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Bell, L. (2015). The Unseen and the Unheard: South African and Indian Responses to Social Invisibility and Psychic Pain. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(5):965-976.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(5):965-976

University Forum

The Unseen and the Unheard: South African and Indian Responses to Social Invisibility and Psychic Pain

Leslie Bell

In this university forum on the unseen and the unheard, we heard from a sociologist, Raka Ray, about the precarious but aspirational middle class in India, and from a psychologist, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, about processes of forgiveness and remorse in post-apartheid South Africa. Both presentations addressed the psychic consequences of rapid social change: in India the modernization of the economy; and in South Africa the transition from formal apartheid to democratic rule. These two researchers are shedding light on dramatic social transformations through their attention to individual cases and subjectivities.

While each presentation was unique and distinct, both were concerned with the question, What kind of subjectivity is possible, and is being created, under unique political, historical, and economic conditions? As the discussant, Nancy Chodorow, pointed out, attention to the particular political, racial, gender, and economic location of our patients is as important in understanding them as the location of the people Ray and Godobo-Madikizela write about is to a grasp of their situation. From its beginnings, she noted, psychoanalysis has been concerned with both the universal and the particular aspects of human subjectivity.

[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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