PSYCHOANALYTIC APPLICATIONS IN A DIVERSE SOCIETY

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Abstract

There is considerable tension within psychoanalysis regarding the place of social context in the individual’s inner life. In recent years, applications of psychoanalytic theory have extended to contexts outside of the therapeutic setting, and psychoanalytic scholars have increasingly attended to issues of race and culture within the therapeutic setting. The present article focuses on applications of psychoanalytic theory in clinical and community contexts, with an emphasis on racial and cultural diversity. The author proposes an approach to clinical and community interventions that integrates multiple theoretical perspectives (e.g., psychoanalytic, community, multicultural) to advance practitioners’ and consultants’ engagement with issues of diversity, and considers how practice with racially and culturally diverse populations can inform existing psychoanalytic theory. Two case examples, one from psychotherapy and the other from a community intervention, are presented to illustrate the ways in which psychoanalytic theory can benefit therapeutic work and consultation across sociocultural contexts. Implications of the experiences of minority individuals and communities for psychoanalytic theory, research, practice, and education are discussed.

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