Françoise Dolto

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Françoise Dolto
Born Françoise Marette
(1908-11-06)November 6, 1908
Died August 25, 1988(1988-08-25) (aged 79)
Pulmonary fibrosis
Resting place Bourg-la-Reine
Nationality French
Fields Pediatrics, psychoanalysis

Françoise Dolto (French: [dɔlto]; 1908–1988), was a French pediatrician and psychoanalyst.


Born as Françoise Marette, she was the daughter of an affluent far-right royalist family of traditional Catholics in Paris. Her Alsatian mother, Suzanne Demmler, was the daughter of an engineer, and Henri Marette, her father, was also a polytechnic engineer who became an industrialist. She was the fourth child of a family of seven. Her brother Jacques Marette (1922-1984), was French Postmaster (minister of Posts and Telecommunications) from 1962-1967.

As a baby, she was entrusted to an Irish nurse who made much of her, to the point that her parents had to speak English to get her to smile. Her parents discharged the nurse. Dolto's very traditional upbringing which Elizabeth Roudinesco described as "very catholic, extreme right-wing", reflected the values then current of Charles Maurras.

Her personal tutor was trained in the methods of Friedrich Froebel. When she was eight her uncle and godfather Pierre Demmler died in World War I. Whe she was twelve she was very affected by the death of her older sister Jacqueline, her mother's favorite child. Her mother sank into a depression and accused her of not praying hard enough for her sister's life. Dolto's mother felt that a girl had no other prospects than marriage and therefore forbade her to pursue her studies. At sixteen she had to confront her mother, who did not want her to pass her baccalaureate because she would then no longer be marriageable. Nevertheless, Dolto attended the the Lycée Molière in Paris, graduating class in section "philosophy" of 1924-1925. In 1930 she obtained a nursing degree. A year later, she began her medical studies with her brother Philip, "paying for her studies with the money she earns".[1]

Françoise Dolto was the mother of Carlos (1943–2008), a singer, Grégoire (1944-), an engineer, and Catherine (1946-).


In 1932, on the recommendation of Marc Schlumberger, she met psychoanalyst René Laforgue (1934-1937), who had already begun to treat her brother Philip a year earlier. She participated in the beginnings of French Freudianism, going into analysis with Laforgue.

In 1942 she collaborated with eugenics proponent Alexis Carrel.[2]

Dolto worked with babies and children, notably in their early experience and usage of language through their body, with the mother-baby dyad, and with observation and understanding of the means of communication used by children with learning or social disabilities.

She worked with Jacques Lacan to co-create the "École Freudienne de Paris", and said that children have a language before the language (with the body). She has contributed to the question of the unconscious body image, and influenced among others the work of Maud Mannoni.

Dolto was opposed to abortion law.[3]


Dolto contracted pulmonary fibrosis in 1984. She died on 25 August 1988 and was buried in the cemetery at Bourg-la-Reine alongside her husband Boris. This is also the burial place of their son, the singer Carlos, who died in 2008. On her tomb stone is inscribed: "Have no fear!"[4]


  • Psychanalyse et pédiatrie, medical thesis, 1971
  • Le Cas Dominique, éd. du Seuil, Paris, 1971; engl. Dominique: Analysis of an Adolescent, Souvenir Press, 1974
  • L'Évangile au risque de la psychanalyse (interviewed by Gérard Sévérin, philosopher, theologian, psychanalyst), éd. Jean-Pierre Délarge, 1977
  • Au jeu du désir, éd. du Seuil, Paris, 1981
  • Séminaire de psychanalyse d’enfants (coop. Louis Caldaguès), éd. du Seuil, Paris, 1982, ISBN 2-02-006274-7
  • Sexualité féminine, éd. Scarabée/A. M. Métailié, 1982
  • L'image inconsciente du corps, éd. du Seuil, Paris, 1984. ISBN 2-02-018302-1
  • Séminaire de psychanalyse d’enfants (coop. Jean-François de Sauverzac), éd. du Seuil, Paris, 1985, ISBN 2-02-008980-7
  • Solitude, éd. Vertiges, Paris, 1985, ISBN 2-86896-026-X
  • La Cause des enfants, éd. Robert Laffont, Paris, 1985, ISBN 2-221-04285-9
  • Enfances, Paris, 1986
  • Libido féminine, éd. Carrère, Paris, 1987
  • L'Enfant du miroir (with Juan David Nasio), éd. Rivages, Paris, 1987, ISBN 2-86930-056-5
  • La Cause des adolescents, éd. Robert Laffont, Paris, 1988
  • Quand les parents se séparent (coop. Inès de Angelino), éd. du Seuil, Paris, 1988, ISBN 2-02-010298-6; engl. When Parents Separate, David R Godine Pub, 1997
  • L'Échec scolaire, éd. Vertiges du Nord, 1989
  • Autoportrait d'une psychanalyste, éd. du Seuil, Paris, 1989
  • Paroles pour adolescents ou le complexe du homard, éd. Hattier, 1989
  • Lorsque l'enfant paraît, éd. du Seuil, Paris, 1990
  • Les Étapes majeures de l'enfance, éd. Gallimard, Paris, 1994
  • Les Chemins de l'éducation, éd. Gallimard, Paris, 1994
  • La Difficulté de vivre, éd. Gallimard, Paris, 1995
  • Tout est langage, éd. Gallimard, Paris, 1995
  • Le sentiment de soi : aux sources de l'image et du corps, éd. Gallimard, Paris, 1997
  • Le Féminin, éd. Gallimard, Paris, 1998
  • La vague et l'océan : séminaire sur les pulsions de mort (1970-1971), éd. Gallimard, Paris, 2003
  • Lettres de jeunesse : correspondance, 1913-1938, éd. Gallimard, Paris; revized and augmented in 2003, ISBN 2-07-073261-4
  • Une vie de correspondances : 1938-1988, éd. Gallimard, Paris, 2005, ISBN 2-07-074256-3
  • Une psychanalyste dans la cité. L'aventure de la Maison verte, éd. Gallimard, Paris, 2009, ISBN 978-2-07-012257-8

Secondary literature[edit]

  • Jean-François de Sauverzac, Françoise Dolto itinéraire d'une psychanalyste, éd. Aubier, 1993, pocket edition: Flammarion 2008, ISBN 2-08-121798-8
  • Jean-Claude Liaudet, Dolto expliquée aux parents, éd. L’Archipel, Paris, 1998. Traductions : A criança explicada aos pais [Segundo Dolto], éd. Pergaminho, Cascais (Portugal), 2000 ; Dolto para padres, Plaza & Janès editores, Barcelona (Espagne), 2000
  • Bernard Martino, Le bébé est une personne, éd. Balland, Paris, 1985
  • Françoise Dolto, aujourd’hui présente, in Actes du colloque de l’Unesco, pp. 14–17 janvier 1999, éd. Gallimard, Paris, 2000
  • Catherine Dolto, Il y a 10 ans la psychanalyste des enfants disparaissait Catherine Dolto-Tolitch parle de l’après Dolto, Ed. Lien social, Numéro 467, 17 décembre 1998.
  • Theory and Practise in Child Psychoanalysis: An Introduction to Francoise Dolto's Work, ed. by Guy Hall, Francoise Hivernel, Sian Morgan, Karnac Books, 2009, ISBN 1-85575-574-2
  • René-Jean Bouyer: Les Mémoires d'un bébé : Un siècle d'éducation de l'enfant de Pasteur à Dolto, Jean-Claude Gawsewitch, 2010, ISBN 2-35013-232-3

Critical literature[edit]

  • Guy Baret, Comment rater l’éducation de son enfant avec Françoise Dolto. Éd. Ramsay, 2003
  • Le livre noir de la psychanalyse. Vivre, penser et aller mieux sans Freud. direction by Catherine Meyer, édition Les Arènes, Paris, 2005
  • Daniela Lumbroso, Françoise Dolto, la vie d'une femme libre, édition Plon, Paris, 2007
  • Didier Pleux :
    • Génération Dolto, éditions Odile Jacob, Paris, 2008
    • Françoise Dolto, la déraison pure., Preface by Michel Onfray. Éditions Autrement, Collection « Universités populaires et Cie », 2013
    • La Révolution du divan: Pour une psychologie existentielle. Éditions Odile Jacob, 2015
  • Sabine Gritt Un foetus mal léché.Trois ans avec Dolto., éditions sciences humaines, 2015


  1. ^ Élisabeth Roudinesco, Histoire de la psychanalyse en France, Paris, Seuil, 1986, p. 169.
  2. ^ Joy Damousi et Mariano Ben Plotkin, Psychoanalysis and Politics: Histories of Psychoanalysis Under Conditions of Restricted Political Freedom, Oxford University Press, 2012, pages 42-43
  3. ^ Françoise Dolto, Les retentissements imperceptibles de l'avortement, « Sexualité féminine, libido, érotisme, frigidité », Livre de Poche, p. 349-357
  4. ^ Guillerault, Gérard (2008). Comprendre Dolto: Une éthique positive du désir. Armand Colin. p. 38.