The body under the ordeal of otherness in the intercultural clinic, Y. Govindama

Abstract : This article intends to give an account of the implication of the body as a support of otherness in the intercultural clinical encounter. The body is replaced in its function of the transmission of cultural values, according to the theory of Mauss, and at once imposes difference (of generations, sex and culture). As a vector of difference, the body of the clinician and that of the patient are involved in an encounter which is, above all, human, subject of their human condition (a mortal being). From this place as human being, the clinician’s body, like that of his patient, is put to the test of otherness in transference and counter-transference such as Devereux demonstrated in his experiment with his patient, the plains Indian. Theoretical knowledge of the culture or psychoanalysis are not sufficient to manage this encounter, which puts to the test the « small primitive » in all of us, and which is reactivated according to the cultural gap which separates us, confronting us with this « stranger » inaccessible to symbolisation. Clinical illustrations taken from our clinical practice and research in the field underscore the effects of this encounter on psychic production and transfero-vs-transferential movements.

Neuropsychiatrie de l’enfance et de l’adolescence 51 (2003) 191-200 Available online

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