Diatkine, René (1918-1997)
DIATKINE, RENÉ (1918-1997)
René Diatkine, a French psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, was born on April 6, 1918, in Paris, where he died on November 2, 1997. He was born into a Russian Jewish family (from the region of Vitebsk) that emigrated to France during the early part of the twentieth century. He began studying medicine in 1939 and continued through World War II, during which he was mobilized twice. When not on active duty, he lived in Marseille, where he established his first significant professional contacts, most notably with Rudolph Loewenstein.
In 1946, as soon as the war was over, Diatkine became a physician and trained in psychiatry and psychoanalysis in Paris, where he settled permanently. He worked as an intern, then as a senior psychiatrist at the children's hospital Hôpital Necker des enfants malades in Professor Georges Heuyer's department. During this period he met Julian de Ajuriaguerra, with whom he opened a practice to treat language and motor disturbances. He and Ajuriaguerra also worked together to open a center for observing children, where they collaborated with language educators and psychomotor and language trainers. At the same time, Diatkine began his analytic training, undergoing analysis with Jacques Lacan. He became an associate member of the Société psychanalytique de Paris (Paris Psychoanalytic Society) on June 26, 1951, and a full member on July 1, 1952, after having resumed analysis with Sacha Nacht. He participated in the critical dialogue that expanded the field of French psychiatry, which until then had been restricted to asylums. It was at this time that Diatkine established what were to become the key interests of an extremely active career.
In 1958, together with Serge Lebovici and Rosine Crémieux, he established the journal La psychiatrie de l'enfant (Psychiatry of the child). That same year, with Serge Lebovici, Philippe Paumelle, and others, he founded the Association de santé mentale (Mental Health Association) in Paris. There in 1963 he helped establish the Centre Alfred-Binet, a psychoanalytic institution for children.
In 1972 Diatkine, together with Julian de Ajuriaguerra and Serge Lebovici, founded a children's line as part of the series Le fil rouge, published by Presses universitaires de France.
In Geneva and Paris, Diatkine helped develop a system of adult care for schizophrenic patients. In Geneva he was appointed associate professor in 1972, then part-time professor, and finally honorary professor in 1991. He continued to lead seminars until 1995.
In addition to his institutional commitments, Diatkine was active in the Paris Psychoanalytic Society. In 1953 he became director of the Centre de consultations et de traitements psychanalytiques (Center for Psychoanalytic Consultation and Treatment) of the new Institut de Psychanalyse in Paris. That same year he participated in supervisory committees of the International Psychoanalytical Association, working to spread the use of psychoanalysis in Spain and Portugal. In 1964, under the auspices of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society, he instituted the annual Deauville Colloquium, known after his death as the René Diatkine Colloquium. In 1968 he was president of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society and remained active in its teaching committees and candidate training programs.
In 1982, with Marie Bonnafé, he founded Actions culturelles contre les exclusions et les ségrégations (Cultural Activities to Counter Exclusion and Segregation), a unique organization providing access to books to children and parents living in marginalized or poor communities. That same year Diatkine created Les cahiers du Centre Alfred-Binet (Journal of the Alfred Binet Center).
Diatkine wrote extensively: his list of publications includes more than four hundred titles. From the 1950s he progressively developed his ideas. Since then his approach was recognized as highly different, even though his work was still influenced by contemporary neuropsychology, especially the research of Julian de Ajuriaguerra. His work helped establish foundations for a new form of child psychoanalysis. His book La psychanalyse précoce (Precocious psychoanalysis; 1972), written in collaboration with Janine Simon, remains an important text on child psychoanalysis. In it he developed his notion of the role of primal fantasies. Several of his studies were significant for the evolution of French psychoanalytic thought after World War II: "Étude des fantasmes chez l'enfant" (Fantasies in children), in collaboration with Serge Lebovici (1954), "Aggresivité et fantasmes d'agression" (Aggression and aggression fantasies; 1964), "Rêve, illusion et connaissance" (Dreams: illusion and understanding; 1974), "Introductionà une discussion sur le concept d'objet en psychanalyse" (Introduction to a discussion of the object in psychoanalysis; 1989).
While maintaining his individual practice, Diatkine developed original techniques for expanding the application of psychoanalysis: individual psycho-drama, collaboration with teams of multidisciplinary caregivers, techniques of language reeducation, field work, coordinated programs involving teachers and librarians. He explained how links between the normal and the pathological could be used to escape overly rigid classifications, questioned the "ravages of fate," and worked to reestablish the historical continuity that dissolves during a difficult adolescence. Emphasizing latent mental potential, he insisted on the possibility of psychic reorganization, and transmitting, rather than teaching, the richness and discipline of psychoanalytic thought; he fought against reductionism.
Notion developed: Prepsychosis.
See also: Aggressiveness/aggression; Centre Alfred-Binet; Centre de consultations et de traitements psychanalytiques Jean-Favreau; Character neurosis; Child psychoanalysis; France; Indications and contraindications for psychoanalysis for an adult; Maternal reverie, capacity for; Société psychanalytique de Paris et Institut de psychanalyse de Paris; Stammering; Technique with children, psychoanalytic.
Aguirre Omar, José-Maria, and Guimon Ugartechea, José. (1994). Vie et œuvre de Julian de Ajuriaguerra. Paris: Masson.
Bonnafé, Marie. (1994). Les livres c'est bon pour les bébés. Paris: Calmann-Lévy.
Diatkine, René. (1964). Agressivité et fantasmes d'agression. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
——. (1974). Rêve, illusion et connaissance. Revue française c de psychanalyse, 38 (5-6), 769-820.
——. (1989). Introductionà une discussion sur le concept d'objet en psychanalyse. Revue française de psychanalyse, 53 (4), 1037-1043.
Diatkine, René, and Simon, Janine. (1972). La psychanalyse précoce. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Lebovici, Serge, and Diatkine, René. (1954).Étude des fantasmes chez l'enfant. Revue française de psychanalyse, 18 (1), 108-155.
Lebovici, Serge, Diatkine, René, and Soulé, Michel. (1985). Traité de psychiatrie de l'enfant et de l'adolescent. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Quartier-Frings, Florence. (1997). René Diatkine. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.