aubry in 1952.

In 1939 she became a physician at an institute for gifted children (the first in France). She accepted a number of Jewish children and hired a number of Jewish personnel, saving them from the concentration camps. She prepared certificates of tuberculosis for young men likely to be sent to the forced labor camps in Germany. In 1944 she received the Medal of the Resistance. She was head of the pediatrics department of the Ambroise Paré Hospital in 1946, of the polyclinic on the Boulevard Ney in 1952, and of the pediatrics department of the Hôpital des Enfants Malades from 1956 to 1968. She met Anna Freud in 1948 and began psychoanalysis with Michel Cénac, Sacha Nacht, and Jacques Lacan, whose loyal supporter she remained during the sectarian battles of 1953 and 1963.

An excellent clinician, she realized quite early in her professional life that psychoanalytic insight can help to understand the development of children and their illnesses. Convinced of the importance of interactions between mother and child, mother and father, and parents and children, and of the key role played by the mother-child-father relationship, she was able to verbalize children's suffering and help their parents make sense of their physical and psychic disturbances. The publications, films, and papers she produced bear witness to this, as do her many innovations in the hospital, where she managed to create a pleasant and friendly environment within a recreational framework. She persevered in her efforts to create positions for kindergarten teachers and educators, and she included psychoanalysts on her staff.

In 1948 she appointed a teacher for her young patients and studied dyslexia. She brought psychoanalysts to the school for gifted children. She initiated a research program on the lack of maternal care with John Bowlby, and she formed a team with Myriam David to observe and establish analytic cures for children assigned to her department (Dépôt d'enfants de parents de Rosan). In 1950 she created a specialized family-placement service so that children under her care could benefit from a family environment and analysis.

Through the World Health Organization, she helped found, in July 1950, the first Guidance Center for Children in Soissons, France. In 1952, together with Odile Lévy-Bruhl and Raymonde Bargues, she studied children in the hospital day-care center and their entry into a preschool setting. In 1954 she was asked by the World Health Organization to study abandonment and child development in Africa. At the Hôpital des enfants malades, with Raymonde Bargues, Ginette Raimbault, Anne-Lise Stern, and René Tostain, she trained pediatricians and nurses to be sensitive to the needs of children and parents, and established a psychoanalytic practice. From the hospital administration she obtained approval for parents to visit from noon to 8:00 p.m.

After her retirement to Aix-en-Provence in 1968, she helped promote psychoanalysis in southeast France. In 1971 she organized and introduced the meeting of theÉcole freudienne de Paris (Freudian School of Paris). After the death of Pierre Aubry in 1972, she returned to Paris, where she resumed her psychoanalytic practice, served as a training analyst, and remained an active participant in theÉcole freudienne de Paris until its dissolution in 1980.

Marcelle Geber

See also: France; Technique with children, psychoanalytic.


Aubry, Jenny. (1983). Enfance abandonnée. Paris: ScarabéeMétailier.

Bargues, René. (1964) Les nourrices d'un placement familial curatif des carences affectives graves de la première enfance.Évolution psychiatrique, 3.

Lévy-Bruhl, Odile, and Aubry, Jenny. (1956). L'adaptationà l'école maternelle. Enfance, 1.

Roudinesco, Jenny, Trélat, Jean, and Trélat, M. (1949).Étude de quarante cas de dyslexie d'évolution. Enfance, 1.

Roudinesco, Jenny; David, Myriam; Nicolas, J.; et al. (1952). Réactions immédiates des jeunes enfantsà la séparation d'avec leur mère. Courrier du C.I.E., 2-3, 66-78, 131-142.

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Aubry Weiss, Jenny (1903-1987)

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