Favreau, Jean Alphonse (1919-1993)

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Jean Alphonse Favreau, French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, was born on February 5, 1919, in Bordeaux, France, and died on May 30, 1993, in Saint-Léger-aux-Bois, France. Favreau belonged to a Catholic family that originally came from Guadeloupe. His father, an obstetrician, became a professor of obstetrics at the Catholic medical faculty in Lille, France, where Jean Favreau began his medical training in 1938. His studies were interrupted by the Second World War. Demobilized in 1940, he finished his studies in medicine in Bordeaux and later in Paris. In Lille he had met Jeanne-Marie Lejenne, whom he married in 1947. A physician herself, she became a psychoanalyst in 1957 and died in 1988. They had six children.

Through the lectures (published in the Journal de Médecine de Bordeaux, June 1913) and books of Angélo Hesnard owned by his father, Favreau learned of Sigmund Freud's theories and was won over. In 1945 he embarked upon what would become a three-year analysis with John Lueba. In 1948, under the supervision of Sacha Nacht and Marc Schlumberger, he began the analysis of his first patients. These cases, taken in the context of his hospital practice, he did for free, which he justified in terms of the poverty and somewhat utopian climate that prevailed in the postwar period. Viewing free practice as a way of experimenting with possibilities for treatment under a different political and economic regime, he focused his research on the effect of free treatment on the development and resolution of the psychoanalytic process.

This spirit persisted in the orientation and management of the Centre de consultations et de traitements psychanalytiques (Center for Psychoanalytic Consultations and Treatment), which was founded by Sacha Nacht in 1954 and where Favreau served as head physician beginning in 1958. His prior institutional experience dated from 1948, when, with Pierre Mâle, he helped create a hospital service for children aged six to ten years that allowed psychoanalysts to treat not just children but also their families. In this context he gained work experience consulting with families and supervising the psychotherapeutic treatment of children. He worked in a similar capacity at the Centre de consultations et de traitements psychanalytiques until his death, although he was succeeded as director by Jean-Luc Donnet in 1989.

Favreau's work bears the imprint of his practice, since clinical experience remained at the heart of his theoretical contributions. Working from cases of adult analysands, he sought to elucidate the "fantastic" and metapsychological genesis of the psyche and its successive alterations. The birth of the psyche is traumatic, he believed. Hence the object of psychoanalysis is human nature, not psychopathology. He illustrated this point in a report on the psychoanalytic treatment of an alcoholic patient emphasizing process rather than results. This focus on process was an important consideration for him. He also focused on those aspects of the development of human sexuality that are most often passed over in silence because they are subjected to intense repression and give rise to shameful feelings that wound the subject's narcissism, aspects such as anal sexuality and our animal nature in general. In this regard, he, together with his wife, contributed an article titled "Considérations sur les anomalies du comportement sexuel chez l'animal" (Considerations on Anomalies in Sexual Behavior in Animals; 1964) to a book on animal psychiatry. He was guided in his theoretical work by Freudian metapsychology and granted considerable economic importance to the idea of après-coup (deferred action).

Favreau transmitted his knowledge of psychoanalysis to younger analysts through supervision groups and seminars. The oral mode of communication was well suited to his thought because it is closer than writing to the experience of treatment and the emergence of the unconscious. In his work one thus finds a greater concentration on practical aspects of psychoanalysis (such as indications for treatment, the psychoanalytic process, and the training of psychoanalysts) than on purely theoretical issues. Nevertheless, his contributions to child psychoanalysis and the study of children's emotional problems remain remarkably relevant and sound. He constantly insisted that the basis of theory is the drives and language, and he ascribed a determining role to the dialectical relationship among anxiety, suffering, and pleasure. Favreau published twenty-two articles, many of them written collaboratively or given in the form of interviewsyet another indication of his personable style.

Marie-ThÉrÈse Montagnier

See also: France; Société psychanalytique de Paris and Institut de psychanalyse de Paris.


Favreau, D. (1990). Le désir d'enfant dans l'imaginaire de l'enseignement.Études psychothérapiques, 1 (new series), 115-124.

Favreau, Jean. (1964). Considérations sur les anomalies du comportement sexuel chez l'animal. In Abel Brion and Henri Ey (Eds.), Psychiatrie animale (pp. 265-281). Paris: Desclée, De Brouwer.

. (1972). La formation des psychanalystes.Études freudiennes, 5-6, 51-72.

Mâle, Pierre, and Favreau, Jean. (1959). Aspects actuels de la clinique et de la thérapeutique des troubles affectifs de l'enfant. Psychiatrie de l'enfant, 2 (1), 148-195.

Ruyer, Danièle. (1991). Psychanalyse et idéal thérapeutique (interview with Jean Favreau). Revue Française de Psychanalyse, 55 (2), 501-509.

Troisier, Hélène, and Favreau, Jean. (1990). Plaisir et jouissance: chemins et détours (interview with Jean Favreau). Revue française de psychanalyse, 54 (1), 189-196.