Although human migrations have been examined by historians, sociologists, demographers, and economists, among others, the effects of relocation have never before been studied in detail from a psychoanalytic viewpoint. In this book, previously published in Spanish and French, Drs. León and Rebeca Grinberg provide the first psychoanalytic study of normal and pathological reactions to migration.
Drawing on rich clinical material, on literature, and on myth, the Grinbergs discuss the relationship between migration and the language and age of the traveler; they consider its effects on the migrant’s sense of identity; they emphasize the special problem of exile, where departure is involuntary and return impossible; they draw insightful analogies between the migratory experience and human development, which can be seen as a series of arrivals and departures, and between migration and adoption, both instances of profound dislocation. The Grinbergs look at the phenomenon of migration in terms of the different types of anxieties it can awaken: persecutory anxieties in the face of change, depressive anxieties in which one mourns for others left behind and for the lost parts of the self, and confusional anxieties over the inability to distinguish between the old and the new. These anxieties, together with the symptoms and defense mechanisms they may produce, are part of what the Grinbergs call the psychopathology of migration. According to the authors, the ability to overcome these anxieties and recover the pleasure of thinking and desiring and the capacity for making plans for the future promotes an enrichment of the ego and the consolidation of a more evolved sense of identity, marking a positive point in maturation.