Mathelin, a French child psychoanalyst and psychotherapist published the book 'Lacanian Psychotherapy with Children. The Broken Piano.' It consists of short case studies which might give you an idea how psychoanalytic work can help children, and how it differs from different approaches. Rather than helping your child adjust to a certain norm, its attention focuses on the uniqueness of each subject. I want to pick one small case study, entitled Violette, or the Drama of Jealousy. I am closely following Mathelin's text here.
Violette was 6 when her parents came to see Mathelin. She was shy, withdrawn, sulky. The mother said that she was a loner, although the parents decided that they chose to have another child for her. Her little sister is 18 months old. The pediatrician had told them that jealousy is normal. They had read the work of Francoise Dolto. They had told her: 'We will always love you. you have the right not to love your little sister, but you must not hurt her.' It was no use: Violette hated her sister and the parents could not endure this. How was it possible, after all they'd read, and with all their knowledge (they were teachers of difficult children) that Violette could not bring herself to accept Marie's birth, and even wanted to choke her?
The previous week they had found little Marie suffocating as Violette said to her: 'I've had it. Now you will finally leave me alone!' The parents thought that she had gone mad and brought her to an analyst. Violette listened as the parents talked about the last 18 months. She sulked, no doubt thinking they were scolding her. Mathelin turned to her, asking: 'What is it, Violette? You look sad and angry? What do you think about what your parents are saying. What's going on between Marie and you? Do you want us to talk about it?'
Violette: 'I dunno. It's normal. Daddy says, it's normal if you don't love your sister. So I don't know why they pick on my. Ever since she was born they yell at me all the time. It's her fault. She gets on their nerves too much. When she was little, she never slept, so they were upset and took it out on me. We're at war.
C.M.: What was Marie's birth like?
Mother: Fine, no problems, but the pregnancy was much harder for me than when I was expecting Violette.
Violette had begun to draw a house with the shutters closed and the door barricaded, a house without flowers, without sun, a gray house. She stopped to listen to her mother speak of the time when she was pregnant with her.
Mother: I was so happy when I was expecting Violette. I wanted a little girl so much. With Marie it wasn't the same.
Father: It's true. you did not want a second child.
Mother: No, I didn't. But I was persuaded by what I read (she laughed) about how it is not good for an only child.
Mother: All the books say that. When a child is the only one, he gets bored, and hte world revolves around him. And that is true, because the world revolved around Violette before Marie was born.
C.M.: Do you have a sister?
Mother: No, I'm an only child. My mother