The French Adolescence: A Psychoanalytic Perspective (Conclusion)

The French Adolescence: A Psychoanalytic Perspective (Conclusion)

Editor’s note: This article is based on a synthesis of two different papers. Both are dedicated to the French youth and the cannabis: the first presentation occurred during the Addiction Science Congress in Tehran (September 2015) while the second took place at Shahid Beheshti University (Tehran, April, 2016). You can read the introduction here, Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here. 


The new pathologies of “link and attachment”

The use of cannabis can also be enlightened through what we name “the needs of links”. There is nowadays an interest, seen as vital, to feel and to be connected with “others”. A huge paradox: on the one hand, we observe a strong dilution of the individuality into the group multitude which becomes an “aggregate of isolated” as D.W. Winnicott said. The psychic heaviness of existence leads humans to drown it into the community (Freud, 1921; Mendel 2003). On the other hand, the same human being and, specially, the youth claim to exist only through the relationship to others. Identity is now acquired through a web proxy. Loneliness is unthinkable, because unbearable if not associated with depression. The “I” lost oneself and is now searching for the “we” recognition as a survival.

Many factors are able to explain this phenomenon. First of all, the addictogenic and hyper-consumerist environment is strengthening the claim for immediacy as a kind of denial of the conscious time but in favour of the a-temporality of the unconscious: teens want everything and right now because “the death happens tomorrow”.  They look for recurrent novelties which give them the feeling of an excitement: “to be hyper” is the only way to survive. “The novelty is the condition of the sexual enjoyment” (Freud, 1920).

Secondly, the informational zapping which accelerates, through the permanent reception of short messages and news alerts, the time progress. This has clear and bad effects on the learning, on the concentration, on the whole knowledge acquisition as well as on the sustainability of efforts, and, more widely, on the socialisation abilities.  This also creates a kind of addictions.

Thirdly, this promotes or, more precisely maintains childish illusory and magical thoughts which could provide a fallacious ability of a change in personnel status as prompt and decisive as could appear the binge drinking phenomenon: the express drunkenness is aimed at not wasting time at socialising and at reaching intoxication and disinhibition with some partners in the same evening.

Finally, the computer key board looks like a magic reset and provides the feeling of full power to fantasise about alias or false characters, including all risks of disaffiliation for the weakest. This is the paradox offered by the social networks: thousands of virtual contacts but most of them are not able to provide the true elements of the human meeting which are composed of the glance, the skin, the behaviour, even the smell of the other. An example: the addiction of my Nice University students to Smartphone seems to be regarded as a vital habit: when it rings or even it vibrates, it impossible to let the other wait for an answer.

Conclusion (open to discussion)

Psychoanalytically speaking, all this looks like a denial of the fundamental asymmetry in all human relationships under the appearance of the differences’ valorisation and that of the moral claim for egalitarianism. Moreover, the mutation of the libidinal economy is no more based on the organization of the repression but moves to the one based on the exhibition of enjoyment. The adult “sexual” enjoyment is not even more the standard measure of other enjoyments but regresses to the unbinding and the preeminence of the death sexual drive aimed at, as Laplanche wrote, provoking the manifestation of an unbinding, a parcelling or a burst, whether at the social level or at that of the individual organism and which is the characteristic of the infantile sexual drive, an “endless quest and who does not know the appeasement”.


Jean-Luc Vannier is a French psychoanalyst based in Nice (French Riviera), and is full-time lecturer of psychoanalysis at Nice Sophia-Antipolis University, EDHEC Business School, Ipag Business School. He regularly writes for several French magazines and has his own columns. At the University of Côte d’Azur, he is the official Referent for the PPP (Personal and Professional Project) aimed at helping the students to work on their own identity and to define their job choices. Jean-Luc is an editorial board member of the Psychreg Journal of Psychology. You can follow him on Twitter @jlv06


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