Mannoni, Dominique-Octave (1899-1989)

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French philosopher and psychoanalyst Dominique-Octave Mannoni was born on August 29, 1899, in Lamotte-Beuvron (Loir-et-Cher), a small town in the Loire Valley, and died in Paris on July 30, 1989.

The son of a Corsican director of a disciplinary institution, Mannoni studied philosophy in Strasbourg, where his professor of psychology, the influential Charles Blondel, was positively hostile to psychoanalysis. In 1926, after completing his studies, he was appointed to the Lycée Gallieni in Tananarive. He would remain in Madagascar until 1945, when he was sent back to France for having supported the island's independence movement. During this period he published numerous literary and ethnographic articles.

In Paris, Mannoni began analysis with Jacques Lacan in 1946 and wrote Psychologie de la colonisation, published in 1950, which was to appear in English as Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of Colonization (1956), and which became the subject of critiques by both Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon. After the famous split with the International Psychoanalytical Association in 1953, Mannoni joined the Société Fran-çaise Psychanalytique (SFP); but ten years later, due to his close relationship with Lacan, he was not elected a full member; as one consequence, he lost interest in the administrative and political side of psychoanalysis.

Beginning with his return to Paris, Mannoni wrote regularly for Maryse Choisy's review Psyché, serving among other duties as film critic; his articles also appeared in Esprit and, still more prominently, in Les temps modernes, for which he continued to write until his death. He became a member of theÉcole freudienne de Paris (EFP) and was appointed analyst of the school (AE), a position he retained until the EFP closed in 1980. In 1982, with Patrick Guyomard he co-founded the Psychoanalytic Training and Research Center (CFRP), which was established on the initiative on his wife, Maud Mannoni.

Cultivated and independent, open to various avenues of thought in philosophy, anthropology, ethnology, and French and English literature, Mannoni remained aloof from the institutions to which he belonged. He avoided both administrative duties and fealty to either persons or theories. His work, of considerable importance, includes collections of articles on psychoanalysis and evaluations of literary figures. In his Lettres personnellesà monsieur le Directeur (1951), he undertook to "decolonize himself," a result of his analysis with Lacan. In 1968, he published a remarkable essay, Freud, which was widely translated. The lecture he composed after his failure to be appointed a full member of the SFP was published as "Je sais bien mais quand même" (I understand but still . . .; 1963). His famous article on Freud's relationship with Fliess, "L'analyse originelle" (The first analysis), appeared in 1967. "In 1907," Mannoni explained in that essay, "Freud was finally able to repeat with another the experience he had first undergone himself; and by making it repeatable, his experience became the first."

Jacques SÉdat

See also: Fanon, Frantz; France; Mouvement lacanien français; Lacan, Jaques; Mannoni-Van der Spoel, Maud (Magdalena).


Mannoni, Octave. (1951). Lettres personnellesà monsieur le Directeur. Paris: Denoël.

(1956). Prospero and Caliban: The psychology of colonization. London: Metheun.

. (1969). Clefs pour l'imaginaire. Paris: Le Seuil.

. (1971). Freud (Renaud Bruce, Trans.). New York: Pantheon. (Original work published 1968)

. (1990). Nous nous quittons. C'est là ma route. Paris: Denoël.