A Reflective Appraisal: Discussion of Mi Yu's “Across Generations, Genders, and Cultures”
Miltiades Zaphiropoulos, M.D.
Reading this article reminded me of its origin as a presentation at a clinical conference by its author while she was in advanced training at her psychoanalytic institute. I was there for that presentation, and during discussion of the paper I, a nonagenarian myself, ventured to ask, not altogether in jest, whether this budding analyst had any open hours in her practice that I could use to profit. It is a pleasure indeed to see this essentially clinical paper published.
Though essentially clinical, this paper at least hints at a number of theoretical issues not often met in the psychoanalytic literature, as evidenced in the references cited in the article. Among these, and to begin with, is the vexing question of the analyzability of the elderly. Dr. Yu gives us an overview of Freud's position in this regard, as well as the position of those who begged to differ with him. As I have understood it, this also was a bone of contention between Freud and Jung at some point. It seems evident that the author was open to the feasibility of psychoanalysis with an elderly person. Such openness and eagerness were bound to contribute to the undertaking and its being carried out effectively—not without difficulty, as it happened, but with perseverance.
The author's premises regarding “the meaning of age” are well taken. The interweaving of chronological, physiological, and psychological aspects reflects a complexity not readily understood, let alone managed. Certainly, the matter of increasing longevity contributes to such complexity. Furthermore, the specifics of aging vary within one's culture and among different cultures, as well as with the times in which one lives. And yet transcultural notions have been put forward, sometimes in a way that seems to embody unconsidered assumptions. A case in point is Freud's view that persons over 50 years of age are not “educable.”
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