Meeting with Marie-France Hirigoyen

Since his first book

Moral Harassment , each of Marie-France Hirigoyen's books has sounded like a social manifesto. The psychoanalyst returns with us on the deep meaning of all her struggles. Pascale Senk

Psychologies: You are a psychoanalyst, listening to individual stories, but all your books point to collective ills. How do you explain it?

Marie-France Hirigoyen

: I think we psys are good social observers because people come to talk to us without censorship about what they live on a daily basis. Initially, I am only describing situations without a priori theoretical. This is probably because I took ethnology classes when I was a medical student. I like to observe and, suddenly, when situations are similar, I say to myself: "Here, it's weird." I also believe that there is a universality of what I describe, because the processes I point out are ultimately very stereotyped. I received hundreds of letters from readers around the world, who recognized themselves in my observations. The mechanism of moral harassment, for example, how did you discover it?

When I wrote my first book on this subject, I wanted to give a different view of what I heard about the so-called "masochism of the victims". And on the fact that, in given situations, there was no aggressor or attacker, but a circular movement that caused the victim, in a certain way, to induce the situation that she ended up suffering . I had observed cases where I totally disagreed with that. Not only was the person not responsible for what was happening to him, but the situation itself could be described as aggression and a trap. Another observation: the more this victim struggled, the more it sank. This is what I called "the hold" in domestic violence and "moral harassment" at work.

From book to book, you have been constantly exploring these situations of "perverse aggression". Why?

I like to work on the limits, these fringes, these moments where we slide towards an invisible violence: how to spot the moment when the other encroaches on my intimate territory and comes to abuse me? When should I say no? Seeing when my behavior harms the other is also fundamental. In the mechanisms that interest me, the individual is gradually led to no longer know what is his own, and what is the other, that this other is a person or a collective organization, as the business or the media. Take the model prescribed by women's journals: you have to be in shape, succeed in your relationship, be sexually at the top, have bright children, and so on.As a result, patients who come today to tell us that their children are smoking joints or not working in class - rather usual problems - experience these situations as a personal failure. It is difficult for them to maintain their critical sense and their identity.


Leave Your Comment