Doing Psychoanalysis in Tehran

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Overview

Is psychoanalysis possible in the Islamic Republic of Iran? This is the question that Gohar Homayounpour poses to herself, and to us, at the beginning of this memoir of displacement, nostalgia, love, and pain. Twenty years after leaving her country, Homayounpour, an
Iranian, Western-trained psychoanalyst, returns to Tehran to establish a psychoanalytic practice.
When an American colleague exclaims, "I do not think that Iranians can free-associate!"
Homayounpour responds that in her opinion Iranians do nothing but. Iranian culture, she says,
revolves around stories. Why wouldn't Freud's methods work, given Iranians' need to talk?

Thus begins a fascinating narrative of interlocking stories that resembles --
more than a little -- a psychoanalytic session. Homayounpour recounts the pleasure and pain of returning to her motherland, her passion for the work of Milan Kundera, her complex relationship with Kundera's Iranian translator (her father), and her own and other Iranians' anxieties of influence and disobedience. Woven throughout the narrative are glimpses of her sometimes frustrating, always candid, sessions with patients. Ms. N, a famous artist, dreams of abandonment and sits in the analyst's chair rather than on the analysand's couch; a young chador-clad woman expresses shame because she has lost her virginity; an eloquently suicidal young man cannot kill himself. As a psychoanalyst, Homayounpour knows that behind every story told is another story that remains untold. Doing Psychoanalysis in Tehran connects the stories, spoken and unspoken, that ordinary Iranians tell about their lives before their hour is up.

The MIT Press

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Trained in the West, Homayounpour (psychology, Shahid Besheti Univ.) returned to Tehran after 20 years to teach and practice as a psychoanalyst. She details her Western colleagues' stereotypes and skepticism—what she terms "fascinated rejection"—regarding the possibility of free association (a key to successful analysis) in a country like Iran. She finds, however, that her patients are quite candid and amenable to psychoanalysis; as she observes, "pain is pain everywhere." She struggles with her own disorientation, feeling like a stranger in her motherland, negotiating the differences between East and West, and the challenges of homecoming after a prolonged absence. This is a relatively quick read that feels exactly like what the author intends, her own free-associative process. VERDICT Homayounpour's very personal account of reconciling herself to the pace and tenor of daily life, work, and relationships in Iran will provoke readers to think about their own lives, and about the relevant cultural differences—and the lack thereof. It's a nice balance of analytic introspection (think Freud and Lacan), literature, and philosophy that will appeal to like-minded readers.—Paula McMillen, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262017923
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2012
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,392,261
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Gohar Homayounpour is a practicing psychoanalyst in Tehran. She trains and supervises the psychoanalysts of the Freudian Group of Tehran and is Professor of Psychology at Shahid Besheti
University Tehran.

Abbas Kiorastami is an internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker. His most recent film is
Certified Copy, starring Juliette Binoche.

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