We are relaying a response of Sophie Robert to the various attacks online and offline by psychoanalysts and psychiatrists on her documentary “The Wall: Psychoanalysis put to the test for Autism”
This document was first released in French on December 21st 2011 on her official website
Complete translation thanks to Carole Contaut
The documentary genre in danger: an answer to psychoanalysts
By Sophie Robert,
Director of the film “The Wall: Psychoanalysis put to the test for autism”
My film “The Wall: psychoanalysis put to the test for autism” has been broadcast on many websites including the ‘Autistes sans Frontières’ association’s website. Since then and for several weeks I have been the target of personal attacks, serious accusations and many attempts of denigration. Words such as “deception”, “manipulation” “pure scam”, are amongst many attacks on the honesty of my work, and therefore against my honour and my integrity as the director. Thus it is my personal ethic as a documentary filmmaker that is put into question through public broadcasting of these attacks on such radio stations as France Culture and on the internet.
For good measure, three interviewed psychoanalysts, all members of the School of the Freudian Cause (Esthela Solano, Alexandre Stevens et Eric Laurent) have taken legal action against Autistes sans Frontière association and myself, as the filmmaker and manager of the “Océans Invisibles Production” production company. This is in order to prohibit the film’s broadcasting and to claim a huge amount of damages – 290.000 €, with a periodic penalty payment of 15 000 € per day, starting from the date on which censorship is granted.Legal
In order to have the film censored, these psychoanalysts have preferred to attack my integrity and make people believe that I have deliberately manipulated the meaning of their words. They do this rather than answer the substance of the issues raised by the film i.e. psychoanalytic theories and practise in the field of autism.
I will provide detailed answers to them, but first I have to clarify what documentary filmmaking is really about, since I feel the opponents of the film” The Wall” don’t have a correct definition of a documentary, and even deny the very nature of it.
The documentary genre allows the filmmaker a great deal of creativity, yet it is based mostly on reality. The initial purpose of a documentary is to show reality in a certain light that has been chosen by the filmmaker. However showing reality in a certain light has nothing to do with distorting it and changing it without the viewer knowledge. Such a misleading approach is reprehensible indeed, and it isn’t part of the documentary genre. It is also incompatible with the job of a documentary filmmaker.
In this case I am accused of falsifying reality, that is to say the meaning of the interviewees’ statements. I can confirm that I have not distorted the speeches of the film’s interviewees’, and that their contents have been reported very faithfully. In fact the accusers are confusing showing reality in a perspective chosen by the filmmaker with distorting and transforming reality. In this respect, the charges laid against me are actually laid against an entire profession.
As opposed to fiction, in which everything is made up, a documentary records people’s real lives, not actors playing a part. The documentary value of a film lays precisely on the filmmaker’s ability to transpose this reality, to be the closest possible to the truth, and then to communicate it (artistically if possible) to a global audience.
A filmmaker’s job to transpose reality is intended to inform the film’s audience, to collect information for public broadcast. In this respect, documentary filmmaking can be compared with the job of a journalist as it is defined by the Council of Europe, the institution responsible for the European Court of Human Rights.
In terms of documentary ethic, the job is not to make a blissful hagiography of the interviewees’, but to try to be the closest possible to their true selves, to the way they think and experience their message, while always keeping in mind there might be a discrepancy between a part in their speech and another part of it, or between their speech and their real actions. The truth of the subject is as important to documentary filmmakers as it is to psychoanalysts.
Throughout their testimonies on the CIPPA’s document (International Coordination of psychotherapists and psychoanalysts for Autism), the following people show they obviously don’t share the same definition of a documentary film than the one that is usually acknowledged in a democracy, since they regard as “distortion” and “cheating” any editing and cutting work on a documentary film:
- Mr. Laurent Danon-Boileau
- Mr. Bernard Golse
- Mr. Pierre Delion
- Mrs. Christine Loisel-Buet
- Mrs. Caroline Eliacheff, a radio commentator in France Culture,
- Mr. Aldo Naouri, after he published private emails on his website,
- Mrs. Esthela Solano-Suarez , Mr. Alexandre Stevens and Mr. Eric Laurent who are currently suing me
Therefore, it is the documentary genre as a whole that is the target of these attacks. It is this means of expression and of informing the audience that is dangerously challenged in court.
I refer the readers to my individualized responses in this text. Finally, and since this is also part of my defence, I also provide a decoding of the CIPPA’s arguments. This association of psychoanalysts suggests there would be a new, informed psychoanalysis in the field of autism, open to neurosciences and the therapies that have been developed and used worldwide for several years, a modern psychoanalysis, open to the world, as opposed to a “temple guardian”, outdated psychoanalysis.
I have long held this belief myself. However the recording of almost 60 hours of interviews with psychoanalysts made me realize absolutely nothing of the sort has actually happened.
At best, the CIPPA is deluding itself, at worst, it’s trying to disguise psychoanalytic therapy in a modern, commercial outfit in order to save its credibility with the authorities and the public.
The French government has just granted the Label “Great National Cause” to the collective of associations “Rassemblement pour l’autisme”. They all expressed their support to me, because the statements they heard in “The Wall” corroborate their own experiences, and they want this to stop. The “Autistes sans Frontières” association, which is currently being sued along with me, is a leader in this movement. The most important French association dedicated to autism, “Autisme France”, has spent more than twenty years denouncing the disastrous sanitary consequences of psychoanalytic therapy of autism.
So now, Distinguished Psychoanalysts, you have to face a choice: either you take legal action against me, (as your colleagues from the School of the Freudian Cause have already done) or finally assume responsibility for your statements, your thoughts and your actions.
Lille, December 21st, 2011