Hug-Hellmuth or the Impasses of an Objectifying Conception of the Infantile

The Will to Uni-potence
By Marie Lenormand

As the first psychoanalyst working with children, Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth took a special interest in their play. Her theoretical and clinical work – ostensibly in the service of Freudian orthodoxy – as well as her tragic and unique life – her theoretical deception with A Young Girl’s Diary, her murder by her nephew (her main patient) – remain fairly unknown. In this article, we will study the echoes of these two aspects – life and work – given that in both cases, the Hug-Hellmuth’s attempt to objectify the infantile had tragic consequences: for the therapist on the one hand, insofar as this conception led Hug-Hellmuth to her plan of imposture and a subjective splitting, and for the patient on the other hand, insofar as the cure was thus conceived of as a combination of inquisition and trust. This study of a pioneer’s writings allows us to grasp the decisive impact of the conception of the infantile on the treatment of children.

  • Hug-Hellmuth
  • psychoanalysis
  • child
  • imposture
  • play
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