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Richman, S. (2018). Volkan: Immigrants and Refugees: Trauma, Perennial Mourning, Prejudice, and Border Psychology (S. Richman). Psychoanal Q., 87(4):853-861.

(2018). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 87(4):853-861

Volkan: Immigrants and Refugees: Trauma, Perennial Mourning, Prejudice, and Border Psychology (S. Richman)

Review by:
Sophia Richman

Vamik D. Volkan has been writing about migration since the early 1970s, and ironically we find that the subject is more relevant today than ever. While there is little in this slim book that is new, it is most timely at this point, when the world is grappling with a refugee crisis the likes of which we have not seen since the end of the Second World War.

Volkan is the right person to tackle this subject because of his vast experience with it, both professional and personal. He has authored, co-authored or edited over fifty psychoanalytic and psycho-political books, and over four hundred scientific papers, or book chapters. His experience in international relations is extensive. He has garnered numerous awards for his work and even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize on several occasions. His About the Author section is quite impressive and daunting; it reads like a Wikipedia page.

As with so many of us, Volkan’s research interests are influenced by his personal experiences. Born in Cyprus to Turkish parents, he came to the United States as a young man after having completed his medical education in Turkey. He arrived here prepared to begin advanced training in psychiatry and had a position as a medical intern already waiting for him. This privileged position distinguishes him from most of the immigrants and refugees that we encounter today who face an uncertain future.

We are all influenced by our personal experiences. My own history as both a refugee and an immigrant sensitizes me to some important distinctions between these two categories of migrants.

[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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