Overview of Geographies of Psychoanalysis


The project works to promote the study and research related to the development and "contamination" of psychoanalysis which is living and evolving outside the current boundaries of where it is dispersed.

The debate around this issue takes place both in meetings of the groups and in international conferences.

Psychoanalysis currently finds itself in a crucial moment that is  apparently contradictory: on the one hand it has to ever increasingly engage with pharmacological therapies and with psychological techniques that are significantly different from itself, on the other, it is expanding in countries very distant from the historical psychoanalytical culture. Asia and the Muslim countries now consider it to be very important from both cultural and therapeutic points of view. It is no longer a question of dialogue with other disciplines, but one of establishing a comparison between different anthropological positions. We have to understand whether psychoanalytical concepts are universal and if its therapeutic methodology is effective in different countries worldwide.

We can ask ourselves what might happen if today Freud and Jung were to repeat the voyage they made to the United States in 1909. It was then that Freud said, “ They don’t realize that we are bringing them the plague.” We have to ask ourselves if  psychoanalysis still has the same powerful force and if it can overturn the traditional vision of mankind and dethrone him from his omnipotent position. Surely the current questions for psychoanalysis are more complicated than in the past. The world is now dominated by technology that subverts the perception of the body, by the new organisation of the family and group which enforce a new geometry of the mind and by global violence. The answers to these new realities are different from country to country, thus, psychoanalysis has to provide different answers. In the Western world, where we can see a fragmentation of the subject, psychoanalysis should, above all, help to recompose the Self. The individual tries to find not only a personal meaning but a collective one. On the contrary, in the Eastern world people are oppressed by totalitarian regimes  which suffocate individuality. For this reason psychoanalysis is asked to free them from this control of the group. The Iranian psychoanalyst Gohar Homayounpour opposes “the unbearable lightness of being” of the West to the unbearable weight of the Eastern experience .

Is psychoanalysis able to meet different needs without giving up its methodology? Is it a problem of “translation” between different cultures and religions? The birth of psychoanalysis was strongly characterized by its founder’s “spirit of the age”, and within the culture of that time Freud made some very sharp choices as regards his hypotheses. For example, he used a Greek version of the mythological Sphinx to build his hypothesis about the Oedipus constellation. He also used different historical interpretations which differed from tradition such as Moses’ Egyptian origin.  He made use of both existing material from the culture of the day and personal inventive solutions, something that often happens in scientific creation or thought in general.

We are not talking about adopting relativism, which instead of favouring contact isolates every thought and culture in its own particular dimension, but making anthropological models dynamic, including those in the Western world where psychoanalysis was born, and then put them in contact with others with their respective problem areas of the present day. In this sense, psychoanalysis must not be transplanted but “put to work” in the various contexts, in its dual role towards psychoanalysis and also outwards, in such a way that they may also highlight any changes that cultural influence causes both to the models and to the clinical aspects.     

Lorena Preta