Introduction to Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy in Indian Context

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS3038264

Semester and Year Offered: 2nd Semester/ 1st Year

Course Coordinator and Team: Ms. Neetu Sarin, Dr. Honey Oberoi Vahali, Dr. Rachna Johri

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Completion of 1st Semester Courses

Aim: The main aim of this course is to set in place a thinking and preparing students to questions of critical therapeutic import,as they set themselves up for clinical work in the Indian setting.

Course Outcomes:

  1. To be able to appreciate the contributions from non-European and North American cultures, enriching the body of knowledge in psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
  2. To be able to question the culture and psyche within healing traditions of India. And reflect back on therapeutic processes in Indian context.
  3. To be able to look at the relation between psychotherapy and variations of psychoanalysisand to be able to move towards psychoanalytical diagnosis and brief psychodynamic work.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

This unit will deepen the discussion of the previous semester, even as the course facilitator will focus on a range of ways in experience is worked with in the therapeutic process. The course is anchored on four major aspects - History of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy, psychoanalytically oriented diagnosis, interface of Indian culture and psyche, relation between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy

History of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy: In this unit, the instructor will help students look at the history of psychoanalytic psychotherapy in cultures European and North American (the major discourse) as well as those which depart from there. Latin American, Asian (Indian, Japanese and Chinese) and East European (Russian and other cultural questions to the main body of psychoanalysis will be given salience. Of significance in this historical journey would be questions which the psychoanalytic tradition has generally ignored and avoided.

The course will continue the thrust of the previous course in semester 1, “On becoming a practitioner”. Students would share their concerns about patients they are seeing at the clinic. They would also be required to focus on Assessing Developmental Issues, Developmental Levels of Personality Organization and Clinical Implications of Developmental Levels of Organization. All of this would help them to form a psychoanalytically oriented diagnosis. An emphasis on oedipal issues, object relations and the manifestation of unconscious clinical phenomena in the consultation room will help them prepare for responding to emotional crisis in brief work while keeping the axis of long term work alive.

Concerns with respect to culture and psyche would be foregrounded. Based on experience of working with Indian patients, this part of the course would take care of attending to the subtle ways in which expressions of emotional life are lived out in our particular context. The experience of clinical practice and the thinking around it would help students reflect on- the kinds of patients who come for help in India, the issues they bring forth, their needs, their worldview, the relationship between psychotherapy, faith, religion and traditional forms of healing. The possibility of dialoguing between culture, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis would be explored. Some additional questions to be thought through could be -Who gets missed out- how do we reach out to them. Is there a life historical dimension through which Indians talk about their self? How is the mystical cosmic notion of self lived out here? Who is the analytical subject here? Questions around transference, representation of unconscious material, issues related to sexuality and termination of clinical work will be touched upon. Of particular relevance here would be the contributions of Sudhir Kakar and other Indian psychoanalysts. Of relevance here will also be experience of the psychoanalytic forays in cultures similar to ours.

as core values and ethics of clinical practice are delved in, the relationship between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy would be highlighted. From principles of psychoanalytic psychotherapy to processes of therapy, this part of the course would lay the ground from where practice in our context could take its roots. As against psychoanalysis proper, variations of psychoanalytic psychotherapy would be of focus herein. Students would be acquainted with Balint’s model of brief psychodynamic work.

Assessment Details with weights: Viva – 50% ; and Written Assignment – 50%

Reading List:

  • Abend, S. M. (1979). Unconscious Fantasy and Theories of Cure. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 27, pp. 579-596.
  • Arlow, J. (1969). Unconscious fantasy and disturbances of conscious experience. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 38, pp. 1-27
  • Balint, M. The Basic Fault (pp. 127-131)
  • Basch, MF (1980). Doing Psychotherapy. Basic Books, New York
  • Blanck and Blanck (1973). Ego Psychology, Theory and Practice Columbia University Press, New York
  • Blanck and Blanck (1979). Ego Psychoanalytic Development Psychology. Columbia University Press, New York.
  • Davanloo, H Ed by, (1994). Basic Principles and Techniques in Short term Dynamic Psychotherapy
  • Psychoanalysis and Symbolization: Legacy or Heresy? In: C. Ellman, S. Grand, M. Silvan& S. J. Ellmans (Eds.) The Modern Freudians: Contemporary Psychoanalytic Technique (pp. 79-97). Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.
  • Krystal, H. (1975). Affect Tolerance. The Annual of Psychoanalysis, 4, pp.172-219.

Additional References:

  • Joseph, B. (1983). On Understanding and Not Understanding: Some Technical Issues. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 64, pp. 291-298.
  • Novick, K. K. (1990). Access to Infancy: Different Ways of Remembering. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 71, pp.335-349.
  • Kakar, S. (1982) Shamans, Mystics and Doctors: A Psychological inquiry into India and her healing traditions. New Delhi: oxford University press.
  • Kakar, S (1996) Culture and Psyche. New Delhi: Oxford University Press
  • Kakar, S. (1998) The Analyst and the Mystic, New Delhi: Viking
  • Roland, A, (1996) Psychoanalysis and Cultural Pluralism. New York: Routledge
  • Roland, A (2013) Journeys to Foreign Selves New York: Routledge
  • Sandler, J. & Sandler, A.-M. Phantasy and its transformations: A contemporary Freudian view. In: R. Steiner (Ed.), Unconscious Phantasy (pp. 77-88).Psychoanalytic Ideas series. London: Karnac.
  • McWilliams. Plea for a Measure of Abnormality. New York: Guilford press (pp. 46
  • Pine, F. (1990). Drive, Ego, Object, and Self: A Synthesis for Clinical Work (pp. 22-113). New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Richards, A. (1992). Unconscious Fantasy: An Introduction to the Work of Jacob A. Arlow, M. D., and to the Symposium in His Honor. Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 1(4), pp. 505-512.