Psychosocial Clinical Thinking and Practice

Home/ Psychosocial Clinical Thinking and Practice
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS3038234

Semester and Year Offered:Ist year, ist Semester

Course Coordinator and Team: Honey OberoiVahali, DeeptiSachdev and Shifahaq

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Acquaintance with the field of Psychosocial Studies

Aim: The foundational pillar of the MPhil programme is the psychosocial clinical perspective as explored and consolidated in theory by psychoanalysis and related experience based perspectives, also those in critical psychoanalytic theorization. Coming in the first semester, this course aims to set the tune of the MPhil programme to follow. It aspires to be of central significance by asking students to engage with the layered meanings of the term psychosocial clinical and also, by taking them closer to an examination of work in this tradition.

Course Outcomes:

  1. Familiarization with perspectives, debates and theories in the arena of psychosocial clinical studies.
  2. Acquaintance with issues and concerns of special significance in Indian context (marked as it is by cultural richness but also social suffering) around psychosocial clinical practice.
  3. IN depth knowledge of selected writings of Sudhir Kakar, Erik Erikson and a few other psychosocial thinkers, like AshisNandy

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

As the MPhil Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Programme situates itself in the intersections of unconscious processes as their play in the life history of individuals and groups, this course will examine the same in relation to experience, culture, history and political processes too. Thinkers who have traversed the distance between the clinical and the psychosocial will be fore grounded.

  1. Exploring the field of psychosocial clinical studies across different contexts, and understanding the emergence of the same during the last three to four decades.
  2. A focus on the wide spanning work of Erik Erikson will set the pace rolling. Students will be required to read some of the following essays in detail: The First psychoanalyst; The Nature of clinical evidence, The Golden rule in the Light of New Insight, Foundations in Observation, Psychological Reality and Historical Actuality, Womanhood and Inner Space; Erikson’s theory of Identity, Life History and the historical moment and reading Freud through Erikson
  3. By immersing themselves in Erikson’s psychosocial emphasis, searching questions about the ethics and philosophy of insight oriented clinical work and research will be kept alive. His focus on the historical moment, intergenerational sequencing of experiences, the human life cycle and historical actuality will help the student think about cultural and psychological phenomena in Indian context.
  4. Reading Sudhir Kakar, as a psychosocial clinical thinker of significance to setting the field of critical, cultural psychology in Indian context. Discussions will be based on some of his books, for instance, “The Indians”, Shamans, Mystics and Doctors, Culture and Psyche, The Inner World. Intimate Relations and Mira and the Mahatma. A balance will be sought between texts which carry a clinical and those with a psychosocial emphasis.
  5. Focusing on the unique manner in which psychoanalysis relates to symptoms as a means of deeper communication from the psyche. This frame of reference opens up the way to engage with the disavowed, the repudiated and the repressed. Ways of engaging with difficult human states from the unique psychoanalytic vantage position will be explored.
  6. Deliberating on the question of what constitutes experience, what are the ways in which experience can be looked at from? When does a subject comes into being? What is the relationship between experience and subjecthood? The purpose here would be to problematise the categories of experience, subjecthood and subjectivity. Readings from AshisNandy on the ethics of psychosocial work

Assessment Details with weights:

Reading List:

  1. Erikson, E. H. (1964). Insight and Responsibility. New York: Norton
  2. Erikson, E.H. (1967). Childhood and Society. New York: Norton
  3. Erikson, E.H. (1972). Identity, Youth and Crisis. New York: Norton.
  4. Frosh, S. and Baraitser, L (2008). Psychoanalysis and Psychosocial Studies. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 13, pp. 346-365
  5. Kakar, Sudhir&NandyAshis (1980). Culture and personality. In U.Pareek (ed.) A survey of research in psychology, 1971-76 (pp.136-167). Bombay: Popular Prakashan.
  6. Kakar, Sudhir (1978). Theinner world: A psychoanalytic study of childhood & society in India. New Delhi. Oxford University Press.
  7. Kakar, Sudhir (1980). Observations on the “Oedipal alliance” in a patient with a narcissistic personality disorder. Samiksa, 34, 47-53.
  8. Kakar, Sudhir (1982). Shamans, mystics and doctors: A psychoanalytic inquiry into India and its healing traditions. New York: Knopf.
  9. Kakar, Sudhir (1989). The maternal-feminine in Indian psychoanalysis. International Review of Psychoanalysis, 16, 355-362.
  10. Kakar, Sudhir (1990). Intimate relations: Exploring Indian sexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  11. Kakar, Sudhir (1993). Analyst and the mystic. New Delhi: Viking Press.
  12. Kakar, Sudhir (1997). Culture and psyche: Selected essays. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  13. Kakar, Sudhir (2003). Psychoanalysis and eastern spiritual healing traditions. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 48, 659-678
  14. Kakar, Sudhir (2004). Desire and spirituality. Personal communication with the author.
  15. Kakar, Sudhir(1995). Colours of violence. New Delhi: Viking Press.
  16. Nandy, Ashis (1980). At the edge of psychology: Essays in politics and culture. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  17. Nandy, Ashis (1983). The intimate enemy: Loss and recovery of self under colonialism. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  18. Nandy, Ashis (1995b). The savage Freud and other essays on possible and retrievable selves. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
  19. Nandy, Ashis(1995a) History’s forgotten doubles. History and Theory,34, 44-66.
  20. Vahali, H. O. (2011), Landscaping a perspective: India and the Psychoanalytic Vista. In (GirishwarMisra, Ed.) Theoretical perspectives in psychology, Volume 4. 5th ICSSR Review of Psychology. New Delhi: Pearson. Pp. 1-99.        


  1. Ogden, T. (1989). The Primitive Edge of Experience. Northvale. NJ: Jason Aronson
  2. Ogden, T. (1988). On the Dialectical Structure of experience: some clinical and theoretical implications. Contemporary Psychoanalysis. 24:17-45.
  3. Rutter, M. & Madge, N. (1976). Cycles of Disadvantage. London: Heinemann.
  4. Watkins, M and Shulman, H. (2008). Toward Psychologies of Liberation. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillian Winnicott, D.W. (1971) Playing and Reality. New York: Basic Books