Rather like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Hervé Magnin is a man active in many fields. He runs a training and consultancy firm, practices as a cognitive and behavioural psychotherapist and has published a number of essays on psychology.
In his youth, Hervé was not a voracious reader. It was while he was on a trip to Canada at the age of 25 that a friend gave him a copy of The Little Prince. He read it and was stirred by it. The dedication – to the young Léon Werth – moved him. The literary invention fascinated him. He discovered the pleasure of reading.
Quoting the Little Prince
Hervé believes that books can improve our everyday lives. Over the years, he discovered resemblances between Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s character and himself: “when he asks a question, the Little Prince keeps on asking it until he gets an answer”. The same is true of Hervé, who never stops asking questions. When he writes his books about how to cope with dishonesty, Hervé cites the example of the Little Prince: when dealing with grown-ups, he asks them questions without being duped by their hollow, conventional or stupid replies. For the therapist, the Little Prince is both teacher (to the aviator) and pupil (to the fox). In his works, Hervé makes use of this dual nature of Saint-Exupéry’s hero.
In his book entitled Surmonter ses peurs. Enfin libre (Overcoming your fears: free at last), Hervé presents the meeting between the Little Prince and the fox as a masterpiece of communication, or even of therapy for fear through the agency of love and patience: “that first step towards the unknown must be a small one, because it allows us to realise that the thing we feared has not come to pass. Because of this, we are able to take the second step. This confirmatory step must be barely less small than the first. But the assurance it gives us makes the third step possible, and then the next…”. This passage is no more and no less than the fox’s first lesson. As Hervé sees it, taming is one of the underlying principles of behaviourism
« For the therapyst, the Little Prince is both teacher and pupil »
Saint-Exupéry on the brain
Psychotherapy is not the only field in which Hervé operates. He is also a writer and composer, he dabbles in the plastic arts and he appears on stage. In his stage appearances, he loves to improvise. He has also written a first novel and more recently a tale entitled Le Petit Antoine, dedicated to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry “when he was a little boy”. He recounts the wander-ings of Antoine, a little boy at large in the world of nature; his encounters with animals that speak to him have philosophical overtones. If asked to explain his attachment to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s work, Hervé replies that it is rich in meaning and ahead of its time. He thinks also of the loneliness suffered by those who are out of step with the opinions of their time.
Hervé is one of those individuals who find that the Little Prince and more generally the work of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry provide stimulus, both multiple and topical, for their everyday activity, one of those individuals who create a sense of giving meaning to their lives because they are constantly “reaching out”.
Meet hervé on his website.