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Federn, E. (1986). Psychoanalysis for the Chinese. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 13:356.

(1986). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 13:356

Psychoanalysis for the Chinese

Ernst Federn


The very interesting article: 'Psychoanalysis for the Chinese—applicable or not applicable?' (Int. Rev. Psychoanal., 12:449–460) brings to an Austrian reader the question of whether the difference between the Chinese mentality as described by the author is so very different from the Austrian. Austrians also distrust psychiatry. Only recently the governor of Upper Austria, Dr Ratzenböck, expressed his conviction that one good innkeeper equals at least two psychiatrists. The Austrians are notoriously introverted; don't like to talk about their problems to anyone except their close family members. Austrians too have a great sense for a collective feeling, one of the reasons why Alfred Adler's theories were and are always more popular than Freud's. The best known living Austrian psychiatrist is Erwin Ringel, an adherent of Alfred Adler.

I am reminded of the times when Freud's ideas crossed the ocean to the USA. It was claimed the American mind would never accept typically Viennese mentality (sic). Freud's answer was that it would be true that Americans have different modes than the Austrians but someone who cannot swim on the shores of the USA would surely drown there, as he would on the shores of Europe.

That brings me to the reason for this letter: It is hardly the difference in culture, as the ethnopsychoanalysts have so clearly demonstrated, so much as the difficulty in translating Freud's and other psychoanalytic writings. It was reported recently that such a translation of Freud into a Chinese language, probably Mandarin, is going to be undertaken.

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