Tobie Nathan :

Psychotherapy and Politics. The Theoretical, Institutional and Political Staxes involved in Ethnopsychiatry




In this article, the author replies to very hard criticism on the part of Didier Fassin in a previous issue of Genèses. He analyses the argument of his contradictor, showing that it is irrelevant from a social, political and clinical standpoint. The issue involves seeing how modern ethnopsychiatry practised in France has taken the risk of making a theoretical comparison between statements considered self-evidents by some anthropologists, such as those of belief and of symbolic effect, and other by psychoanalysts such as those of influence or suggestion. The author then goes on to insist on the methodological choices of ethnopsychiatry, which manifests greater interest in native tongues than in language as such, and in therapeutic approaches rather than pathologies. Ethnopsychiatry brings political stakes into play insofar as it introduces a new form of democracy open to contradiction - within the clinical approach itself. Its introduction into university curriculum has placed it at centre of an institutional debate concerning possible regulation of ethnopsychiatric practise and teaching psychotherapy in the university. Finally, the author brings out certain misunderstandings, particulary concerning how a sense of cultural belonging is "built up" and explains th, ethnopsychiatry is not seeking to be psychiatry specifically for immigrant workers, but rather wishes to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the presence of immigrants to rethink the way we understand and take charge of psychological disorders in the West.


Genèses, 38, mars 2000, 136-159





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