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Hopkins, L.B. (1999). Letter to the Editor. Contemp. Psychoanal., 35(4):733-741.

(1999). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 35(4):733-741

Letter to the Editor

Linda B. Hopkins, Ph.D.

May 30, 1999

Dear Editor,

For the past three years, I have been immersed in interviews and other research for a biography of the late M. Masud R. Khan. Thus it was with intense interest that I read Gladys Guarton's article “Transgression and Reconciliation: A Psychoanalytic Reading of Masud Khan's Last Book” in your issue of April 1999 (Volume 35, Number 2). I found the article to be an open-minded and refreshing look at a controversial subject. Guarton argues that Khan published his hostile and anti-Semitic case material in The Long Wait (Khan, 1988; published in the U.K. as When Spring Comes) in an attempt to resolve conflicts resulting from his abandonment of his Muslim Indian-Pakistani roots in favor of an identification with Western values. She suggests that guilt and shame played a major role in the dynamics of Khan's personality and that he provoked the British Psycho-Analytical Society to reject him, in a reenactment of the “virtual expulsion” (p. 307) of his parents by the extended family in Pakistan. Guarton believes that the Pakistani “expulsion” was a reaction to the fact that Khan's young mother, the father's third wife, was not only Hindu but also a courtesan and unwed mother prior to her marriage.

I value Guarton's thoughtfulness and her skillful application of conflict theory to an understanding of Masud Khan. I take this opportunity, however, to provide an alternative perspective that I believe is closer to Khan's self-experience and to the theory of his mentor and analyst of fifteen years, Donald Winnicott. My view is that Khan was not driven by shame and guilt, and that he did not experience significant conflict in being an Eastern man living in the West. I believe that his final publication was motivated by bitterness and rage at his Western colleagues and it was an attempt to express himself and to be understood, rather than an attempt at conflict resolution. In addition to my alternate understanding of Khan's personality, I also found Guarton's article to contain some incorrect factual material. Here are the specifics of my reaction to the article.

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