Interview with Marie-Rose Moro

atlas2-200Next to the Cochin hospital, La maison de Solenn is open 24 hours for adolescents. Immersed in a glass booth, the building is flooded in a luminous transparency. Marie-Rose Moro juggles with a busy schedule in her office. Psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, head of the Cochin hospital and the Avicenne de Bobigny hospital, this woman full of dynamism is the main representative of the transcultural clinic in France. To better deal with the suffering of adolescents and their families, she encourages a better understanding of the culture of his patients with a therapeutic practice based on alterity.


Is there a particular suffering among adolescents of North African origin living in France ?

Their symptoms are the same of the other adolescents. In contrast, we can say that it is not easy being the children of migrants in France today when they come from the countries of the Maghreb. We must therefore work on the relationship between parents and children, read this malaise at multiple levels.

There are many researches on this issue. Especially the study by Malia Mansouri on children of North African origin who participated in the riots in the suburbs ( "Révoltés postcoloniales au cœur de l' hexagone" 2013 Le Monde prize for the university research). It was found that these young people have a disillusioned love with France that does not offer them the same opportunities that it gives to others. In a transgenerational way they carry a weight of colonization that’s not yet overcome, they suffer discrimination and substantial problems of identification.


Do you think it's easier for young people?

Yes, without a doubt, and this has been highlighted in the work of Sara Skandri, "Les Mille et une voix de Shahrazade" (La pensée sauvage.) The female adolescents of North African origin are generally better than boys. The girls are certainly less free than the boys but they have more freedom in the head. Fighting against a brother or father is possible, but who can the boys take it? In addition, it appears that the boys fail more easily and more often than the girls. When they want to succeed in anything, in fact, they do it very well. The girls who come to the talks speak voluntarily, they have a habit of being in the mediation, to negotiate, they make very rapid progress.


Why do they come to counseling?

They have the same problems as other girls of their age. Phobias, obesity, suicide attempts... Since a few years, they also suffer from anorexia. This is a disease that in the beginning affected only the young of the wealthy social class. But anorexia is a way to express their suffering and the young Maghrebi girls are very "comfortable" to let other people know that they are not well. For their mothers who have grown up in the Maghreb this is something terribly violent.



How do these young people come to you, and how does a cross-cultural counseling work?

In most of the cases, this is their second counseling. We get teenagers who have already attended other therapists, usually with their parents. Only in 30 percent of cases the adolescents come alone. Our interviews are done by a group of cosmopolitan and multicultural therapists, and with a translator. A Maghrebi family is never followed by a Maghrebi psychotherapist, it would not help. Instead, there are blacks, yellows, whites in our wider circle. The adolescent immediately senses that people who listen to them are different: Asians, Arabs, Muslims, seculars... It is this otherness that helps understand the prejudice. The cross-cultural counseling is a valuable tool for interpreting the migration, which has multiple levels of interpretation: that of the father, mother, country of origin, and France.



Article published in No. 78 of the “Courrier de l' Atlas”.

Nathalie Galesne

Translated from Italian by Övgü Pınar








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