Psychodynamic Perspectives on Asylum Seekers and the Asylum-Seeking Process: Encountering Well-Founded Fear, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Psychodynamic Perspectives on Asylum Seekers and the Asylum-Seeking Process

Encountering Well-Founded Fear, 1st Edition

By Barbara K. Eisold


162 pages

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Paperback: 9781138354456
pub: 2019-02-08
Hardback: 9781138354418
pub: 2019-02-11
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429424793
pub: 2019-01-10
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Psychodynamic Perspectives on Asylum Seekers and the Asylum-Seeking Process looks at the psychosocial assessment of asylum seekers from three perspectives: forensic, psychodynamic, and political and then attempts to better understand, from a psychodynamic perspective, differences in the historical/motivational routes of asylum seekers themselves.

Barbara Eisold begins in Chapter One by exploring the unique evaluation relationship of psychosocial assessment and the striking will to survive of the asylum seekers that it puts into focus, using a psychodynamic lens. The forensic value of psychosocial assessment and its potential as both a political and a therapeutic tool are then described. Chapter Two describes individuals, who, by background and personal characteristics, shared a profound desire to protest, gravely compromising their survival at home and forcing them to seek asylum elsewhere. Chapter Three discusses women who have suffered female genital mutilation and includes a discussion of the development of strong personal agency in one case. Chapter Four describes abused women from Central America forced to flee from femicide. The evolution of femicide is explored, including the development of honor-bound machismo and the wide-spread disregard of law. The hold men have on women is then examined from a psychodynamic perspective.

Psychodynamic Perspectives on Asylum Seekers and the Asylum-Seeking Process will be of great interest to psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic psychotherapists, and all mental health professionals working with asylum seekers.


"Barbara Eisold’s new book brings a deeply humane, emotional voice to our understanding of the plight of those who seek political asylum in the US. Eisold’s clinical background as a psychotherapist, along with her years of experience evaluating those whose human rights have been egregiously violated in their home countries, helps us gain an experience-near view of the asylum process, which is under grave threat now. Her candor about what motivates her to do this work – the helplessness of the citizen hearing daily about the egregious violations of human rights occurring around the world – is inspiring. Eisold helps us see that mental health professionals can make a difference, one asylum seeker at a time."-Kerry J. Sulkowicz, MD, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst; Board Chair, Physicians for Human Rights; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine; Managing Principal, Boswell Group LLC

"Few people have Barbara Eisold’s wide experience with asylum seekers and the challenging processes they encounter. "Well-Founded Fear" examines "heroic" asylum seekers, Central American women on the run, victims of female genital mutilation, and the forensic, political and affective aims of the psychosocial evaluation process. The cumulative effect of Eisold’s clinical tales encapsulates both the horror of our age and the power of one energetic, committed, psychodynamically trained clinician to make a change in an individual human life. This book should be essential reading for mental health clinicians involved in asylum evaluations."-Spyros D. Orfanos, PhD, ABPP, Clinic Director, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. Founder; Immigration and Human Rights Work Group

"Combining many years' clinical experience evaluating and treating refugees seeking asylum with a thorough understanding of the increasingly complex legal hurdles these asylees must negotiate, Well Founded Fear provides a comprehensive guide to mental health professionals and human rights activists who choose to work with this at risk population. In the current political climate, Eisold’s expertise in conducting interviews and preparing reports to persuade the courts that her clients’ fear of being returned to their country of origin is, indeed, well founded will prove invaluable."-Ghislaine Boulanger PhD, Wounded by Reality: Understanding and Treating Adult Onset Trauma

"As immigration has topped the national agenda, mental health professionals have moved to respond through asylum evaluations and treatment. Until this book, they have had insufficient clinical guidance. Eisold’s work skillfully fills that gap. She provides basic information while simultaneously helping us enter the inner worlds of refugees who’ve suffered so much to survive. Simultaneously, she gracefully illustrates how psychodynamic understanding can enrich our clinical work. This book will become essential reading for those conducting evaluations or treatment of asylum seekers and refugees."-Stephen Soldz, Director, Applied Social Justice and Human Rights Program, Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis

Table of Contents

Introduction Chapter One: The nature of psychosocial asylum evaluations: Implications for client and clinician Chapter Two: Heroic Asylum seekers from around the world Chapter Three: Female Genital Mutilation and the wish for "life": Cultural considerations in the development of personal agency Chapter Four: Central American Women on the Run: Feminicide and its history; Afterword; Appendix I: Asylum Law in Brief Appendix II: Imprisoning Asylum Seekers Appendix III: Outline: Prospective Affidavit of A Mental Health Professional in Support of An Asylum Seeker Appendix IV: Female Genital Mutilation: Facts and Figures Appendix V: Background information: My Clients/ Other Women with FGM

About the Author

Barbara Eisold has worked as an evaluator of asylum seekers in collaboration with a number of organizations, including Health Rights International, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and The Cardozo School of Law, where she is an associate faculty member. She is also a faculty member of the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy and maintains a private psychotherapy practice in New York City.

About the Series

Psychoanalysis in a New Key Book Series

When music is played in a new key, the melody does not change, but the notes that make up the composition do: change in the context of continuity, continuity that perseveres through change. Psychoanalysis in a New Key publishes books that share the aims psychoanalysts have always had, but that approach them differently. The books in the series are not expected to advance any particular theoretical agenda, although to this date most have been written by analysts from the Interpersonal and Relational orientations.

The most important contribution of a psychoanalytic book is the communication of something that nudges the reader’s grasp of clinical theory and practice in an unexpected direction. Psychoanalysis in a New Key creates a deliberate focus on innovative and unsettling clinical thinking. Because that kind of thinking is encouraged by exploration of the sometimes surprising contributions to psychoanalysis of ideas and findings from other fields, Psychoanalysis in a New Key particularly encourages interdisciplinary studies. Books in the series have married psychoanalysis with dissociation, trauma theory, sociology, and criminology. The series is open to the consideration of studies examining the relationship between psychoanalysis and any other field – for instance, biology, literary and art criticism, philosophy, systems theory, anthropology, and political theory.

But innovation also takes place within the boundaries of psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalysis in a New Key therefore also presents work that reformulates thought and practice without leaving the precincts of the field. Books in the series focus, for example, on the significance of personal values in psychoanalytic practice, on the complex interrelationship between the analyst’s clinical work and personal life, on the consequences for the clinical situation when patient and analyst are from different cultures, and on the need for psychoanalysts to accept the degree to which they knowingly satisfy their own wishes during treatment hours, often to the patient’s detriment.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health