04/15/2024, 21:29, Vienna  DEUTSCH / ENGLISH

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Leading articles

THE VIENNA PSYCHOANALYST wants to give not only already internationally established psychoanalysts, but also still unknown psychoanalysts the opportunity to post a self-written and not yet published article on the FrontPage of our online magazine!

Our Users then can leave comments, ask questions or discuss the articles in our forum. Our aim is to provide an international platform where for the first time anyone interested in psychoanalysis can exchange ideas on certain topics.
Articles are welcome in German and/ or English.

If you are interested, please send your article to

(For reasons of readability, the male form is used with personal names, however the female form is also always intended.)




In our interview series "in conversation with“, we will briefly present the authors of the leading articles. We want to give our users the opportunity to read the leading article from a different point of view.

This week we are very glad to welcome Sudhir Kakar:

Psychoanalyst, novelist, and a scholar in the fields of cultural psychology and the psychology of religion. He has been Lecturer at Harvard University, Senior Fellow at the Centre for Study of World Religions at Harvard, as also Visiting Professor at the universities of Chicago, McGill, Melbourne and Hawaii. He was also a Fellow at the Institutes of Advanced Study, Princeton, Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin and Fellow at Centre for Advanced Study in Humanities at University of Cologne.
His many honors include the Kardiner Award of Columbia University, Boyer Prize for Psychological Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association, Germany’s Goethe Medal, Rockefeller Residency, McArthur Fellowship, and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. He is the president of the Delhi chapter of Indian Psychoanalytic Society and on the Board of the Freud Archives, Library of Congress.
Kakar is the author of eighteen books of non-fiction and five of fiction. His latest book is Young Tagore: The makings of a genius (Penguin-Viking, 2013). His books have been translated into twenty-two languages around the world.

DWP: What brought you to psychoanalysis?

Sudhir Kakar: A chance meeting and long conversations with Erik Erikson when he came to India to write his book on Gandhi.. I was an engineer-economist at the time and having what is called an identity crisis. I was lucky to meet the person who coined the term and was so taken in by him that I wanted to become what he was--a psychoanalyst.

DWP: If you had the opportunity to talk with Sigmund Freud, what would be the topic?
Are there any specific questions?

Sudhir Kakar:I would like to talk to him about the universality versus cultural relativity of many psychoanalytic concepts. My question would be, “ Do you think any human being, including a genius like you, can ever transcend his culture and historical time? As psychoanalysis travels, would it not need to be sensitive to different family systems, religious beliefs and cultural values from those of bourgeois Europe in which psychoanalysis had its origins?

DWP: Fabric or leather couch?

Sudhir Kakar: Fabric. India is a hot country; leather would be sweaty and uncomfortable.

DWP: According to Bruno Bettelheim and the importance of fairy tales in childhood. Will you tell us your favorite fairy tale? And do you see parallels to your own adult life?

Sudhir Kakar: What I heard in my childhood were Indian myths and legends rather than fairy tales. No doubt they served the same purpose but your audience would be unfamiliar with them.

DWP: What do you find good or particularly good in psychoanalysis and is there anything you do not like about it?

Sudhir Kakar: What I find good in psychoanalysis is its iconoclasm, its individual and social emancipatory potential. What I find a weakness is its (unconscious) Western cultural ethnocentrism in some of its theories and models.

DWP: What challenges did you have to face during your analytic training?

Sudhir Kakar: Since I trained in Germany, the biggest challenge was our very different cultural backgrounds. In other words, if during a session we sometimes suddenly became strangers to each other, it was because each of us found himself locked into his own specific cultural unconscious, consisting of a more or less closed system of cultural representations that were not easily accessible to conscious awareness.

DWP: Do you have a favorite Freud - quote?

Sudhir Kakar: Yes, and it is from Group psychology and Analysis of the Ego.“I like to avoid concessions to faint-heartedness. One can never tell where that road may lead one; one gives way first in words, and then little by little in substance too.”

Thank you very much for this conversation, we are already looking forward to your leading article!

Contact information of the author:
Sudhir Kakar

Sigmund Freud Museum SFU Belvedere 21er haus stuhleck kunsthalle
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