The French Adolescence: A Psychoanalytic Perspective (Introduction)

The French Adolescence: A Psychoanalytic Perspective (Introduction)

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 first part here. 


It has occurred to me that masturbation is the one great habit, that is a “primary addiction”, and that the other addictions, for alcohol, morphine, tobacco, etc., only enter into life as a substitute and replacement for it.
Sigmund Freud, Letters to Wilhelm Fliess, 22 December 1897.

France is the European country where the proportion of adults who have ever used cannabis is the most important according to a 2014 study realised for the “Health Barometer”. It regroups facts and figures from the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addictions (OFDT), that of the National Prevention and Health Education Institute (INPE) and that of the Defence and Citizenship Day. The latter, which is organised by the Ministry of defence as a replacement of the former compulsory military duty, allows every year to bring together around 25, 000 youth, male and female aged 17or 18, in order to assess their state of health and their level of education.

The main trends of these studies show an increase of the cannabis consumption as a whole, either in experiments or in more frequent use, even if one notices a rise scored among adults and a slight decline among the 17 years old.  The phenomenon is coupled with the alcoholisation and an increased of stimulants, but one observes a stability for other illicit goods throughout the decade.

Before asking ourselves “What does cannabis mean for the French youth?” (III), and then, possibly considering the change of the meaning of smoking cannabis for the French teenagers among their new addictions (IV), we should start with some reminders about psychoanalysis and introduce what we consider to be the analytic approach of the adolescence (I) and recall the major symptoms of this period of life (II).


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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