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Rendon, M. (1993). The Psychoanalysis of Ethnicity and the Ethnicity of Psychoanalysis I. Am. J. Psychoanal., 53(2):109-122.

(1993). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 53(2):109-122

The Psychoanalysis of Ethnicity and the Ethnicity of Psychoanalysis I

Mario Rendon, M.D.


My patient is a psychiatric resident in her last year of training. She is from a Caribbean country. She has been struggling with the termination of her therapy of several years. At the last session she tells me: “Of course you are not Costeño”. In doing this she is acknowledging that, like her, I am from a Caribbean country, but she is pointing out that I obviously do not share some of her ethnic identity because I come from the interior. She tells me this in answer to my request that she spell the name of a God of Santeria she mentioned in a dream: Elehua. Elehua is a child God who “opens the paths” and who is represented in Caribbean households by a coconut that has been “trabajado,” worked oh, by the santera and that people place close to their doors as to signify “opened.”

The therapy with my patient has been at an impasse. We had planned to terminate a while ago to capitalize on a job transfer, but the patient felt unready. At the time, she developed a new romantic relationship with someone she clearly knew was not good for her. It was a passion and she was able to define it as a transferential yearning related to the termination. This relationship, clearly self-destructive, had been stopped after analytic discussion, but it had been reactivated during my summer vacation. Insight into the transferential aspects and the separation issues did not seem to fulfill my patient. It is as if she was waiting for something more from me that was not forthcoming. This was the impasse.

A few weeks ago the patient took a brief vacation and went to see relatives and friends in another city. Upon her return she announced to me that she was ready to set a termination date.

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