Contribution of the psychoanalytic clinic in oncology

A. Lehmann, J. Y. Petit, L. Barreau-Pouhaer, M. Rietjens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The psychoanalytic approach in oncology is above all clinical. On the one hand, clinical in the sense that, for the staff as well as psychoanalyst, the patient is the focal point: the patient, with the anxiety he suffers, his refusals, moments of depression, and also the feeling of malaise he creates. These subjective phenomena often disconcert the staff who feel they understand nothing about them. This approach is also clinical in that it is on-the-job, daily routine work. It seeks to help patients and staff get a hold of themselves again in a difficult situation and find more satisfying solutions to problems that come up. But, on account of the working through each person, the clinical approach also includes a dimension of training and research. Clinical work and theoretical elaboration are closely interwoven in it for each piece of knowledge gained is immediately put to the clinical test again. Neither theory nor practice can remain stationary. This continuous testing of one by the other brings simultaneous progress in both fields. The systematic and strict compilation of data allows one to take into account the singularity of the patient, the case, and the situation. Lessons can likewise be learned about ways of proceeding as well as psychic processes in play. Knowledge thus gained largely overlaps that obtained from other approaches. Its advantage lies in its being able to be used by each intervening party in terms of his skills and specific role. Lastly, psychoanalytic work in oncology remains oriented to patients. They are the ones who profit from it in the first place. Working through each intervening party, staff member and psychoanalyst, gives patients the possibility of not having to passively undergo what is happening to them. This change in attitude is a powerful ally in treatment. Encouraging, and if necessary, helping their working through, allows them to have another relationship to what they have lived through. So they can get some distance, situate themselves differently, and, in the course of time, rediscover where they belong and how to live. This type of work offers neither illusory reparation nor a crutch to lean on, but provides patients with the possibility of rediscovering a certain inner coherence by themselves and for themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
JournalNew Trends in Experimental and Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Contribution of the psychoanalytic clinic in oncology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this