1st Edition

Psychoanalysis in an Age of Accelerating Cultural Change Spiritual Globalization

By Neil Altman Copyright 2015
    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    Psychoanalysis in an Age of Accelerating Cultural Change: Spiritual Globalization addresses the current status of mental health work in the public and private sectors.  The careful, thorough, approach to the individual person characteristic of psychoanalysis is mostly the province of an affluent few. Meanwhile, community-based mental health treatment, given shrinking budgets, tends to emphasize medication and short-term therapies.  In an increasingly diverse society, considerations of culture in mental health treatment are given short shrift, despite obligatory nods to cultural competence.


    The field of mental health has suffered from the mutual isolation of psychoanalysis, community-based clinical work, and cultural studies.  Here, Neil Altman shows how these areas of study and practice require and enrich each other -  the field of psychoanalysis benefits by engaging marginalized communities; community-based clinical work benefits from psychoanalytic concepts, while all forms of clinical work benefit from awareness of culture.  Including reports of clinical experiences and programmatic developments from around the world, its international scope explores the operation of culture and cultural differences in conceptions of mental health.  In addition the book addresses the origin and treatment of mental illness, from notions of spirit possession treated by shamans, to conceptions of psychic trauma, to biological understandings and pharmacological treatments.  In the background of this discussion is globalization, the impact of which is tracked in terms of its psychological effects on people, as well as on the resources and programs available to provide psychological care around the world.


    As a unique examination of current mental health work, this book will appeal to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, community-based mental health workers, and students in Cultural Studies.


    Neil Altman is a psychoanalytic psychologist, Visiting Professor at Ambedkar University of Delhi, India, and faculty and supervisor at the William Alanson White Institute.  He is an Honorary Member of the William Alanson White Society and Editor Emeritus of Psychoanalytic Dialogues. Author of The Analyst in the Inner City: Race, Class, and Culture through a Psychoanalytic Lens (Routledge, 2nd edition, 2010)

    PREFACE, INTRODUCTION: PSYCHOANALYSIS, COMMUNITY-BASED CLINICAL WORK, CULTURE, PSYCHOANALYSIS AND CULTURE, Psychoanalysis suffers from elitism and isolation, The culture of psychoanalysis reflects the cultures of psychoanalysts. The significance of locating psychoanalysis culturally, Culture in psychoanalytic clinical work PSYCHOANALYSIS AND COMMUNITY BASED CLINICAL WORK, Some Background about community based clinical work, "Evidence Based" manualized treatment, The psychoanalytic notion of countertransference is essential in community-based clinical work. A Psychoanalytic perspective can be useful in non-clinical community-based work. CULTURE AND COMMUNITY BASED, PSYCHOANALYSIS, COMMUNITY BASED CLINICAL WORK AND CULTURE: THE THREE IN INTERACTION, Forms of healing: spirit possession, summoning of spirits, exorcism, A visit to the Nizamuddin Mosque in New Delhi, Spirit possession in India and around the world, Spiritual and psychological models, From Spirit Possession to Psychoanalysis: From Community-Based Healing to Office-Based Healing, CLINICAL WORK IN COMMUNITIES, Psychotherapy, In, Out of, and Around the Office, Training in Hospitals, Giving and taking in community-based work. Primary and Secondary Prevention Mental Health Programs: Psychoanalytically Informed Community Intervention, Pitfalls of Community Mental Health Programs without consideration of race, social class and culture, Whiteness, Hierarchy, and Linear Developmental Models, The analytic abuela, Therapist working in Schools. Hospital Based Therapists, Sangath: the work of Vikram Patel and his collaborators, consultants in community agencies, 7 Globalization and Mental Health. Some background, What’s in a word? History, Globalization and mental health, Mental health systems in the age of global capitalism: commodification and objectification of human beings. Commodification of Psychotherapy, Linear currents, non-linear dynamics, Psychotherapy outside capitalism? Social/Political Implications, The Commodification of mindfulness, Mental health systems in the context of global capitalism, Portugal, The United States, Conclusion and Prospects. REFERENCES


    Neil Altman is a psychoanalytic psychologist, Visiting Professor at Ambedkar University of Delhi, India, and faculty and supervisor at the William Alanson White Institute. He is an Honorary Member of the William Alanson White Society and Editor Emeritus of Psychoanalytic Dialogues. Dr. Altman is also the author of The Analyst in the Inner City: Race, Class, and Culture through a Psychoanalytic Lens, Second Edition, published by Routledge in 2009.

    "Altman’s book will help clinicians free themselves up to deal with the practicalities of situations… all practitioners interested In the transformation of health care systems will be informed by this book and find it enjoyable reading." – Rebecca C. Curtis, PSycCRITQUES

    Some might think that psychoanalysis has become an elitist activity – only available to the financially privileged, cut off from the pressing concerns of the majority of those needing help. Neil Altman is a psychoanalyst who would agree…. If any counsellor or psychotherapist is tempted to think that, because ‘psychoanalysis’ is not their field, they can dissociate themselves from Altman’s critique, they are mistaken. This is a book for all of us.- Chris Rose, psychotherapist, in Therapy Today

    Neil Altman’s Psychoanalysis in an Age of Accelerating Cultural Change is a must read for all students of the mental health field, psychologists, social workers, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, mental health professionals, and to anyone in interested in the current state and radical transformation of our health care system.  Altman has been a pioneer in exploring and teaching a generation of psychotherapists how to utilize the insights of psychoanalysis for populations who have not heretofore received its benefits, those in our inner cities, the poor, and racial and cultural minorities.  In his new book he pushes his teachings further, bringing into the conversation his expertise in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, community-based clinical work, cultural studies, all informed by his important critique of globalization and free market capitalism.  Freud and others have called for psychoanalysis to be a "psychotherapy for the people," Altman shows us how to get there and inspires us to make it come true. - Lewis Aron, Ph.D. is the director of the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis.

    Altman’s book opens our minds to the new cultural and social scenario marked by globalization where mental health professionals work and live today. His deep knowledge of cultural differences and their impact on our lives is now contextualized from his experience both in clinical and community settings. Contemporary psychoanalysis is not only a matter of office based practice, but has opened to the community, and as he says, needs to be practiced there if it is to survive with much social relevance, overcomig its roots in elitism and isolation. Facing a present focus on ‘evidence based treatments’, Altman gives us the opportunity to consider the many proposals and the most influential evidence, cultural and social, where professionals need to learn about opportunities that their countertransference offers in a culture-based practice. – Prof. Alejandro Ávila, PhD, Complutense University, Madrid Training member and honorary president of the Institute of Relational Psychotherapy and chair of IARPP’s Spanish chapter

    Neil Altman’s words flow with ease and grace as the book acquires a vibrancy nourished by real life illustrations of an involved psychoanalyst. The distinction of this extremely important and timely work lies in its ability to make us sit up and question the social injustice which inheres in the practice of mental health including that of psychoanalysis,  psychiatry and all modern visions of managed cure. By invoking the need for community work and a reflexive cultural sensitivity, he urges his colleagues to attend to the emotional needs of those relegated to invisible social peripheries. In times of rising capitalism and increasing globalisation, Neil Altman thus speaks to us from the depths of an awakened conscience and emerges as a unique voice, committed to humanising an engaged and relational psychotherapeutic-psychoanalytical approach. – Honey Oberoi Vahali, Dean, School of Human Studies and Director, Centre of  Psychotherapy and Clinical Research, Ambedkar University Delhi, India