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Boulanger, G. (2015). Seeing Double, Being Double: Longing, Belonging, Recognition, and Evasion in Psychodynamic Work with Immigrants. Am. J. Psychoanal., 75(3):287-303.

(2015). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 75(3):287-303

Seeing Double, Being Double: Longing, Belonging, Recognition, and Evasion in Psychodynamic Work with Immigrants

Ghislaine Boulanger, Ph.D.

Psychically immigrants live double lives, simultaneously dwelling in the world they have left and the world in which they live, and into which most try to fit to avoid the alienating experience of being “other”. Doubleness is not a conscious act, but it is a preconscious counterpoint to just about every social interaction. I argue that successful psychodynamic treatment allows immigrants to take the doubleness for granted, in effect seeing double and being double. In this way they come to effortlessly privilege one self-state over the other. The recognition and acceptance of competing self-states proves transformative in any treatment, but never more so than in working with immigrants who contend with several culturally competing selves in their daily lives and seek one relationship in which they can all be seen and heard. I describe treating an immigrant who, when I began to work with her, excelled at seeing double, but being double posed a terrifying dilemma. At least two self-states were engaged in a tug of war; she feared that the winner would take all.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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