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Kracke, W.H. (1980). Amazonian Interviews: Dreams of a Breaved Father. Ann. Psychoanal., 8:249-267.

(1980). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 8:249-267

V Interdisciplinary Research

Amazonian Interviews: Dreams of a Breaved Father

Waud H. Kracke, Ph.D.

Anthropology and psychoanalysis are both founded on methodologies which embody epistomological paradoxes of a rather similar nature. Psychoanalysis is devoted to the study of what man does not know about himself, what is repressed or otherwise rendered inaccessible to the observing ego which is its main instrument of observation. Anthropology is devoted to the study of ways of life and systems of belief that are incomprehensible to us because they are based on cultural presuppositions incompatible with our own, yet must be studied by individuals whose perceptions are profoundly molded by the cultural presuppositions of our society. Both enterprise require a long and taxing period of piecing together the mute assumptions of the person one is intimately and intensely engaged in understanding—mute in one case because the assumptions are warded off and often rooted in childhood modes of thought no longer accessible, and in the other case because they are so ingrained in a culture's perception of reality that they are not perceived as assumptions—not perceived, that is, as having alternatives. Both enterprises might be compared to Archimedes trying to move the earth without a fulcrum.

If one goes one step further, and tries to apply psychoanalytic modes of studying the psyche to an individual of a culture very different from one's own, the two paradoxes compound one another—Archimedes without either a fulcrum or a lever. Indeed, it has been argued—and not just by armchair methodologists—that the psychoanalytic study of individuals in non-Western cultures is impossible, at least by the conventional psychoanalytic method of interviewing.

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