Psychoanalysis and Community

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Psychoanalysis, Culture {&} Society, Volume 11, p.199–216 (2006)



In this position paper, we explore psychoanalytic and psycho-social interventions in communities. We start by looking at some of the historical developments in the United Kingdom of psychoanalytically informed professional practice and the way in which various strategies have developed for taking psychoanalysis into the community. We then go on to examine contemporary examples of this work in Bulgaria and South Africa, which the authors of this paper are involved in; these interweave with themes around HIV/AIDS, gender, masculinity, class and ethnicity. We conclude by offering some reflections about the relationship between psychoanalysis, practice and community intervention in which we ask a set of critical questions that we hope will stimulate debate.

Medical Humanities in Africa

WISER is working to establish the field of medical humanities in South Africa with other partners at Wits and in the region. Medical Humanities took root in the interdisciplinary spaces between social history of medicine, medical sociology, medical anthropology, literary studies, art and film studies, cultural studies, politics, philosophy, legal studies, public health, psychiatry, medical economics and medical ethics. Although initially concerned with contrasting and comparing approaches from the humanities and medical science to themes of health, suffering, therapy, pain and illness, it has grown in ambition to consider the foundational question of what it is to be fully human, inviting debate around vital epistemological problems. The interface of medicine and humanities also demands a broadly interdisciplinary discussion about what constitutes evidence, and this is critical in the formulation of all contemporary political arguments, including health policies. 

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