Sunday guest, Christophe André, the anti-guru of psychiatry: “Life is tragic, we must take happiness seriously”

Sunday guest, Christophe André, the anti-guru of psychiatry: “Life is tragic, we must take happiness seriously”

Christophe André, le 20 mars, à Montpellier, la ville de son enfance. Midi Libre – GIACOMO ITALIANO

With "Esteem yourself and forget yourself", psychiatrist Christophe André publishes a primer on self-esteem, one of his favorite themes. Last Tuesday, the amphitheater of the Émile-Zola media library, in Montpellier, was too small to accommodate "a rock star" who distrusts fame, and hopes to help people live with simple concepts. We are not in Freud and Lacan, a little in Montaigne, Hugo, Chateaubriand and above all in “real life”. For Christophe André, it began in Occitanie: he was born in Montpellier and studied in Toulouse.

And at each meeting, it's the same thing? Christophe André, a long, friendly sixty-year-old with a soft and calm voice, has an almost embarrassed smile. The day before, Montpellier residents stormed the 182 seats in the amphitheater of the Émile-Zola media library, in Montpellier, too narrow to allow everyone to hear him debate with Nathalie Blanc, professor of psychology at Paul-Valéry University.

The next day, he was at Fnac in Lyon, then in Bordeaux, this Monday he is expected in Paris… for the promotional tour of his latest book, "Est’s’s’forget" (1), released in January, already a best-seller and future long-seller, long-term commercial success say the booksellers.

A phenomenon ? "Yes ! He has his audience, his fans, when he releases a book, it’s a big deal. It is among the best sellers in the humanities, and competes with the big names in the novel, Joël Dicker and Guillaume Musso", confides Marie-Aurélie Buffet, director of development Sauramps libraries.

With "Esteem yourself and forget yourself", an alphabet book rich in reflections that help you to live, the author has chosen a form "very comfortable which avoids a plan", and solves the puzzle inherent in any book "how to do it fit so many ideas into such a small volume ?" The psychiatrist plows through the themes that are dear to him: "Self-esteem", "happiness" and"anxiety", does he experience when he is asked to go to the' rsquo;essential". "My belief is that life is a tragedy, we will suffer and we will die. That’s why I take the question of happiness seriously. It’s vital", he slips. So he gets annoyed "to hear about the dictatorship of happiness".

Christophe André in bookstores is almost thirty years of success. The story begins in 1995 with 'The Fear of Others" a first work sold in 50,000 copies which propelled him to become a leader in cognitive behavioral therapies, these toolboxes from the United States which undermine the idea that one must spend hours a mute psychologist to move forward. Around forty successful works followed, including  "Imperfects, Free and Happy" in 2006, and "Meditate day after day”, five years later.

"He was one of the first to introduce the use of mindfulness meditation in psychotherapy", also reports Wikipedia, which tells us that Christophe André was born in Montpellier to'"a sailor father converted into a sales representative in stationery and& ;rsquo;a schoolteacher mother", and that he presented his medical thesis in Toulouse in 1980.

"I came to see a rock star"

The "method" Christophe André combines therapeutic work with a professional with a necessary and "demanding" personal handling, a "invitation to action" which requires "building up your self-esteem" : "If things aren't going well, stop complaining and do the job, take action!"

The public joins, like Eva, teacher, and Carlos, physiotherapist, who were waiting for a dedication, after the conference to Émile-Zola: "With few words, he manages to say a lot…" She "read her books" and meditates "with his voice". A sentence caught a few minutes earlier in the exchange with Nathalie Blanc will enrich her reflection: "Emotions are the markers of our needs".

Christian, who came to see the "rock star of psychology", left with two signed books, one for him, one for his psychotherapist, "a wonderful woman". And one of the &quot ;favorite quotes" by Christophe André, a phrase from the American actor Groucho Marx: "In every old person, there is a young person who wonders what happened to him. 

"I'm lucky. I have a real audience. It’s very touching. It’s also a responsibility, I take it very seriously, you have to give. I want my books to help people", indicates the doctor, ex-"psychiatrist" in the behavioral and cognitive psychotherapy department of Sainte-Anne hospital in Paris, which he left four years ago, at age 62.

"After my lung cancer, I realized that I loved my job, but even more so life. I wasn't going to die on stage like Molière", he says without pathos, in these ellipses that he likes, often to tell an anecdote, seen, heard or experienced because "psychology is everywhere" and he is "like everyone else, it reassures people who might idealize me. I'm just a doctor, I'm not trying to collect fervor".

"It allows us to give another image of psychology"

The pitfall of pride was undoubtedly avoided a long time ago, when at the Sainte Anne hospital, & ;quot;people came to me to ask me to be their master. Master of what ? I saw that notoriety could give power". He is wary of it, with supporting arguments in his book. However, he has not escaped the label of "meditation guru". "It’s the rent of notoriety", he calmly analyzes today.

At the release of the "Black Book of Psychoanalysis", a disruptive collective work of which he was not a signatory, in 2005, the attacks resumed: "I found myself facing hostile rooms, the sinister Miller brothers even tried to make people believe that I was anti-Semitic…" Gérard Miller, the psychoanalyst accused of rape and sexual assault by dozens of women ? "Everyone knew it , it’were rumors…"

Christophe André is not a Freudian psychiatrist, "not very brilliant grandfather of psychiatry who knowingly falsified his results, who founded the bases of psychotherapy, which has entered into mythology. It’yet it was thanks to him that he studied medicine in Toulouse, the city of his adolescence: "French and philosophy appealed to me more than maths and physics. But I did a second C, with Latin, Greek and German because my parents wanted me to get into the right classes. I was later seen in an engineering school, until I discovered Freud in my final year. He had a hell of a pen when he told his case stories. I wanted to be a psychologist.

Christophe André is even less of a Lacanian, "an odious guru, who gave seminars where all of the worldly Parisians flocked to listen to his rantings, who invented the "short course" to rotate the cash drawer… I almost quit my studies because of him.

"Women’self-esteem lower than that of men"

"You have to be careful who you trust, don't take psychoanalysts as human models!", he implores.< em> "That's why I'm obsessed with the idea of ​​telling stories where I put myself in check", and drawing in that of others: "The great novelists have told us many things, which I would have difficulty expressing, Christian Bobin, Victor Hugo, Montaigne, the say in one line. This patchwork seems to me to be the essence of psychology, it’s not just science! And no more "brain juice".

Nathalie Blanc is won over: "It has a media aura which perhaps allows us to give another image of psychology, which is less frightening, which does not have superpowers, which is reassuring, serene, and at home. reach of all. He does it with great humility and modesty, it's just perfect", greets the teacher from Montpellier, where Christophe André also has memories  : "I lived there until the age of six, I came back there in the summer for years. My grandfather, Cévenol, had a cabin on the beach between Palavas and Maguelone. He called it Sputnik, he was a communist, he read La Marseillaise. It’was a happy mess… Later, I did a year of internship at the Montpellier University Hospital. "I am Occitan", concludes this adopted Breton.

At the letter B of his alphabet book, the B of happiness, there is also"benevolence" : "It’is a magnificent word, which has been trivialized, that’ it was confused with sentimentality. You have to be nice, caring, but of course you shouldn't let yourself be bothered! Life is complicated, we are capable of making ourselves suffer, so we must always make this little effort of kindness. And it’s the same for self-esteem. Here we go again.

And again with the B in Barbie, "muse of a detestable lifestyle that is harmful to women’s self-esteem&quot ;, worries this father of three daughters who is delighted that "the grip is loosening on sexist clichés" but regrets that "the self-esteem of women remains lower than that of men : It’ there's no reason.

"Esteem oneself and forget oneself", ed. Odile Jacob, 22.90 euros. I subscribe to read more

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