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Journal Articles International Journal of Psychoanalysis Year : 2016

Psyche and Culture


Abstract: The unconscious often appears in the form of a question or answer to the difficult relationship between the psyche and culture, a difficulty that becomes exacerbated when we are dealing with cultural difference. This difficulty, evidenced for example by Freud’s thoughts on Islam, reappears, albeit in a very different way, in ethnopsychiatric theory. The author discusses the blind spots of the binary logic of the unconscious present in the work of George Devereux, a logic that eventually leads him into the same trap he had himself criticized. This discussion allows us to open up other perspectives, by moving away from the analogies, confusions and splits between the psyche and culture towards what binds them together. This link is sustained by language and its dialectics, at the crossroads of individual singularity and cultural codifications. The author’s approach is supported by two clinical vignettes: one from a case of a young Turkish woman, the other concerning a male Iraqi patient, a survivor of torture. This approach distances itself from any psychocentric view that would see the psyche as closed upon itself and thus ultimately exclude any object-relations and inter-subjective relationships; likewise, it rejects the ethnocentric conflation of the subject with his culture.


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Dates and versions

hal-01432225 , version 1 (12-01-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01432225 , version 1


Rajaa Stitou. Psyche and Culture . International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2016. ⟨hal-01432225⟩


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