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Ainslie, R. (2011). Immigration and the Psychodynamics of Class. Psychoanal. Psychol., 28(4):560-568.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28(4):560-568

Immigration and the Psychodynamics of Class

Ricardo Ainslie, Ph.D.

Numerous psychoanalytic contributors have theorized about the substantive role played by cultural factors in organizing individual identity. In addition to individual and family dynamics, issues related to class, race, religion, and other cultural themes also exert a vital presence in the treatment setting. These social forces define experience in profound ways from which it is impossible that form an inextricable part of an individual's psychology. Societal values, norms, and forces are carried and represented, forming an ever-present backdrop to our psychological lives. They thus become, perforce, part of the treatment process whether or not the therapist or analyst is aware of their presence. In prior work I have explored the topic of the immigrant's construction of self as it relates to social class (Ainslie, 2009). I argue that one of the variables that shape an immigrant's psychology is his or her social class position in his or her country of origin. In the present contribution, I seek to extend this exploration of the topic of social class and the psychology of immigration through three vignettes that capture aspects of how social class becomes represented in the experience and therapeutic treatment of immigrants.

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