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Dr Kaye Cederman


The Desire of the Child

This paper was motivated by my experiences of working as a psychoanalyst with a responsibility for children in the current era, where economic, techno-scientific and political factors generate both “helplessness” and “the delusional ideal of unprecedented freedom: the possibility of self-invention” (Dessal (2017, p. 119). Drawing first upon Feher-Gurewich (1999), there is reflection upon the paucity of current literature underpinning a Lacanian approach to child analysis. This is augmented by looking at how analysts, including Mathelin (1999) and Dolto (2013), reflect the tension between the child and adult clinic in psychoanalytic praxis. Some discussion e.g. Fonagay (2003), considers the inconsistency between the epistemology utilised by Lacanian psychoanalysis and most of current social science.

The paper then touches on theorists working from a Lacanian perspective, who inform my own child clinic. This includes key insights around the ‘desire of the child’ formulated by Dolto, Mannoni, Mathelin, Rogers and Rodriguez. The paper concludes with a clinical discussion of Ana, as I call her, an 8 year old girl who is tormented by anxiety; she is chronically constipated, has trouble sleeping and (who despite being highly articulate) reflects the position of a much younger child. We trace her movement as she gradually distances herself from the desire of the parent. The paper concludes by arguing that the contemporary child clinic has specific challenges in terms of engaging with the desire of the child.


Kaye is a Registered Practitioner member of the Association of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in Ireland (APPI). She practices psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in private practice working with children, adults, and teenagers.  Research Associate and Lecturer, M.Phil. Programme, Gender & Women's Studies,Trinity College, Dublin. Member Centre for Lacanian Analysis (CLA), and cartel of Lacanian School, Aotearoa.