Archives par mot-clé : Rite

Gilles Raveneau : Contribution of Rites to Family Substitution

Using ethnographic research in two socially-oriented children’s centers (MECS), this paper investigates how rite and ritualization can help fill in for the family. We look at the conditions that foster the appearance and use of rites and observe how these can serve as tools to promote social inclusion and participation, in combination with moral and educational culture. We hypothesize that “wild” psychologization of problems by professionals and the nearly exclusive recourse to clinical psychologists to regulate difficulties in such institutions leads to an under-valuation of the interest and effectiveness of rituals, in favor of the “talking cure” alone.

Adolescence, T. 31 n°1, pp. 169-179.


What does initiation mean in the vocabulary of Christian theology ? Is this word the equivalent of the initiation rites of ancient religions, whose first concern is to insert young people into the reality of adult social life ? Christianity offers another vision of this issue : initiation opens one to a new life, the Kingdom of God, and this is accomplished through the sacraments. By affirming this, the Church provides a key for evaluating the specific relationship between the present world (« nature ») and the irruption of the new world (the « Kingdom of God ») : nature is the sign of grace. Rupture as much as newness, initiation establishes a relation of otherness between the two domains, as a sign is entirely oriented towards the otherness of the reality that it must designate.


The rite is a social act which is programmed and repetitive. The ritual is a sum of organized gestures and words which when spoken, are above our means of human understanding. The rite is a symbolic act which allows each one of us to find a place as a subject in relation to the world and one owns world. The sacrament is a meeting point between two aspirations and is concerned by all the questions regarding the teenage world : the wish of God to share his life with man and the wish of man who acknowledges that he is meeting God and will confirm it by a gesture in that case the Confirmation.


The sacrament of Confirmation is one of the three sacraments together with the Christening and the Eucharist which builds the Christian initiation in the Catholic Church. This was the concern of a young teenager who went for psychoanalysis and it occurred that the religious Rite was actually questioned in its interaction with the process of young adulthood. On one hand, the confirmation can be seen as a symbolic act because of the reference to the Holy Spirit and in the fact that it includes some special gestures and words which will allow the confirmed to be integrated into the Christian community. This marks a maturation of the Christian faith. It allows the Confirmed to make its own appropriation of the questions of life, death and find his (or her) identity. It also marks the position of the confirmed in relation with his (or her) forefathers. It brings a support by the representatives of the same faith who are passing this inheritance. This sacrament can also bring new responsibilities. On the other hand, it does not take into account the physical transformations in the teenager who has to integrate his or her gender. After all, it seems that it is set in ideal world.


Should the rite necessarily exhibit itself, at the risk of provoking those who do not share the same convictions and inciting violence ? Before answering the question, one must first recall that the rite is a sexual practice in the sense psychoanalysis gives sexuality. It is to ideal sexuality what coitus is to genital sexuality, and pleasure of the anal or oral type is to pre-genital or drive sexuality. This is why the symptomatic practice which is closest to the group rite and which is most able to illuminate it profoundly is not obsessive practice or the behavior of the masses, but perverse practice. The analogies between this and the rite are indeed striking, and many ritual excesses are equivalent to forms of perversion : this is the case of exhibitionism, of which there is so much talk nowadays. The surest way to avoid such overflowing is to push the comparison between the two practices as far as possible, and restore to the rite its own signification, which is to be speech enshrined within codified practice.


The purpose of this article is to study the work of conversion along with the dialectic entailed by any ritual phenomenon. The subject is obliged to change, but without obliterating the decision that falls to him. The author treats the effect of conversion as an active part with regard to which every subject confronted with the rite is to make a pronouncement. The conversion is manifested in the search for another way of saying, which can translate both the correspondence and the gap between the promise of new status and the postulate of immutable subjectal bases. For if the conversion is to enable the rite to work, it also necessitates an effect of falling concurrent with the sifting of a certain relation with oneself and the world.


Having recalled the definition of the rite not only from the anthropological, but also from a psychoanalytical point of view and the articulation between these two aspects, the author of this article seeks, first in a general way, then by focusing more specifically on adolescent processes, to make a distinction between ritual and rite. He relates the first to conservation and unbinding, while placing the second on the side of depressiveness and subjectivation, with a call for progression in a temporal interval. The rite appears to belong essentially to the symbolic function, as a waiting solution, an area of reassurance which, from a dynamic point of view has a ludic dimension through a wish to break with repetitive mechanisms. The rite, at the crossroads of circular time and linear time appears as a « meta-stable » state which seeks not so much to make sense as to avoid a too sudden exit from the world of childhood.