Rambert, Madeleine (1900-1979)

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Madeleine Rambert, a Swiss psychoanalyst, was born in 1900 in Lausanne, where she died on May 17, 1979. The daughter of a pastor in the Free Evangelical Church of Vaud, she trained to be a teacher and soon specialized in handling backward children. She opened a facility for such children in Croix-sur-Romainmôtier. To improve her training she moved the facility to Lausanne and enrolled in classes at the Institut Jean-Jacques-Rousseau, where she studied psychoanalysis.

She was psychoanalyzed by Raymond Saussure and, after being supervised by Philipp Sarasin in Basel, she began practicing child psychoanalysis and became a member of the Société Suisse de Psychanalyse (Swiss Psychoanalytic Society) in 1942. That same year, Lucien Bovet founded the Office Médico-Pédagogique (Medical Training Center) in Vaud. Rambert worked at the Center, training the doctors and psychologists who came to practice there.

She is best known for her use of puppet therapy. She published a descriptionof the technique in 1938, and again in 1945 in Children in Conflict, Twelve Years of Psychoanalytic Practice, which included a preface by Jean Piaget. The book became an international success. Observation of the child at play led to the identification and interpretation of standard behaviors, which the game triggered. Rambert was closely associated with the Vienna school and described three phases in the treatment of the child: exteriorization of conflict; conscious realization and elimination of the neurotic conflict; and re-education.

During the 1960s and 1970s, she continued her training activities with teachers at the Pestalozzi School (Switzerland) and worked with delinquent women. In this way she was able to perpetuate her educational and social work, which characterize her role as one of the first clinicians in the field of child psychoanalysis in Switzerland.

Alain de Mijolla

See also: Switzerland (French-speaking).


Rambert, Madeleine. (1938). Une nouvelle technique en psychanalyse infantile: le jeu de guignols. Revue française de psychanalyse, 10,1.

. (1945). Children in conflict, twelve years of psychoanalytic practice (Yvette Moxley, Trans.). New York: International Universities Press.

Roch, Marcel (1979). Mademoiselle Madeleine Rambert (1900-1979). Bulletin de la Société suisse de psychanalyse, 9, 21-22.