Why do people migrate from one country to another? What is the difference between an immigrant and an exile? What determines the psychological outcome of immigration? Can one ever mourn the loss of one's country? What are the defensive functions of nostalgia? Are there specific guidelines for psychotherapy and psychoanalysis for immigrant patients? How can the therapist disentangle the patient's cultural rationalizations from underlying intrapsychic conflicts?
In this unique book, psychoanalyst and poet Salman Akhtar provides answers to such questions. He notes that migration from one country to another has lasting effects on an individual's identity. Such identity change involves the dimensions of drives and affects, psychic space, temporality, and social affiliation. Dr. Akhtar addresses the immigrant's idealization and devaluation, closeness and distance, hope and nostalgia, transitional area of the mind, superego change, and linguistic transformation. With poignant clinical vignettes, he illustrates the implications of these ideas for the therapeutic process where the therapist, the patient, or both, are immigrants. Immigration and Identity, replete with poetry and personal letters from immigrant colleagues from many nations, conveys its message with irony, wit, laughter, pain, sadness, empathy, and, above all, clinical and human wisdom.
"This wonderful book elucidates the intrapsychic and reality factors that prompt immigration and also the reactions to realities encountered by the immigrant. I highly recommend it for both mental health professionals and lay readers."—Ruth F. Lax, Ph.D.
"Immigration is at the cutting edge of the globalization of our world and is a subject that demands the nuanced understanding and evocative communication Akhtar brings to the task. For clinicians as well as social science researchers, his work is bound to become a classic!"—Afaf Mahfouz, Ph.D.
"Akhtar's book is of enormous relevance in today's era of migration, displacement, exile, and alienation. With his usual clarity and poetic style, Akhtar elucidates the factors that impinge on the identity and adaptation of immigrants and their acceptance in the new community. His book touches all of us who have been displaced from one culture to another, and are comfortable everywhere but rooted nowhere."—Helen Meyers, M.D.
About the Author:
Salman Akhtar, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College, Lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and Training and Supervising Analyst at the Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Institute. He is the Book Review Editor of the Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, an associate edi-tor of the Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research, member of the editorial board of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, past member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, and an editorial reader for Psychoanalytic Quarterly. He is the author of Broken Structures: Severe Personality Disorders and Their Treatment (1992) and Quest for Answers: A Primer for Understanding and Treating Severe Personality Disorders (1995). His more than 130 scientific publications also include thirteen edited or co-edited books. Dr. Akhtar is the recipient of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association's Award (1995) and the Margaret Mahler Literature Prize (1996), and was named the 1998 Clinician of the Year by IPTAR, New York. He has also published five volumes of poetry