Centre Psychopédagogique Claude-Bernard

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Named after the Parisian lycée where it was first installed, the Centre psychopédagogique Claude-Bernard was founded in 1946 on the initiative of Juliette Favez-Boutonier (quickly succeeded by André Berge) and Georges Mauco.

The project came into being during the German Occupation, when these three analysts held informal meetings with Françoise Dolto and Marc Schlumberger. The idea was to create an institution that would enable children, adolescents, and their families to benefit from the discoveries of psychoanalysis in a framework other than hospital consultation. They envisaged a different approach to character disorders, language problems, and intellectual inhibitions. The revolutionary aspects of this project made it quite compatible with the vast plan of social and educational reforms that came into being at the end of the war.

Like other centers later created in other cities, this structure had a dual vocation: medical on the one hand, educational and administrative on the other, the managers of both sections being analysts. This dual vocation symbolized the "crucible" in which actors from all sorts of different disciplines worked for the benefit of the children and their families, but this diversity shared a common horizon: analytic comprehension. In 1972 the center became "medico-psycho-educational" (CMPP).

The social backdrop has changed completely over the last fifty years. Child psychology and psychoanalysis have seen their domains extended and, most of all, considerably deepened. The CMPP model has been contested, although November 1996 saw Claude-Bernard celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in good health!

The Centre had an unquestionable role in the psychoanalytic movement in France. It played a considerable part in spreading psychoanalytic concepts in the domain of education and teaching. In addition, it promoted innovative practices in the psychoanalytic domain: From the very beginning, individual psychotherapy was complemented with the addition of child and parent group psychodrama. Innovations were also constantly introduced in other domains, educational psychology, psychomotricity, and orthophonics for example.

The question has been raised whether the multiplicity of approaches would not dilute the psychoanalytic idea at the base. On the contrary, it would seem that the conjunction of "impossible tasks" is what makes such an institution rich and dynamic.

Claire Doz-Schiff

See also: Berge, André; Clark-Williams, Margaret; Favez-Boutonier, Juliette; France; Mauco, Georges.

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Centre Psychopédagogique Claude-Bernard

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