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Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in China

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This peer-reviewed journal proposes to explore the introduction of psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic therapy, and the wider application of psychoanalytic ideas into China. It aims to have articles authored by Chinese and Western contributors, to explore ideas that apply to the Chinese clinical population, cultural issues relevant to the practice of analysis and psychotherapy, and to the cultural interface between Western ideas underpinning psychoanalysis, and the richness of Chinese intellectual and philosophical ideas that analysis must encounter in the process of its introduction.The journal will be published first in English and is also planned to be published in Chinese through a collaboration with a Chinese partner. We will feature theoretical and clinical contributions, philosophical and cultural explorations, applications such as the analytic study of art, cinema and theatre, social aspects of analytic thought, and wider cultural and social issues that set the context for clinical practice.

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Xie Yi Painting: A Chinese Cultural Therapy

ePub

Richard Wu

Abstract

China has, since the early 1980s, adapted to her outer reality of rapid urbanisation, industrialisation, and importation of Western models of thought. With stability and prosperity assured, she is now poised to reflect on her own inner reality and cultural continuity.

Much of China's cultural and ideological heritage was shaped by the Wen Ren (), sometimes translated as the scholar-gentlemen, or literati. A Wen Ren's quintessential legacy still widely practiced today is the painting genre known as Xie Yi (pronounced Sieh Yi, ); literally meaning writing mind. Xie Yi historically surged in the aftermath of social turmoil and provided shared cultural healing. This was achieved by creating paintings from the principles of communion with Nature and companion, non-interference, and the play of ink. Xie Yi heals by bringing the artist and viewer to a state of being at one with nature, and in the process, they both transcend worldly suffering, attaining the authentic and elemental within themselves.

 

A Contribution to the Psychodynamics of Tolerance

ePub

Tomas Plänkers

Abstract

This contribution examines the history of tolerance and intolerance, and the ideologies that contribute to prejudice and intolerance. A case example allows the author to illustrate some intrapsychic conditions in development that lead to particular forms of intolerance. These ideas taken from an example in the West have equal relevance for China in an era of the rise of nationalistic feeling and a resulting increased difficulty in tolerating minority populations and foreign ideologies.

Key words: tolerance, intolerance, prejudice, ideology, psychoanalysis.

 

At its twenty-eighth general conference in 1995, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a declaration concerning tolerance as a “necessity for peace and for the economic and social advancement of all peoples”. Tolerance, it is emphasised, is not synonymous with giving in, with condescension or leniency, but rather is understood as an active attitude interconnected with the basic freedoms of others. It is pointed out that tolerance must be practiced by individuals, by groups, and by nations. “It means accepting the fact that human beings, naturally diverse in their appearance, situation, speech, behavior and values, have the right to live in peace and to be as they are. It also means that one's views are not to be imposed on others” (UNESCO, 1995).

 

Psychoanalysis and the Understanding of Chinese Life Experience

ePub

Alf Gerlach

Abstract

The author shares his observations of the encounter of psychoanalysis with the Chinese mind, based on thirty years of work in China and twenty years training Chinese clinicians. The first trainees experienced the Cultural Revolution as children and often developed coping mechanisms including defensive idealisation and other defences that precluded appropriate working through of aggression towards parental figures. Later generations of trainees did not think of the cultural trauma, and experienced few sibling issues because they have come from the one child generation, but they then have developmental issues frequently resulting in narcissistic personality, often enhanced by special political or familial treatment. The author discusses issues of the improved status of women and the imbalance of male–female ratio among young adults, and illustrates some of the issues through vignettes taken from training experiences. He considers the conflict between Confucian loyalty to family and the emerging entrepreneurial culture in China, as well as the role of wide-spread poverty, and finally poses the question whether there are unique qualities to the Chinese unconscious that correspond to observations by ethnographers.

 

Creativity and Transformation of the Psyche: Expressive Image Therapy

ePub

Cai Chenghou

Abstract

This paper presents the psychic development of a depressed woman (Alice) suffering from trauma. The expressive image therapy included sandplay therapy, drawing and dream analysis, and focuses on images of her inner world. In the two-year treatment, many images emerged spontaneously. The coagulating effects of creative images upon obscure and chaotic feelings are presented. Through this psychic journey, her complexes are confronted and are transformed. The emergence of creative images helps integrate and transform broken fragments of her psyche. Consequently, Alice moved beyond initial confinement of defence and alienation, and gained spiritual integration and a certain degree of individuation.

Key words: expressive image therapy, sandplay therapy, image, transformation.

INITIAL IMPRESSION AND GENERAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Alice is twenty-five years old, tall, with long dark hair, gentle, frail-looking, shy, and emaciated. Occasionally, she gives a pale but tenacious smile.

 

A Commentary on Cai Chenghou's “Creativity and Transformation of the Psyche”

ePub

A Commentary on Cai Chenghou's “Creativity and Transformation of the Psyche”

Marta Tibaldi

Abstract

The author describes the Jungian theoretical and clinical orientation she shares with Cai Chenghou in the light of differences between Chinese and Italian cultures. She considers the basic elements of psychoanalytical treatment including and beyond offering space for the emergence of images, together with the essential elements of therapeutic interaction. She expresses some difference in the understanding about the diagnostic status of the case presented, and then outlines her view of the value of having therapists retain states of not knowing in order to be able to discover new truths about their patients. Finally, she wonders if at times Chinese colleagues take Jung's ideas too literally, and in that way foreclose the metaphorical richness they offer.

Key words: Jung, culture, therapeutic interaction.

 

In his “Commentary” to The Secret of the Golden Flower, the ancient Chinese alchemical treatise, Jung underlines the risk that Westerners run when they want to integrate Eastern practices embracing the illusion of becoming Easterners without considering their unconscious matrix and their cultural premises (Jung, 1931, p. 14). Our deep psyche—adds Jung—is highly steeped in typically Western symbols and myths and we have to start from it to achieve a real confrontation with the Eastern world. The risk is to mimic something that does not belong to us and that is not ours in cultural terms. Mutatis mutandis, I would say that Easterners run a similar risk towards the Western practices when they do not to take into consideration the Western cultural premises, losing what their Eastern unconscious matrix can add to the Western practices.

 

What are the Characteristics and Concerns of High and Low Raters of Psychodynamic Treatment to Chinese Students Over VCON?

ePub

Robert M. Gordon, Jane Tune, and Xiubing Wang

Abstract

In an earlier study, Gordon and colleagues (2015), surveyed 176 therapists, supervisors, and teachers in the China American Psychoanalytic Alliance (CAPA) and found that the psychodynamic constructs hold up well when treating Chinese patients over videoconferencing (VCON). Over-all, expert raters felt that psychodynamic treatment over VCON was only slightly less effective than in-person treatment. However, there were a small number of therapists who had strong feelings against VCON treatment. In this study we asked what differentiated low raters from higher raters of treatment effectiveness. This study focused on the ninety-four therapists, who completed the survey questions on treatment issues. As hypothesised, gender and profession (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and others) were not significantly related to how therapists rated the effectiveness of treatment over VCON. Also as hypothesised, the number of years doing therapy and number of years using VCON were also both not significantly related to how therapists rated the effectiveness of treatment over VCON. As hypothesised, low effectiveness raters and higher raters significantly differed on all the questions regarding specific psychodynamic variables over VCON: symptom reduction, exploring mental life, working with transference, working though relational problems, working with resistances, privacy concerns, and countertransference (p < 0.001 for all these comparisons). Low raters felt that exploring the mental life of the patient was most affected by VCON and working on transference was least affected by VCON.

 

Mother, Infant, and Woman's Identity

ePub

Jun Tong

Abstract

The author discovers a woman's life story from a Confucian family written almost hundred years ago, describing how Confucian devaluation of women affected Chinese women's sexual and gender identities. She thinks, “What is strange in this story is the question of where do these mothers come from who raise other nameless women? Are men also raised by these nameless creatures?” The author describes what she learned from her clinical observation about how a new young generation of Chinese women build their feminine identity nowadays.

Key words: feminine identity, oppression of women, Confucian ideals, depression.

CULTURAL BACKGROUND

In 1998, while wandering in a bookshop near Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the US, a book which gave me the message, “In China, woman means nothing” (Pang-Mei Natasha Chang, 1996). This book was connected with a famous poet Xu Zhimo who lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The author was the niece of Xu's ex-wife. She was born in the US, where her parents had immigrated in the 1940s. She had a training background in psychology and education. This book is mainly about the life of the author's aunt—Zhang Youyi, the famous poet's ex-wife. She had taken good care of her ex-parents-in-law and her ex-husband with his new wife even though her ex-husband betrayed her in marriage. Drawing from her aunt's life story, the writer explored woman's identity in China from the 1910s to the 1940s.

 

Interview of Sverre Varvin

ePub

Jia Xiao-Ming

Abstract

Professor Jia Xiao-Ming interviews Dr Sverre Varvin, founder of the Sino-Norwegian Training Programme in China and current Chair of the International Psychoanalytic Association's China Committee. Dr Varvin shares elements of his personal history and his professional experience of establishing training for analytic psychotherapy in China, and offers opinions about the challenges inherent in cultural differences.

Key words: Chinese culture, psychoanalytic training, development of psychotherapists.

 

Jia Xiao-Ming: Before the formal interview, I would like to say, it is my great pleasure to be here, having this opportunity as a host to interview Professor Sverre Varvin. I take this chance as a special gift given by Sino-Norway programme. The fact is the first training that Professor Varvin gave to us was held here, at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. In the first training, Professor Shi Qijia and I, as Chinese teachers, worked in the same group with Prof. Varvin. I think I've learned a lot of working experience from Prof. Varvin. Then, when I joined the supervision group of the Sino-Norway training programme, I learned how to do supervision from Professor Varvin. For me, ten years passed, I have learned a lot from Professor Varvin. It is hard for me to pick up some words to conclude some experience. So, this is a very special opportunity for me to have a conversation with Professor Varvin. I guess I have a lot of idealisation towards him. I think he is smart, intelligent, and full of energy. And it seems that he is very knowledgeable about Chinese culture. Sometimes we called him the “Monkey King”. But this time, I am surprised and kind of sad, because he is sitting in a wheel chair. Around this situation, I will raise my first question. I really want to know, Professor Varvin, an analyst, what do you think of your health conditions?

 

Book Essay: A Bridge for Introducing Psychoanalysis to China. Five Concepts Proposed to Psychoanalysis

ePub

Book Essay: A Bridge for Introducing Psychoanalysis to China.
Five Concepts Proposed to Psychoanalysis by François Jullien,
Grasset, 2010

Reviewed by Almatea Usuelli

In this essay, I would like to revisit a subject I started two years ago in Beijing, when I had the pleasure of presenting a paper to the IPA Asia congress. At the time, while I was telling the story of Matteo Ricci, also known as Li Madu, I dwelled on the difficulties that the Jesuit missionary encountered in his attempts to evangelise in China. I believe that we face similar difficulties today in our efforts to introduce a Western discipline, such as psychoanalysis, to a different culture, such as the millennia-old Chinese culture. I do not want now to dwell on the difficulties inherent in this exchange, but I would rather like to look into the shared aspects of Chinese and psychoanalytic thought and culture. These shared parts are hidden in apparent differences, but once discerned can provide a more solid base for our encounter. These deeper similarities contrast with superficial and deceptive similarities which can obscure differences, and obscure the originality of the thought that defines them.

 

Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

ePub

Reviewed by Sverre Varvin

The author, when working as reporter in the Iraq war, was asked by a soldier while following a mission: “Have you ever been blown up before, sir?”

The question came one day before he himself was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. “Everything was fine until it wasn't,” the author continues. In hindsight he wonders if the soldier's question was a clue, a warning, that something may happen, and he goes on to reflect on the phenomena of “apophenia”: “finding patterns where there shouldn't be patterns”, a phenomena well-known to survivors of traumatisation who spend a lot of energy looking for signs of danger.

This episode and the following reflections bring the reader right into the enigmas of the post-traumatic mind. “Trauma destroys the fabric of time”, he cites a prominent psychoanalyst for having said. “In normal time, you move from one moment to the next, sunrise to sunset, birth to death. After trauma, you may move in circles, find yourself being sucked backwards into an eddy, or bouncing about like a rubber ball from now to then and back again…. In the traumatic universe, the basic laws of matter are suspended: ceiling fan can be helicopters, car exhaust can be mustard gas” (page xii).

 

When the Sun Bursts: The Enigma of Schizophrenia

ePub

Reviewed by Ronald Abramson

In most modern psychiatric thought and practice, schizophrenia is said to be a biological brain disease for which treatment must mainly involve pharmaceuticals and other organic treatments (Lieberman & Oga, 2015; Torrey, 1986). Due to this hyper-reliance on pharmacology, psychoanalysis is often loosely classed with mesmerism, phrenology, and other obsolete and fanciful ways of diagnosis and treatment. Even among many psychoanalysts, it was thought that schizophrenia and other psychoses were not amenable to treatment with psychoanalytic methods (Deutsch & Roazen, 1985; Gaburi, 1982). However, there has always been a substantial school of thought within psychoanalysis that has championed the use of psychoanalytic methods and has reported significant improvements in patients and even cures. I remember reading I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (Greenberg, 1964), which was a recounting of a successful psychoanalysis of a schizophrenic young woman by the psychoanalyst Frieda From-Reichmann. Christopher Bollas is important in the ranks of psychoanalysts who treat schizophrenia. This sensitive, personally revealing, and profoundly perceptive book documents his career in learning about the nature of schizophrenic minds and how to treat them.

 

Theatre Review

ePub

Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood,

first performed at the Almeda Theatre, London, 20 May, 2013;

transferred to Harold Pinter Theatre, London, 6 August, 2013.

Revived at Studio Theater, Washington DC, September/October, 2015

Reviewed by David Scharff*

“In ancient Greek myth, a ‘chimera’ was a fire-breathing monster with a lion's head and a serpent's tail. In Lucy Kirkwood's drama, (2013) Chimerica is something bigger and scarier than that. The word was originally coined by historian Niall Ferguson to describe the globally dominant, co-dependent relationship between trigger-happy spendthrift America and control-freak, money-grabbing China” (McGinn, 2013).

Chimerica opens with the iconic photograph of Tiananmen Square, 4 June, 1989. We see the “Tank Man” who blocked the advance of a tank towards the protesters, his back to us. A shopping bag in each hand, he faces the tank, which then refuses to run him down. The playwright's script instructions read, “It is a photograph of one country by another country.” Cultural and political encounter is the theme of the play, played out in the fictional and intensely personal portrait of two denizens of cultures that are in conflict and contrast in so many ways. Joe Schofield, who took the photo as a neophyte news photographer at the age of nineteen, now seeks to find the legendary, if now all but forgotten, “Tank Man” twenty-three years later, just as, in America, Obama seeks re-election against Mitt Romney.

 

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