8 September 2023

Psychotherapist Isabelle Filliozat, in Paris, April 12, 2023.

She would have preferred a garden but the weather is turning to rain. The proposal to have a coffee at the Drugstore Publicis enchants her, even if this trendy brasserie no longer has much to do with the place she once knew. His father worked as a psychologist in the Publicis group, responsible for conducting market research. Isabelle Filliozat, 65, ate her first burger at this restaurant – “the first in Paris”. This April afternoon, it’s unusual, she has some free time. The next day, she took part in a round table on school organized by the Paris City Hall. Two days later, it is at the town hall of Marseille that she is expected. And interview requests are pouring in. “All my life I’ve been overwhelmed, she smiled. But here it is a bit difficult. »

This sixty-year-old with a radiant face framed by long gray hair, popess of positive education in France, author of bestsellers and sought-after speaker, has for months been fiercely attacked by psychiatrists and psychoanalysts opposed to this “pseudoscience” that would make the parents feel guilty and make kids restless and intolerant of frustration.

The psychologist and psychoanalyst Caroline Goldman, who has become the leader of the “anti”, never fails to recall in her numerous interviews how much the work of Isabelle Filliozat is – she posted it as a comment on Instagram – “confused, rude, peremptory and opportunistic”. Petitions, interpellation of the Council of Europe, “one” of newspapers, morning radio … Over the weeks, the debate has grown and turned into a caricatural confrontation between two camps, that of the authoritarian parents on the side of Caroline Goldman and that of the permissive, embodied by Isabelle Filliozat.

“Resources rather than limits”

“I don’t understand this violence”replies the interested party, overwhelmed by the extent of the controversy and who notes that “even the journalists have become aggressive”. So she explains again. Positive parenting developed by various Anglo-Saxon psychologists, which she has been popularizing for ten years as the ideal method of education, consists in providing children “resources rather than limits”.

Based on neuroscience, the psychotherapist offers a method that is supposed to make children happy and soothe parents. “The slightest exchange of smiles with a child literally builds his brain”she says, assuming to throw away the good old psychoanalysis.

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