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Haase, E.K. (2015). Immigration and Acculturation: Mourning, Adaptation, and the Next Generation, by Salman Akhtar, Jason Aronson, Lanham, MD, 2010, 310 pp.. Psychodyn. Psych., 43(4):659-662.
(2015). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 43(4):659-662
Immigration and Acculturation: Mourning, Adaptation, and the Next Generation, by Salman Akhtar, Jason Aronson, Lanham, MD, 2010, 310 pp.
Review by: Elizabeth K. Haase, M.D.
The psychology of immigration, while of personal interest to Sigmund Freud and well covered in the field of sociology, has been largely neglected by psychoanalysis. Immigration and Acculturation bridges these disciplines, covering the psychological impact of immigration from unemployment statistics and the semiotic politics of the term “illegal alien” to subtle psychoanalytic understandings of the ego schisms and dissociative states associated with the loss of home and place. Salman Akhtar has provided what will surely become a seminal text, incorporating and adding to the many papers he has written on the topic of the immigrant experience over the past two decades.
Immigration and Acculturation is divided into helpfully tidy chapters on everyday concerns: work and money, sex and marriage, friendship and socialization, religion and politics, offering easy reference for the practicing clinician confronting a clinical problem during work with a patient. What makes this book special, however, is its uniquely psychoanalytic descriptions of the self in states of radical environmental and personal dislocation, including the common scenario of divorce after a long marriage and rarer plight of involuntary exile.
As we confront the involuntary losses of habitat and forced exiles of extreme weather events and resource scarcity due to global warming, Akhtar's ideas will become of tremendous relevance. Increasingly even those who do not immigrate face the sudden and radical change of their physical environment, as when a lakebed makes the final transition from wet to dry with evolving drought or the winter becomes radically altered by a changing polar vortex.
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