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This article, based on research in the field of child welfare, investigates the experience of the child in a Maison d'Enfants à Caractère Social (MECS) who has often lived through early relational failings and temporary or final separation. Starting out from the traumatic nature of affective and educational deprivation suffered by the child and its consequences on the psyche, the authors consider the process of repetition at work with these raw memories in intersubjective relations. From the clinical case of a nine-year-old girl, Olivia, they study how the institutionalized child, suffering from a fundamental identity crisis, sought to shape a symbolizing response to her traumatic experience onto the institutional environment of foster care, through what might be called an intense “monopolizing” of her object-surroundings.


  • placed child
  • abandonment
  • monopolising
  • symbolisation
Nathalie Guillier
Daniel Derivois
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