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Pollock, G.H. (1989). On Migration-Voluntary And Coerced. Ann. Psychoanal., 17:145-158.

(1989). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 17:145-158

On Migration-Voluntary And Coerced

George H. Pollock, M.D., Ph.D.


From his earliest beginnings man was a wanderer—whether his wanderings were biologically based (our simian ancestors probably moved from place to place in search of food and shelter) or psychologically based (displaying an insatiable curiosity to explore new terrain or discover new and different environments). As a wanderer, man left what he had and moved on. As psychological and social development unfolded, as our life span increased, we came to realize that perhaps inside all of us was a push for separation and individuation as a means of defining our selves, our being. This urge was most notably seen as children gradually left mother and began new relationships in new settings and later, in adolescence, when they had the biological and social need to move away from the family of origin, establish new intimate ties to others, and so become persons in their own right and ultimately establish new family units. This is the evolution and psychological basis of leaving the familiar and starting something new. Yet within all of us internal and external ties to our past and to our earlier reality still remain. But what about the feelings that come from this leave taking—be it self-motivated or, in increasing numbers, necessitated by social and political upheavals that mandate migration, sometimes as a means of survival? We cannot, we should not, we must not disavow our heritage lest we lose more than we gain. New amalgams of old and new enrich us all.

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