The Map as a Transitional Object
The map has several functions, which were clearly identified and do not need to be detailed again at length: pinpointing and direction, denomination, localization, spatialization, description and synthesis… This paper aims at showing that, on certain conditions concerning graphic pattern, the elaboration of information necessary beforehand and use, the map allows us to revive the classic life account and to transform it from a smooth talk into a real tool to understand the individual’s relationship to space. Indeed, the use of this kind of map allows us to supplement the strictly rationalizing dimension of the speech, by overcoming the reconstruction phenomena, which lead to a formal and artificial harmonization of the contents to be collected by narrative. This allows us to achieve the intimate, personal and affective dimensions of the individual in his relationship to space. We obtained this kind of map through the following stages: - 1/Interview of the life account type, with an instruction: to emphasize the spatial aspects of each given element. - 2/Return to the life account, noting each place, its characteristics, the activities which are carried out there by the individual, the frequenting (duration, frequency)… in order to obtain the spatiality as complete as possible for this individual. - 3/Mapping of the collected material: the map appears as a set of circular symbols and lines connecting them. Each circular symbol represents a place; its area depends on the cumulative frequenting; its color(s) correspond(s) to the main activity(ies) carried out. Each line represents the travel between two places; its thickness depends on how many times this travel is performed and the color(s) reveal(s) the possible activity(ies) carried out during it. This is an interactive map: through the interviewer, the individual can add places, travels, change their size, etc. He can also choose which periods of his life he wants to look at. Finally, he can zoom in on a part of “his” space. This map is then used as a means of reactivation of the speech in the second phase of the interview. It is therefore shown to “its” author, who immediately recognizes himself, even when the quality of the mapping rendering is bad: the life account previously obtained and the systematization of the study of each place and each link are far from being perfect (neither precise nor exhaustive), due to oversight from its “author” and voluntary omissions. For this reason, while he recognizes himself, the “author” wants to modify, to clarify the map: if this one is a mirror of the individual, it is nevertheless a distorting mirror. At this stage, we note that, unlike most other means of biographical speech reactivation, the individual does not complete or clarify his account in a rationalizing way; he thinks by association of ideas, revealing then completely new and often much more intimate developments than in the first phase of the interview. The map operates as a transitional object in the sense of Winnicott. A real “given-created object”, it puts the individual in the position of being with another self, with which the interview is no longer the same and the necessity to hide or to push himself forward towards the interviewer is far less. The interviewer then tries to disappear in order that the process develops between the interviewee and himself.
transitional object; méthodology; storytelling