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Grinberg, L. Grinberg, R. (1984). A Psychoanalytic Study of Migration: Its Normal and Pathological Aspects. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 32:13-38.

(1984). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 32:13-38

A Psychoanalytic Study of Migration: Its Normal and Pathological Aspects

León Grinberg, M.D. and Rebeca Grinberg, M.D.


Without maintaining that it always follows the same steps, we could say that the migratory process passes through several phases.

1. The feelings that prevail are those of intense sorrow for all that has been abandoned or lost, fear of the unknown, and the very profound experiences of loneliness, privation, and helplessness. Paranoid, confusional, and depressive anxieties occupy the scene in turn.

2. This stage may be followed or replaced by a manic state in which the immigrant minimizes the transcendental significance of the change in his life or, on the contrary, magnifies the advantages of the change and overvalues everything in the new situation, disdaining what has been lost.

3. After a variable period of time, nostalgia appears, and sorrow for the lost world. The immigrant begins to recognize feelings previously dissociated or denied and becomes capable of "suffering" his pain ("growing pains") while, at the same time, he becomes more accessible to the slow and progressive incorporation of elements of the new culture. The interaction between his internal and external world becomes more fluid.

4. Recovery of the pleasure of thinking and desiring and of the capacity for making plans for the future, in which the past is regarded as such and not as a "lost paradise" where one constantly longs to return. In this period, it could be considered that mourning for the country of origin has been worked through to the maximum extent possible, facilitating integration of the previous culture into the new culture, without the need to renounce the old. All of this promotes an enrichment of the ego and the consolidation of a more evolved sense of identity.

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