A country on the couch

The New York Times discusses Argentina’s love affair with psychoanalysis. A country that has more psychologists – the majority Freudian – than any other nation on Earth.

Argentina is genuinely unique with regard to psychology. Even in Latin America, where Freudian ideas remain relatively strong, Argentina remains a stronghold of the undiluted classic schools of psychoanalysis.

It is also unique in terms of the access people have to the practice. In the majority of the world, psychoanalysis is the reserve of the upper middle classes and aristocracy – both in terms of the analysts and the patients.

While the watered-down (some would say made sensible) psychodynamic psychotherapy is more widely available, psychoanalytic training and therapy is extremely expensive. You could easily spend a couple of thousand US dollars a month on therapy alone.

As trainees have to be taught, supervised and be in constant treatment themselves (although the latter usually at a discounted rate) it remains a practice by and for a very narrow group from society. If you want to see this for yourself, training institutes often have open evenings, which I highly recommend as an interesting anthropological field trip.

This elitism is much less the case in Argentina, however, meaning that people from all walks of life see psychoanalysts and Freudian-inspired commentary is an integral part of popular culture.

The NYT article is a little puzzled as to why psychoanalysis has gained such a foothold in the country. Of course, it received a great many psychoanalyst émigrés in the years surrounding the Second World War, as many were Jewish, but in covering similar ground myself, I wondered whether there are good psychological reasons for its continued popularity.

Link to NYT piece on psychoanalysis in Argentina.
Link to earlier piece by me on the same.

3 thoughts on “A country on the couch”

  1. Hmmm… Interesting…
    I wonder if there are any statistical data or research papers which explore corellation of this widly available psychological counsel and development of Argentinian economy or society wellbeing or something like that? I mean to ask does this country on the couch live better than other nations which are not on the couch? )

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