Autism Scandal

  • A controversy has broken out in French psychoanalytic circles around a documentary on autism by filmmaker Sophie Robert. Her documentary Le Mur (or The Wall) includes interviews with a number of prominent Lacanian analysts in which they discuss their perspectives on autism. The film can be viewed on YouTube (in French, with English subtitles) here. The film is deeply critical of the (Lacanian) psychoanalytic approach, which it opposes to a behavioural treatment known as PECS. It has provoked a legal challenge by a number of the analysts filmed – Eric Laurent, Alexandre Stevens and Esthela Solano Suarez – each members of the École de la Cause Freudienne, who have accused Roberts of misrepresenting their views by “cutting and distorting” the clips in which they feature. More on the backstory can be found (in French, from here and (in English, from the New York Times) here


  • UPDATE – 26th January: A court in Lille has ruled that the film be banned after the complaints of the above mentioned psychoanalysts were upheld. The court noted that extracts from the interviews “undermined their image and reputation in distorting the meaning of their theories” (my translation). The judge ruled that the extracts from the film which feature the interviews “must be removed”. The judge also specified that the film must be “removed from the internet” – notably from the site of the ‘ Autistes sans frontières’ (‘Autistics without borders’) until it has been re-edited, and levied a fine of €100 for each day this is delayed.  The filmmaker, Sophie Robert, has said through her lawyer that she will appeal. More on this development can be read (in French) here.


  • If you are in London in February and want to hear Alexandre Stevens discuss the issue in person, check out his talk at the London Society of the New Lacanian School, ‘Autism and Psychoanalysis’, on Saturday 4th February at 2pm. Full details here


  • Readers of Lacan who recognise the name of Stuart Schneiderman – Lacan’s former student and psychoanalyst-turned life-coach – may also be interested to read his thoughts on the controversy here.


 Other News

  • Gérard Miller’s documentary Rendez-vous chez Lacan, which was broadcast on France 3 last September at the 30th anniversary of Lacan’s death, will be out on DVD (with English subtitles!) in February. It can be ordered from the director’s site at The DVD contains bonus material in the form of an interview with Judith Miller, Jacques-Alain Miller and the director’s viewpoint (each 14mins). Total cost, including shipping outside France, is €27.00 (around $35/£22.50). 


  • Catch Lisa Appignanesi’s BBC Radio 4 documentary on the Freud-Jung split, broadcast earlier this month, on the BBC iPlayer here.


  • Lacanian psychoanalyst Bernard Burgoyne will be giving the second of his four talks on topology, Secrets of Space, on Saturday 28th January at Tate Modern in London. Here are the details and how to get tickets.


  • From February 24th-26th Lacanian Compass will be hosting its Clinical Study Days series on The Psychoanalytic Act at Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus, New York. The event is open to all. More details can be found here.