Fédida, Pierre (1934-2002)

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FÉDIDA, PIERRE (1934-2002)

The French psychoanalyst Pierre Fédida was born in Lyon, France, on October 30, 1934, and died in Paris on November 1, 2002. He was a full member and president of the Association psychanalytique de France (French Psychoanalytic Association), a member of the International Psychoanalytical Association, and cofounder, with Daniel Widlöcher, of the Revue International de psychopathologie (International journal of psychopathology).

He passed the concours d'agrégation, a prestigious teacher-qualifying exam, in philosophy, and in 1962 he was appointed to a university-level teaching position. He began his clinical training in psychiatry and neuropsychiatry at the age of twenty-three, notably at the Bellevue Sanatorium in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, with Professor Ludwig Biswanger and in Münsterlinger, Switzerland, with Professor Roland Kuhn. His thinking on the treatment of psychotics was thus stamped with a distinctive phenomenological orientation that remained with him throughout his career.

All his psychoanalytic training (both individual analysis and professional training) took place under the Association psychanalytique de France, where he enrolled as a student in the 1960s and entered into analysis with Georges Favez. Although his background in phenomenological philosophy initially concerned some, he quickly established himself in the eyes of professionals as a very astute clinician with an exceptional mastery of the theory of treatment. After he became a training analyst, he was elected president of the Association psychanalytique de France in 1988 and undertook significant statutory reforms. Notably, he expanded the cadre of training analysts to include all tenured members of the association. He then played an active role in the European Federation of Psychoanalysis and the International Psychoanalytical Association, where, from 2000, he was responsible for contacts with psychologists, psychiatrists, and other psychoanalytic schools throughout Europe.

Concurrent with these developments, in 1966 he became senior assistant in clinical psychology at the Sorbonne with Juliette Favez-Boutonier. This led to his participation in the events that revolutionized the French university system in May 1968, with Jean Laplanche and others soon joining in.

Fédida taught at the Université de Paris VII from 1969 to 2002, and at the university he founded the Laboratoire de psychopathologie fondamentale et psychanalyse (Laboratory of basic psychopathology and psychoanalysis). Within the university's research and training program in human clinical sciences, which he helped establish, he served in many scientific and administrative capacities, including that of program director.

From the outset he brought a perspective transcending disciplines to his teaching, aiming to critique and bring together the main approaches in psycho-pathology, whether phenomenological, biological, or psychoanalytic. This open approach led him to establish a research laboratory in 1989 and an advanced degree program in basic psychopathology in 1990, which he wanted to link with biology and then to the Centre d'études du vivant (Life studies center) at the Université de Paris VII (where he also served as vice president from 1987 to 1989). He also traveled widely to universities abroad, where he established a solid network of relationships, especially in Brazil and other Latin American countries.

Fédida wrote a substantial number of works: 320 publications on a wide variety of subjects. In addition to ten to twelve articles each year from 1962, he penned such major works as Corps du Vide et Espace de Séance (The body of the void and the space of the session; 1977); L'Absence (Absence; 1978), Crise et Contre-Transfert (Crisis and counter-transference; 1992), Le Site de L'Étranger (The site of the alien; 1995), and Les Bienfaits de la Dépression (The benefits of depression; 2001). These works have been translated into many languages. Unifying themes of his work are the concealed, the stranger within, and enigmatic knowledge of the self.

A man of dialogue conscious of his own charisma, Fédida fashioned an atypical discourse combining psychoanalysis, psychopathology, philosophy, literature, architecture, and art history. His writings present a complex blend of scientific rigor, human openness, and confidence in diversity.

Sophie de Mijolla-Mellor

See also: Association psychanalytique de France; Counter-transference; Favez-Boutonier, Juliette; Groddeck, Georg Walther; Intergenerational.


Fédida, Pierre. (1977). Corps du vide et espace de séance. Paris: J.-P. Delarge.

. (1978). L'absence. Paris: Gallimard.

. (1992). Crise et contre-transfert. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

. (1995). Le site de l'étranger. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

. (2000). Par où commence le corps humain: Retour sur la régression. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

. (2001). Des bienfaits de la dépression:Éloge de la psychothérapie. Paris: Odile Jacob.

Fédida, Pierre, and Guyotat, Jean (Eds.). (1986). Mémoires et transferts. Paris:Écho-Centurion.

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Fédida, Pierre (1934-2002)

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