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Piers, G. Piers, M.W. (1982). On Being a Newcomer. Ann. Psychoanal., 10:369-378.

(1982). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 10:369-378

On Being a Newcomer

Gerhart Piers, M.D. and Maria W. Piers, Ph.D.

Ours is a nation of newcomers. The only exception are the American natives often erroneously referred to as Indians. Everybody else is either a newcomer or a descendant of relatively recent newcomers. Even “old,” i.e., patrician, families have dwelled on this soil at the most for the past three hundred years, which is a brief stretch in history, compared with the age of analogous groups in other countries.

Ours is also a nation of uprooted people, or of children and grandchildren of people uprooted under duress in the not-so-distant past. There were the Africans, dragged away and sold into slavery; there were such diverse, hungry or oppressed, or persecuted groups as the Irish, the Norwegians, the Jews, various Slavic groups, various people from the Middle East, from Middle America and South America, from the Caribbean, from East Asia. Even the Pilgrim fathers so exalted in retrospect were newcomers a mere 350 years ago when they came here to escape religious persecution.

Individual Differences and the Common Denominator

Each group of newcomers had or has a different fate rooted in its own history. Understandably, therefore, each group is concerned with its own destiny and its own future. This is why each group often lacks understanding for the tragic background and the triumphant survival of other groups, and why we, in this nation, rarely address ourselves to the common denominator of uprooted people.

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