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de Millán, S.G. Millán, S. (2004). Identity in the Asphalt Jungle. A Study of Mexican Youngsters Who Work in the Streets. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 13(4):254-263.

(2004). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 13(4):254-263

Identity in the Asphalt Jungle. A Study of Mexican Youngsters Who Work in the Streets

Sonia Gojman de Millán, Ph.D. and Salvador Millán

We present a study of 40 youngsters who live and work in the streets of Mexico City and who have abandoned their homes for significant periods of time. They seek out their own means of survival from a very young age. In many cases they have children of their own already as teenagers. The Seminario de Sociopsicoanálisis was invited to take part in a project aimed at facilitating the access of these children to graphic arts, artistic creation and therapeutic listening.

This article presents our principal findings of the children's everyday life conditions, their work and their dreams, based on data obtained from social character questionnaires - with which therapeutic intervention in this project began. Vignettes of two case studies are also presented.

The interviews were complemented by data gathered in weekly sessions attended by the youngsters on a voluntary bases. The sessions attested to both the narcissistic, aggressive impulsiveness of these youngsters and the vital effort they make toward their own recovery and toward establishing affective emotional ties with instructors and therapists.

We found that socio-psychoanalytic methods could be used successfully to expand the scope of psychoanalytic theoretic postulates about character to a non-clinical, disadvantaged population. By analyzing the content of the psychoanalytically guided interviews we were able to recognize the central, distinctive motive, which leads these youngsters to run away from home and forge their own sense of identity.

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