by David Heurtevent, Asperger, MA Georgetown
“Of all those who have nothing to say, the most likeable are those who stay quiet. ”
Listening to France Culture (a Public Radio) is painful. The smell of mothballs wafts across the airwaves from Saint-Germain-des-Prés with daily sessions of verbal masturbation financed by the taxpayer. But it’s not surprising that France Culture is the main media outlet for psychoanalysis as the pseudo-humanist, ethno-centric, verbal and financial mechanisms are the same.
On 10 February 2012, the mid-day program “La Grande Table” on France Culture, presented by Caroline Boué was the height of lies and condescension, so much so that we ask ourselves the question: Is France Culture trying to manipulate public opinion in favor of psychoanalysis?
A reminder of France Culture’s antecedents
Just in case you missed an episode:
07 December 2011, in her weekly broadcast,the psychoanalyst Caroline Elachieff described Sophie Robert’s work as a “breach of trust”, a criminal offence in France, even though the psychoanalysts had brought a civil case for which the hearing had not yet taken place.
14 January 2012, the program “Le Grain à Moudre”invited only guests in favor of placing children in institutions, and two psychoanalysts with the most partisan association in the question of the debate between psychoanalysis and behaviorism.
This time the accusation was much more serious. Apart from the biased choice of guests, (all close to psychoanalysis or with a conflict of interest), the listeners were treated to a certain number of falsehoods.
Lies from Catherine Clément
Catherine Clément, philosopher and writer, founder and director of the popular university of the Quai Branly Museum (since 2003) and producer of “Cultures de soi, cultures des autres” on France Culture was the first guest on the Grande Table.
Having announced that “Elizabeth Rodinesco had also written an excellent article in the Huffington Post” (03:32), she launches into an attack on Daniel Fasquelle’s proposed law and mentions an “open letter of reprimand” from Edwige Antier, psychoanalyst and elected member of the UMP party. She declares for example: “An elected representative thinks he has the authority to legislate over treatments as if the memorial laws on the history of peoples are not enough. It is madness. ” (08:39).
More seriously, Catherine Clément lies or is “economical with the truth” on several occasions:
Catherine Clément manipulates opinion about the documentary “The Wall” (Le Mur)
She announces that the documentary maker Sophie Robert, author of the film “The Wall” had received a heavy sentence for damaging the image and reputation of three psychoanalysts of the Lacan school who had taken her to court.” (04:24).
Once again France Culture makes it appear that it is a criminal and not a civil procedure! In addition, the decison is being appealed against.
Catherine Clément lies about the actions of Vaincre L’Autisme
Catherine Clément then goes on to attack the demonstrations organized on Lille on February 16 by Vaincre L’Autisme, calling them an attack on Professors Delion and Cohen.(04:36)
In reality, we should remember that Vaincre l’Autisme called on a demonstration against the practice of packing and against the banning of the film “The Wall”.
Catherine Clément justifies packing
Catherine Clément then openly declares her support for packing. She talks about “being wrapped temporarily in cold, wet sheets at 10°C, not for very long, it’s simply being wrapped up and these two doctors support scientific research on this subject, which was validated in 2008.” (05:00).
In fact a session of packing lasts for 45 minutes, the subject’s body temperature descends to 36°, and that children as young as 3 years old are subject to this study. She talks about validation, implying that it has been scientifically validated, whereas in fact it is only an authorization, which we consider to be immoral and against international law.
“Neither can we prove that packing is systematically harmful, I think there’s only been one serious accident, but no way can we prove it is systematically harmful. What I note about packing […] is that in a lot of ways it resembles other therapies used successfully by other civilizations as well as initiation rites which work a bit like that, which ethnologists have reported.
Catherine Clément defends a non-validated multidisciplinary approach
Talking of a young person who recovered from autism “thanks to a combination of multiple behavioral and psychoanalytical techniques.” (05:51). It’s quite normal, many professionals slot several practices together. ” (06:01).
No international recommendation on autism recognizes psychoanalysis as useful and scientifically validated in autism. Just because many professionals use these techniques does not make them effective or recommendable.
Catherine Clément attacks the definitions of Autism Spectrum Disorders
Catherine Clément attacks head-on the definitions of the autism spectrum as recognized in international classifications (CIM10 or DSM IV) or the new National Authority for Health (HAS) definition.
“How you can class someone with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome, generally talkative and exceptionally gifted in one area, with an autistic person who is non-verbal using the same category, the same word, is a mystery to me.” (06 :20).
Autism is a developmental and social interaction disorder, and language quality is not a criterion for diagnosis. In addition, Catherine Clément makes no distinction between high level autism and Asperger’s which are the object of two separate categorizations.
“It’s clear that the definitions of autism coming from US and Canadian classifications, […] are unclear with very little support. For example the genetic cause that they keep going on about has not been systematically proven. It’s only a hypothesis. ”
Fact: autism is subject to precise diagnostic criteria in the DSM IV and a battery of validated tests (ex. work by professors Simon Baron Cohen and Gilberg). In addition, the genetic cause of autism is well-recognized and has been the subject of numerous publications, even in France (cf. February 9 2012 publication of the Pasteur Institute on SHANK2).
What are her qualifications to speak about autism?
Absolutely none, she is neither a doctor nor a psychologist, not even a psychoanalyst. “I’m not a doctor, nor a psychoanalyst, nor a pediatrician” she says. (05:36).
Geneviève Brisac or how to be condescending to parents
The second guest was Geneviève Brisac, a writer who is “interested by psychoanalysis” and there in her own right “More to listen than to speak.” (13:51). She was however rather condescending when speaking about parents intentions. She spoke about “violence” of a “passionate aspect” which reveals a “hate of the uncertain and also of knowledge.” (14:02). She mentioned “parents overwhelmed […] by worry, pain, fear…” (14:50). For her “It is indeed an illness.” (16:12).
Bernard Granger or how a knowledge engineer became the objective ally of the psychoanalysts
The third guest was Bernard Granger, psychiatrist and psychotherapist, member of the French Association for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies, Professor at Paris Descartes University and in charge of the psychiatric unit of Tarnier hospital in Paris. Unfortunately, four elements demonstrate a more prudent position. Firstly, he works and teaches with a psychoanalyst in charge of the Young Persons Unit at Cochin Hospital in Paris. He admits that it is difficult to find a job “if you don’t follow the party line.” (00:00). Secondly there is also a conflict of interest as the magazine “Books” with which he is associated, has an agreement with the programme. (02:33). Thirdly, in reality he is a supporter of neuro-psychoanalysis and combined approaches: “The best thing is to combine several approaches.” Fourthly, he thinks, like the psychoanalysts, that “She [Sophie Robert] tricked them [the psychoanalysts] because she chose the most extreme caricatures to give a distorted image of the views on autism held by psychoanalysts, or at least those who were interviewed.” (25:55), even though he has not seen the rushes.
Bernard Granger’s intervention was a great example of doublespeak:
- “What Catherine Clément is saying is very true, it’s the combination of multiple practices which gives the best results, but again, people need to have access to all of them. ” (10:21).
- “Mr. François Fillon… next. ” (10:47).
- I think that there is a rather medieval atmosphere, with a lot of quibbling and a bit of witchcraft. ” (10:50).
- For some people, psychoanalysts are devils, for others, the behaviorists are barbarians. I think we have to take the emotion out of this debate, but that’s not at all easy. ” (11:03).
- There is a question of market share that you mentioned, it’s true that it plays a part. ” (11:14).
- I am very familiar with the worlds of universities and child psychiatry. It’s obvious that there is a predomination of psychoanalysis, and that it’s very difficult to have a career if you don’t belong.” (12:24).
- ”We train interns in psychotherapy and we train them in the different schools of thought […] In adult psychiatry it’s much more open. In paediatric psychiatry, and it’s one of the things that makes parents furious, certain would like their child to benefit from this type of approach and they are refused, because there are not enough trained personnel or because it doesn’t match the thinking of the Department head. If France is behind, it’s in this area. But as you said earlier, I don’t think we should go from one extreme to the other, and the best thing would be to combine both approaches. ” (12:48).
- “It’s true that current therapies offer relatively little hope and parents do not always understand that.” (15:07).
- In talking about what he considers to be generational change “These processes take a long time.” (20:13)
- I hate this term of user. I prefer the terms of patients and sufferers. ” (18:30).
- “That said, psychoanalysts can often be quite vicious towards each other. I think that Madame Roudinesco [in the Libération article] was talking about psychoanalysts who defend Bazar’s theories. She herself was much more ferocious about the three psychoanalysts who brought the case than Sophie Robert was in her film.” (26:20)
At the end of the day it seems to me that France Culture needs to look at its policy on managing guests and the plurality of viewpoints. Otherwise we can only think that France Culture is lying and trying to manipulate public opinion on the question of autism.
Talking of psychoanalysis, Catherine Clément closed the programme by saying that “in institutions, its place is under serious threat by what could be called a type of conspiracy. ” (27:00)
If conspiracy there is, we’d be better looking in the direction of France Culture, and not at associations of users!
Updated: 12/02/2012 – 22:05 – Confusion between Catherine Vincent and Catherine Clément in several places.
Translation of this page in French by Karen Wilshin