Affiliated member of the WPA – World Psychiatric Association

Abstract Botbol, Michel

Key Lecture
Differential Psychopathology of Violence in Difficult Adolescents

Whereas there is a growing concern about the violence in adolescence, the results of the responses implemented to deal with it, are very often discouraging. The hypothesis of this intervention is that to look more closely into the psychic mechanisms underlying violence at this age is required to improve these outcomes.

Behind the common observation that violence is always an acting questioning the links between the violent subject and others, two opposed mechanisms can be described to define more precisely these violent acting

  • A Provocative Violence in which the adolescent is violent to obtain a response from the other, through the creation of a conflict of authority with him
  • A Destructive Violence in which the adolescent is violent to reject the other whenever his identity is dependent of the complete eradication of the other

In this lecture, we will try to show that these two types of violence are linked to the way the subject work through his adolescence and to the way he faces the stake of separation individuation process and the drastic change it induces in its balance between his investment of himself and his investment of the others.

We will show that to face the problem of adolescence’s violence we observe a current tendency to call up a “law logic” through “education and pedagogy of civility” or through the increasing use of zero tolerance perspectives. This approach is very efficient for many difficult adolescents, those who can take advantage of the conflict of authority to deal with this unbalance; but it does not meet the needs of those who are so threatened by the links that they are not accessible to the conflict of authority because their first need is to radically disregard the others.

The problem is that the adolescents of this second type are precisely those who are the more violent and the more difficult to control socially. For these adolescents, an alternative logic has to be found, based on the idea that it is necessary to create a “common third space” between them and the others before being able to use the “law logic” to limit their violence.

Prof., Emeritus of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (University of Western Brittany, Brest, France); Vice President of WADP, WPA Secretary for Scientific Publication 


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