Berge, André (1902-1995)

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BERGE, ANDRÉ (1902-1995)

A French physician and psychoanalyst, André Berge was born on May 24, 1902, in Paris and died on October 27, 1995, in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Although Berge did not know him, President Félix Faure was his maternal grandfather and there is little doubt that this played a role in Berge's choices later in life. He grew up with two brothers in a free-thinking, upper-middle class, Catholic family with extensive social connections. His mother, Antoinette Félix-Faure, was a childhood friend of Marcel Proust. His father, René Berge, was a mining engineer, his uncle a perpetual secretary of the French Academy, his aunt a founding member of the "Ligue Fraternelle des Enfants" and a student of Maria Montessori. His secondary education took place at the Lycée Janson-de-Sailly, where he primarily studied literature. He published novels before founding, with his brother François, Les Cahiers du mois, in 1924, the year of his marriage to Geneviève Fourcade, with whom he had six children. A book of memoirs, Réminiscences (1977), described the events of the first half of his life.

In 1930 Berge participated in the foundation of the École des Parents, where he remained vice-president practically for the remainder of his life. He subsequently became interested in psychoanalysis. In 1939 he decided to undergo therapy with René Laforgue and, after joining the "Club des Piqués" consisting of Laforgue's analysands, became close with Juliette Favez-Boutonier, Françoise Marette (later Françoise Dolto), and Georges Mauco. He decided to study medicine, which he continued during the Occupation, and focused on child psychiatry with an emphasis on psychoanalysis with Professor Georges Heuyer. Berge earned an M.D. in 1946, he became an associate member of the Société Psychanalytique de Paris (Paris Psychoanalytic Society) that same year. He was named a full member in 1948.

In 1946 Berge joined the staff of the newly created Centre Psychopédagogique Claude-Bernard, founded by Georges Mauco. He became head of the medical section the following year, remaining director for twenty-six years, until 1973. In 1965 he founded the Association pour la Réadaptation des Infirmes Mentaux (APRIM) [Association for the Rehabilitation of the Mentally Disabled], was president of the Fédération Internationale pour l'Éducation des Parents et desÉducateurs [International Federation for the Education of Parents and Educators] (1973-1979), president of the Montessori Association of France, and a teacher at the Institut de Psychologie from 1961 to 1971. His many activities in international and national organizations, and his many articles assured him a place among the leading educators in the field of child psychoanalysis.

It was in this capacity that, between 1950 and 1952, he became involved in the trial of Margaret Clark-Williamsa psychologist who had been accused of practicing medicine without a licensedefending her right to practice psychoanalysis. His subsequent participation in the French psychoanalytic movement was somewhat unique. Even after the 1953 split, for several years he remained a member of the two rival societies, the Société psychanalytique de Paris (Paris Psychoanalytic Society) and the Société française de Psychanalyse (French Society for Psychoanalysis), founded by Daniel Lagache, Françoise Dolto, and Jacques Lacan, his former analyst. Berge was at the time an editor of the review Psyché, founded by Maryse Choisy in 1947, several of whose contributors were also members of the French Society for Psychoanalysis.

While efforts were being undertaken to integrate the French Society for Psychoanalysis within the International Psychoanalytic Association, he became a victim of an error on the part of the negotiators and was named, along with Jacques Lacan and Françoise Dolto, as one of those whom the international authorities wanted to exclude from the list of educators. After the mistake was rectified, he joined the non-Lacanians and created the Association Psychanalytique de France (Psychoanalytic Association of France). Berge was president from 1969-1970 but, faithful to his unique status of "dual membership," was, in 1965, also elected an associate member of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society, which he had been forced to quit shortly before.

Aside from Les Psychothérapies (1968), Berge is the author of a number of articles, talks, and books on psychopedagogy, of which he was one of the leading promoters in France. These were anthologized in André Berge: écrivain, psychanalyste, éducateur (1995). In 1936 his book L 'Éducation familiale was recognized by the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. Other books followed, including Le Métier des parents (1956), L 'Enfant au caractère difficile (1970), and La Sexualité d 'aujourd 'hui (1970). Berge outlined the course of his life in a series of interviews with Michel Mathieu in 1988; in spite of blindness, he remained lucid and active until his death.

Didier Anzieu, in his preface to André Berge: écri-vain, psychanalyste, éducateur, referred to his work as "protean" and praised the "flexible, open-minded, and rigorous approach that varied with the individual and the context of the exchange. This provided him with direct, rapid insights and the ability to transcribe them with simplicity in clear and convincing language, with less dependence on theory."

Alain de Mijolla

See also: Centre psychopédagogique Claude-Bernard; Clark-Williams, Margaret; France; Société française de psychanalyse.


Berge, André. (1936). L 'éducation familiale. Paris: Montaigne.

. (1968). Les psychothérapies. Paris: P.U.F.

. (1970). L 'enfant au caractère difficile. Paris: Hachette.

. (1988). De l 'écritureà la psychanalyse, entretiens avec M. Mathieu. Paris: Clancier-Guénaud.

. (1995). André Berge:Écrivain, psychanalyste, éducateur. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer.

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Berge, André (1902-1995)

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