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Mahon, E. (1985). Basic Problems Of Ethnopsychiatry. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 33S(Supplement):181-184.

(1985). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 33S(Supplement):181-184

Basic Problems Of Ethnopsychiatry

Review by:
Eugene Mahon, M.D.

By George Devereux. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1980, xiii + 366 pp., $22.50.

This book is a collection of Devereux's papers spanning the years 1939-1966. These papers, rich in content, covering a variety of topics, anthropological and psychoanalytic, not only present a classic dissertation on the interface between anthropology and psychoanalysis, but also offer the reader a unique cross-section of the author's multidimensional mind.

As one reads and rereads the book, immersing oneself in the welter of anthropological data and their metapsychological implications, one develops a curiosity (a product no doubt of awe as much as of respect) for an author who dares keep his feet planted in two camps when most of us have difficulty enough keeping our balance in one. Devereux makes it clear that he is a psychoanalyst-anthropologist who has something important to say to psychoanalysts about culture, a multidetermined phenomenon that requires ethnopsychiatric as well as psychoanalytic definition. He feels that the psychiatrist should be as familiar with cultural concepts as he is with issues of defense, instinct, and structural theories, yet every psychiatrist might not be able, in his limited practice, to be knowledgeable about every nuance of culture. Devereux writes:

On a purely practical level, it is obvious that the average psychiatrist has no time to study in detail the cultural peculiarities of all who come to him for treatment—every Ozark mountaineer, reservation Indian, or Cajun.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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