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Mehta, P. (1997). The Import and Export of Psychoanalysis: India. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 25(3):455-471.

(1997). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 25(3):455-471

The Import and Export of Psychoanalysis: India

Purnima Mehta, M.D.*

Import of Psychoanalysis to India

Introduction of Psychoanalysis in India

Psychoanalysis was imported to India at the peak of colonial rule in 1920. The first non-Western psychoanalyst, Girindrasekhar Bose (1886-1953) pioneered the discipline in India. He was the youngest of four sons and five daughters. He was known to describe to his students and trainees

with great relish, two details about his early years—first he was a breech baby. As he loved to put it, he was born feet first holding his head high. He paid dearly for the privilege; injury at birth left him with one foot slightly shorter than the other. Second, he was breast-fed until five. Defying psychoanalytic wisdom, Bose claimed that the prolonged breast feeding had not heightened his oral dependency needs; rather it had contributed to his psychological well being and optimism. (Nandy, 1995, p. 89)

The Bose family came from Bengal's urban area, Calcutta. His parents seemed to have interesting traditional inclinations despite reformed Brahmin attitudes, that is, faith in gurus and supernatural powers. This focus might have generated Bose's scholarly curiosity in the study of the mind. Hence, after finishing school, Bose joined the Presidency college, an elite intellectual institute of Calcutta. He pursued medical school living in north Calcutta (14 Parsibagan Street), later to become the citadel of psychoanalysis in India. He had a keen interest in magic and hypnotism. He gave public performances of magic that were received with great enthusiasm. He also used hypnotic therapy in cases of insomnia, vomiting, and asthma.

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