The character of Pinocchio seen by a psychoanalyst

Beech or not to be born: that could be the question when you are a simple puppet carved from a worthless log by a carpenter, toymaker grandfather named Geppetto. Eh yes ! it’s still a lot of work (birch?) to come to life and become a little boy of flesh and bone, with such a story that is unusual in psychoanalysis… Geppetto’s dearest dream is for his puppet to become a real child. We notice in passing the almost total absence of the mother – we can barely see the sketch of an idealized maternal figure with the character of the Blue Fairy – and this is moreover one of the originalities of the tale. .

Also to discover:The character of Esther seen by a psychoanalyst

The puppet of his desires

With such a CV, we are not surprised to see our young patient do stupid things all the time, preferring to stuff himself with candy on the Ile aux Plaisirs rather than going to school, following malicious individuals (the fox and the cat, too creepy!) or lie as he breathes. The child is tossed around, left to himself and in a perpetual conflict between what Freud called the “id” (in short, nonsense) and the “superego” (the moral conscience, embodied here by Jiminy Cricket, who tries always to bring him back to his senses and home). Pinocchio’s “I” is not yet strong enough to decide. He is therefore the puppet of others, including his father, but also of his own impulses, which literally lead him by the tip of his nose… which grows longer with each lie. He thus embodies the child who can be easily manipulated. Without a mother, without a relationship with Geppetto, he goes out into the world, has no one to cuddle or protect him.

Not nose of the last rain

But what you have to understand is that it also refers to the imaginary child that every parent has in mind. As long as the child remains this fantasy, he is also the parents’ puppet, therefore a wooden character. He will only come to life, flesh and blood, once they learn his childhood reality. Pinocchio reminds us of how important it is to take care of a child and not leave it on its own. As for his appendix, it rises to the point that it can be associated with an erect penis, symbol here of the infantile masturbation that each child abandons during the latency period, when he manages, like Pinocchio, at the so-called age of “reason”, to master his impulses. We can therefore think that unconsciously this is also what the Blue Fairy often comes to reprimand by telling her that her nose is getting longer… To become human, we all need to be born into reality, to come out of our fantasies and to confront us with reality.


One could even think that Pinocchio is also his father’s child therapist, since he is the one who saves Geppetto from the belly of the whale. He comes to take care of him so that he can, in turn, be taken care of by him. Pinocchio is one of the rare tales about the desire for fatherhood. The puppet is the product and creation of a father’s fantasy, because, yes, men can have a desire for pregnancy and a fantasy of childbirth, even when they are of a certain age. Any self-respecting Lacanian will therefore rather read “son” in the sonic sense, when it comes to those that are activated in the puppet, and will immediately hear “born”, when one speaks of the famous “nose”. If it is often said that the story of Pinocchio is that of conception answering the question “how are babies made?” “, we can also hear there” how do we do dads? Because, finally, Pinocchio will only be able to be born a little boy of flesh and bones when he and Geppetto are rejected from the belly of the whale, a sea monster, symbol of the maternal uterine womb, which contains both the son and the father. .

Both expelled, as given birth, we witness a double birth: that of a real child and that of a father. Above all, it is a birth to each other, so that the relationship between the two finally takes place. Sensitive boy Pinocchio finds a way to bond with his failing parent. This child-log, whose roots have been cut literally and figuratively, rediscovers those of his filiation and of love. When we know that the author of Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi, from a family of ten children, was sent by his parents, from the age of 3, to live with an aunt, it is easy to think that this form of abandonment nourished the writing of his masterpiece. Well, dear Pinocchio, the session is offered to you, because we fear, given your background, a payment by check… in wood!

Thanks to psychoanalyst Christophe Bormans and Saverio Tomasella, psychoanalyst and author ofDare your uniqueness, Eyrolles.

* On the Disney+ platform, from September 8.
** On Netflix, in December.

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