Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

"Psychoanalysis Partagé": Winnicott, the Piggle, and the Set-Up of Child Analysis

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

"Psychoanalysis Partagé": Winnicott, the Piggle, and the Set-Up of Child Analysis

Article excerpt

Gabrielle's disclosure in perspective

Forty years after its first publication in 1977, The Piggle: An account of the psychoanalytic treatment of a little girl has recently provoked new interest among researchers. New archives have been exhumed (Luepnitz 2017; Reeves 2015a, 2015b) and Gabrielle,1 the little girl nicknamed "the Piggle," today a woman in her fifties, has, in a fascinating discussion with Deborah Luepnitz, revealed her identity in a kind of analytical coming out, agreeing for her exceptional testimony to be shared with the psychoanalytical community.

Fulfilling Caldwell's wish, all recent papers (Bürgin 2016; Luepnitz 2017; Reeves 2015a, 2015b; Szajnberg 2017) show the "contemporary relevance of reading Donald Winnicott" (Caldwell 2016, p. 338) and of reading case histories more generally in order to think about the psychoanalytic praxis. By "stimulating] readers' psychoanalytic development" (Renik 1994, p. 1246), full-length cases indeed allow us to reconsider the logic of the treatment and put its metapsychological and clinical hypotheses to the test.2

Indeed, as I was working on this paper, my initial focus on The Piggle squarely in the perspective of child analysis, my approach was enriched by Gabrielle's disclosure and the literature surrounding it. Reconsidering the part played by her mother in the whole case, I started to broaden the scope to ask what a psychoanalytical "case" with children is about. Who are its protagonists? What are their respective functions? What is the effect of publication?

The originality of this paper, therefore, first stems from its perspective, as it strives to understand The Piggle as a complex "set-up." By this term, I mean a heterogeneous ensemble linking together discursive and non-discursive elements, whose interaction in the treatment and the way they both oriented and determined the process of the cure is the focus of my analysis. In other words, while all commentators agree on Gabrielle's improvement in the course of the 16 sessions, the point is to understand how this result was brought about. This paper argues that this can be done only by considering the whole set-up, which includes the theoretical elaborations, the material setting, Winnicott's actions and choices, both intentional and unintentional,3 and the interaction between all these elements. It will argue that special attention needs to be lavished on The Piggle (the book, not the child) as an integral part of this set-up.

Secondly, the originality of my approach consists in adopting a Lacanian framework in order to open a dialogue between the different French and English-speaking reappraisals of the case.4 Regardless of how irreconcilable some of their conflicts may be, confronting their clinical insights, theorizations, and interpretative frameworks is, I believe, illuminating. Focusing on a single object can give us the opportunity to open up a debate between different metapsychological approaches to child analysis, not only based on philosophical or epistemological grounds, but on the clinical material itself.

Three issues are at stake in this paper. First, I intend to study The Piggle and its set-up in order to uncover the specific logic of the case. Second, I would like to broaden the discussion to examine what it can teach us about the place of infantile sexuality in child analysis and about the set-up of child analysis more generally-especially questioning what Winnicott calls "psychoanalysis partagé." Third, I will look specifically at the effects of co-writing and co-publishing-as part of the set-up itself-on the analytical outcome.

A "case history squiggle"?

Before we begin, let me very briefly present the well-known main outlines of the case. The Piggle is a record of 16 consultations with a toddler, Gabrielle, aged 2 years and 4 months at the beginning of the treatment (Winnicott 1977, p. 5). The child was brought to analysis because of her phobic anxieties, which appeared after her little sister Suzan's birth, when she was 21 months old: she was afraid of the "babacar" and the "black mummy. …

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