Société Psychanalytique de Paris

Peter Pan, the Lost Child

 de Kathleen Kelley-Lainé

Peter Pan, “young innocent and heartless”, with his baby tooth smile is one of the most popular heroes of fiction of both children and adults for over one hundred years. The author explores this mythical figure, both as a story as well as a metaphor, revealing the hidden traumas and psychological conundrums of this “Lost Child”. The evocative and lyrical style takes the reader through multiple levels of understanding of this seemingly simple “fairy tale”, into the tragic story of its author J. M. Barrie and of other Peter Pans who never grow up.

The present book is a revised new translation of the original French publication, Peter Pan ou l’Enfant Triste that was a bestseller in 1992. The book appeared in English in 1997 as Peter Pan the Story of Lost Childhood.

Contains a new foreword from renowned psychoanalyst Jonathan Sklar.

The story of Peter Pan has fascinated young and old audiences for over one hundred years. Many of us have aspired to fly with him to Neverland, to taste the freedom of soaring over life’s worrying details. Others sense that there is a dark side to the story but don’t quite know what to do with it. The author, James Mathew Barrie, defines Peter Pan as ‘gay, innocent and heartless’.

In Peter Pan, the Lost Child, psychoanalyst Kathleen Kelley-Lainé explores Peter Pan’s light-hearted escapades and uncovers a sad, lost child behind the ‘baby tooth’ smile. She uses the story as a framework for the stories of her patients to show how their own Peter Pan manifests, giving a unique insight into how childhood events can block growth into adulthood. She also investigates the sinister side of author James Mathew Barrie as it relates to his Peter Pan tale, and addresses her own family history and its links to The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up. Little by little, as the book progresses, Kelley-Lainé’s lost childhood emerges as a child who fled with her family from war-torn Hungary after the Second World War to the ‘promised land’ of Canada.

These three interwoven storylines take the reader on a literary journey to uncover secrets and hidden emotions. Kelley-Lainé makes clear that the child who cannot grow up, the Peter Pan raging inside the adult, needs to be heard and understood. Only then can that lost child have a chance to find the road to maturity.

Kathleen Kelley-Lainé is a trilingual psychoanalyst working in private practice (English, French and Hungarian). She is an active member of the Société Psychanalytique de Paris, the European Psychoanalytical Federation, the International Psychoanalytical Association, and the International Sándor Ferenczi Society. She is internationally known for her many conferences, published articles in psychoanalytical journals and books. Her most well-known book published in French Peter Pan ou l’enfant triste was translated into English, Hungarian, and Greek and is still in circulation since 1992.

Kathleen was born in Hungary and emigrated to Canada with her family as a child. She was educated in Toronto and obtained a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Toronto. Her professional career began as a lecturer of sociology at Bishop’s University in Quebec. Later, she moved to Switzerland, hired by the Geneva Department of Education, to carry out research and development on the use of educational television. After seven years, she moved to Paris, engaged by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as project manager of an international policy survey on the education of disabled children. She began her training as a psychoanalyst at the Société Psychanalytique de Paris, after being admitted as a member, she joined the editorial committee of the Review Française de Psychanalyse, and later served on the admissions committee. In 2001, she organised an international psychoanalytical conference at UNESCO, “Une Mère, une Terre, une Langue” on the question of immigration and loss of the mother tongue.