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When “Minette” Gets Into the Kinship

Sophie Michon-Chassaing, Georges Gonzalez

Research framework: Pet animals often have a central role in the family, and can be a facilitator within a structure based on filiations. A link is established between the evolution of the family structure in which the individuation of family members is strengthened and a revaluation of the animal as a full member of the contemporary family.

Objectives: This article shows that while a subject’s implication in the production of a genogram which forces him or her to remember his/her own family history may provoke resistance, the psychic convocation of a link with an animal related to this history acts as a lever against such resistance.

Methodology: The data were collected over three years and are based on clinical observations across 20 groups of 12 people during training in psychogenealogy at a social work training centre.

Results: A basic instruction that is too implicit for oneself, but for which the animal makes it lose its negative connotation, leads to the hypothesis that an extension of the instruction to the nonhuman opens up the possibility to surpass oneself by conveying a reassuring attachment.

Conclusions: Recalling the animal’s inscription in the family structure favours construction of the identity of the subject. This feedback, by placing the family in the community of affects, acts as an operator of resilience concerning a genealogical content damaged by the wounds of the past.

Contributions: The contemporary family group suffers from many tensions, such as between frailty and anchorage, which is often encountered in divorce situations. All the same, kinship remains a resource for self-construction. The positive effects of the animal’s involvement during psychogenealogy sessions based on a representation of the family structure reveal that, like any other close person, this inscription contributes to the construction of oneself.