Based on personal experience in a residential setting for adolescent boys within special youth care, the author connects the ‘being difficult to guide’ label of some youngsters, which often results in exclusion from care, to a ‘not wanting’ on the one hand and a ‘being different’ on the other. From within a psychoanalytic perspective both aspects are linked through two clinical fagments with, respectively, an ignorance of the primary function of a residential institution, and, the exclusion of the subjective dimension in care. Instead of a global pedagogic project based on a generalised discourse of the ‘problem youngster’, the author pleads for a clinical orientation in the work, whereby the institution traces the path of each adolescent as subject, case by case.
Reflecting on the three symposia recently organised by Idesça in cooperation with the Gezelschap voor Psychoanalyse en Psychotherapie, the author queries the status of so-called “small case-studies”. With reference to (i) his own clinical experience; (ii) so-called small Freudian case-studies (in contrast with Freud’s case-studies of Dora, The Ratman, The Wolfman, Little Hans and Schreber); and (iii) the short stories of the Belgian writer Peter Verhelst (Mondschilderingen [“mouth paintings”] (2002)), it is argued that a small Freudian clinical fragment bears witness to (i) the enigmatic presence of the clinician with respect to the sudden appearance of the unconscious; (ii) the use of a certain style and a certain measure; (iii) the circumvention of imaginary reality; and (iv) the clinical structure of fantasy.