All the Mothers Are One: Hindu India and the Cultural Reshaping of Psychoanalysis

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Anthropologists have often turned to psychoanalysis to make sense of child development, sexuality, religion, and the unconscious in varied cultures. The challenge has been to take advantage of psychoanalytic insight but to avoid applying Western models without regard to differing cultural circumstances. All the Mothers Are One seeks to resolve this dilemma by offering an innovative synthesis of psychoanalysis with contemporary theories of cultural difference. Using his ethnographic research in India, Stanley ...
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New York, NY 1992 Trade paperback New ed. New. CC30D

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Overview

Anthropologists have often turned to psychoanalysis to make sense of child development, sexuality, religion, and the unconscious in varied cultures. The challenge has been to take advantage of psychoanalytic insight but to avoid applying Western models without regard to differing cultural circumstances. All the Mothers Are One seeks to resolve this dilemma by offering an innovative synthesis of psychoanalysis with contemporary theories of cultural difference. Using his ethnographic research in India, Stanley Kurtz explores the psychology of Hinduism, opening with his account of his field discovery of a "new" Hindu goddess. Kurtz records his puzzlement that his Indian informants did not distinguish this goddess as a separate entity, but saw her, and all goddesses, as the multiple identities of a single comprehensive Mother Goddess. He then demonstrates how this complex transformation of goddess identities is rooted in the early experience of being raised by many "mothers" in the Hindu joint family. The creative, anthropologically informed psychoanalysis of Hindu culture that emerges yields a general method of reshaping psychoanalytic theory to fit the unique conditions of different cultures. This new, group-oriented developmental model is called "separation-integration," and holds that, in the Hindu case, the child moves away from the exclusive attachment to a single mother and toward immersion in the larger maternal group. This is in direct contrast to the Western model of "separation-individuation," wherein the child, aided by the father, moves away from the mother and toward individuated selfhood. This immersion in the Hindu maternal group plays a central role in the development of culturally distinctive feelings and needs that are carried over into adult life. The book concludes with a brief reflection on mothering in contemporary America. Through a systematic critique of previous scholarship that has emphasized the individual and the universality of the Oed
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Editorial Reviews

Gilbert Herdt
This book will take its place as a distinguished ethnography in the growing debate not only on the role of psychoanalytic thought in the interpretation of culture but also on the study of the symbolic forms of early childhood experience in a non-Western culture.
Robert A. Levine
Kurtz's meticulous scholarship and psychoanalytic interpretations are...presented in a lively style of writing that is very accessible and holds one's attention...an extremely interesting work as well as an original contribution to the psychoanalytic understanding of Hinduism.
Booknews
An anthropologically informed psychoanalysis of Hindu culture, revealing a "new" goddess discovered during the field work, not a separate entity, but, like all goddesses, the multiple identities of a single, comprehensive Mother Goddess. Traces the conception to the Hindu experience of being raised by many mothers, and investigates the implications for Western notions of self. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231078689
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 7/15/1992
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Stanley N. Kurtz recently received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard University and is currently a Fellow of the Committee on Human Development and the Center for Research on Culture and Mental Health at the University of Chicago.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword
Acknowledgments
Note on Transliteration
Ch. 1 Introduction: God in a Stone 1
Ch. 2 Santoshi Ma Dissolved--the Goddess Constituted 13
Ch. 3 Psychoanalytic Approaches to Hindu Child Rearing: A Critique 29
Ch. 4 Renunciation on the Way to the Group: A New Approach to Early Hindu Childhood 55
Ch. 5 The Ek-Hi Phase 91
Ch. 6 The Durga Complex 133
Ch. 7 Clinical Psychoanalysis in India: Toward a New Reading 177
Ch. 8 South Asia and Beyond: Obeyesekere and Spiro 221
Ch. 9 Toward a Cultural Reshaping of Psychoanalysis 245
Notes 267
References 285
Index 297
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