Françoise Dolto and the Other French School Conference

Online via Livestream Only


The French newspaper Le Monde announced the death of Françoise Dolto in August 1988 with an article that began: “She was France’s favourite granny, the only psychoanalyst whose language was accessible to everyone, the ‘wise granny’ everyone dreamt of.” The millions who listened to her weekly broadcast on national radio felt guided by her as parents, yet Dolto is curiously unknown in the English-speaking world. Dolto stands alongside Jacques Lacan as a leading light of the Other French school, whose theoretical base derives closely from Freud but proposes new ideas such as the paternal metaphor, the signifier-signified, the desiring subject, sexuation, the Other, and the Real Symbolic and Imaginary.

In this conference, we aim to reveal the rich conceptual developments she drew from her vast clinical practice, and hope to provide missing links between the Other French school and our psychoanalytic concepts as they currently stand.

About Françoise Dolto

Starting to work analytically as a Paediatrician in 1937, Dolto belongs to the second generation of French analysts, and like Winnicott, worked intensively in Paediatric liaison.  From the beginning of her career, she linked psychoanalytic theory with her own ideas about the body, its functioning and its psychic representations. Her book The Unconscious Body Image espouses a completely original view of the links between physical and psychic development, providing fresh insight into our understanding of psychosomatic symptoms and child development. Using numerous case studies drawn from her decades of work, Dolto shows both how parent-child interactions impact on the development of the unconscious body image, which forms the basis of the elaboration of thought and influences the functioning of the real body. She shows how psychic castration at each developmental stage (oral, anal, genital, latency and puberty) alters body images and influences the child’s socialisation, thereby filling a significant gap in psychoanalytic understanding of the mental integration of social law.  

Main Speakers

Françoise Dolto: The missing link between Lacan and Object Relations
Sharmini Bailly (British Psychotherapy Foundation and Essex Partnership University Trust, UK)

The integrity of the body image and its relationship to psychosomatics in the work of Françoise Dolto
Catalina Bronstein (British Psychoanalytical Society and University College London, UK)

Françoise Dolto and the social place of psychoanalysis
Catherine Dolto (Françoise Dolto Archives, France)

Dolto and Winnicott: where they meet
Angela Joyce (British Psychoanalytical Society, UK)


Lionel Bailly
British Psychoanalytical Society, North East London NHS Foundation Trust,
and University College London, UK

Liz Allison
British Psychoanalytical Society, and University College London, UK

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