Encyclopedia of Medical Anthropology

2004 Edition
| Editors: Carol R. Ember, Melvin Ember

Psychoanalysis and Anthropology

  • Waud H. Kracke
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/0-387-29905-X_8

Anthropology and psychoanalysis have much in common. The ability to listen, for example, is crucial to both disciplines. The approach psychoanalysis takes to mental illness is to listen to the patient and try to understand the structure of his symptoms and the origin of these symptoms in repressed or disavowed desires. The analyst supports the patient’s quest to understand the reason these desires were disavowed, in conflicts between the desires and the person’s values in the context of a set of assumptions about life that grew up as a response to childhood experiences. Anthropology is likewise based on listening—listening to a person (“informant” or “collaborator”) and trying to understand the structure of this person’s system of symbols, including the value system and the root assumptions about reality. Despite obvious differences—the psychoanalyst is responding to an individual patient who came to him for alleviation of personal suffering; the anthropologist is trying to understand...

Keywords

Mental Illness Psychoanalytic Theory Culture Shock Emotional Conflict Psychoanalytic Treatment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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  • Waud H. Kracke

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