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Bodnar, S. (2004). Remember Where You Come From: Dissociative Process in Multicultural Individuals. Psychoanal. Dial., 14(5):581-603.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 14(5):581-603

Remember Where You Come From: Dissociative Process in Multicultural Individuals

Susan Bodnar, Ph.D.

Psychoanalysts participate in the internal constructs and the external exigencies of the people with whom they work, sitting where society and individuality cross paths. Yet, much of psychoanalytic writing mutes culture's bass line from the self's composition, even though every gesture—not to mention every word—evinces the cultural world in the analyst's room. Psychic disconnection takes place as the analyst decontextualizes an individual's personality from cultural reality in a dissociative process that compromises the analytic work. Cultural truths are very much a part of that work's mutuality. Social history underscores the motivations of the seekers and the providers of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Interpretations, enactments, and the relationship's construction unconsciously replicate unexamined tenets of analysts' cultural belief system. If analysts don't connect the dynamic process in which they work to social influence, they and the people who consult with them will inevitably wall off access to transformative meaning. Increased consciousness about how culture affects the therapeutic relationship inspires change. This paper presents three clinical examples in which culture was openly acknowledged as another actor in the psychoanalytic relationship. Two persons working together from and within cultural history create a common language: the dream of a better life.

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