The debate between Boris Cyrulnik and five readers of Psychologies

For years, Boris Cyrulnik has been all of our fights, of all our commitments, and we dragged him into funny adventures. Be the first shrink to cover our newspaper in 2003, talk with Arielle Dombasle in 2008, or accompany us on our first cruise last May! With each request, he answered "yes", with that smile, this humanity and this kindness that characterize him. So when we asked him if he was willing to meet readers of Psychologies for an informal and improvised interview to celebrate our three hundredth issue, he said "yes" again.

Violaine Gelly

Appointment was given at the Evergreen Hotel, a stone's throw from our premises, in Levallois-Perret, in the Hauts-de-Seine. Catherine Monin, 27 years old, economic journalist in Paris; Clarisse Herbillon, 28, a student in social psychology in Geneva; Élizabeth Leguern, 57, head manger in Paris; Véronique Remiche, 49, psychotherapist in Bastogne, Belgium; and Laurent Pasteur, 54, business manager in Paris, waited around a coffee. Some intimidated, others less, some with a list of questions in hand, others confident in their desire to improvise. There followed two hours of warm, informal discussion. Shame, theme of his latest book, resilience, attachment, personal queries ... Boris Cyrulnik answered questions from his interviewers for a day with warmth and attention. They came out delighted.

Laurent: Your last book talks about shame, about our difficulty in talking about the hardships we've faced. Now I find myself facing someone who is in this case. Should I push him to speak, with all that is hard and violent, so that he is free from this weight. Or is it better to leave an unsaid, more protective but less liberating?

Boris Cyrulnik: The things we can not say are the things we fear others can not hear. What is our choice when we are ashamed of something: talking, at the risk of making others feel uncomfortable? Or to shut up, at the risk of putting ourselves at odds? In both cases, we risk altering the relationship. So we prefer to say, "It does not matter, I turn the page." Except we never turn the page. We are silent, that's all. But we can die of not saying.

Véronique: In one of your previous books, I remember ..., you write: "I will always have to go forward, never cry, never complain, do not turn around, it was so far my survival strategy, like all those who engage in a process of resilience."This sentence made me feel that being resilient is not turning around, always moving forward, and maybe not going into this past and not contacting our monsters. well understood?

BC: When I was a child, I did not go to school, I did not have the opportunity to go, otherwise I would have been arrested and I would be dead. I did not know how to read, I did not know how to write, but I was kept by people who had Bibles at home, and I looked at the pictures One of them, of Gustave Doré, represented Loth fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah while his wife, disobeying God's instructions, turned to look and was transformed into a statue of salt.For me, child, it was the salt of tears.And in my child's mind, the moral of the history has become: to turn on our misfortunes, it is dangerous, but that is a sentence of denial, not a phrase of resilience Denial is protective, it is neurotic but protective I needed to practice denial so as not to be trapped in the past, not to be afraid all the time, not to suffer all the time. So, that's what I practiced for a long time, way too long. I was in survival, I could not do otherwise. This sentence of neurotic denial organized a huge part of my life and stopped as soon as I felt less vulnerable, less neurotic. Only then, I was able to look back on my childhood and say, "Well, it happened to me, what am I going to do with that? to submit, will I continue to blind myself, will I continue to flee, or will I face what has happened to me? " That day, I started a process of resilience.


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