Who was Maud Mannoni-Van der Spoel and what did she contribute to the field of psychology?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Maud Mannoni (born Van der Spoel) was a French psychoanalyst. She was born in 1923. She worked with Jacques Lacan during the big collapse of the French psychoanalytic movement in 1953, and she was a member of the Belgian Psychoanalytic society. She is mainly known in the psychoanalysis community for her work with children, particularly with children with cognitive impediments and with children who exhibited psycho-pathological traits. 

She is also known for challenging the current notions of children with cognitive stalling, and she also worked with psychotic and autistic teenagers. In her book  The Mentally Challenged Child and His Mother (1964) she blames dysfunctional dynamics in the family as the cause for mental retardation; she defended the idea that this mental condition was a product of bad parenthood rather than a birth defect. 

To continue with her non-traditional methods of examining troubled children, she founded a living facility which she named the École expérimentale de Bonneuil. She also founded the Center for psychoanalytical training and research, or  CFRP.  Mannoni also conducted studies on the colonial state of mind and often compared the mind of a colonial with that of a child, or someone who, in the midst of depending on others, renders himself as weak as at-risk children. In all, Mannoni is one of the highest contributors to the field as one of the few female psychoanalysts who conducted in-depth and hands-on inquiry and research on at-risk minors. Perhaps in today's legally-bound world of research Mannoni would have never been able to conduct non-traditional studies on children, but her findings and writings are quite inquisitive and lead to further research questions for future and current psychoanalysts today.

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