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.