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J Anal Psychol. 2009 Sep;54(4):475-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-5922.2009.01798.x.

Going home: migration as enactment and symbol.

Abstract

The concepts of home and migration are briefly explored. Reference is made to the reflections of several writers on migration suggesting that migrants may experience alienation, even permanent melancholia. There is discussion of the need to mourn what has been lost and left behind, and of the challenge in analytic work with a migrant to relate to the pain of the individual's core self amid environmental and cultural losses. The paper outlines the history of an individual before her migration from Latin America to London, and tendency to idealize as a new arrival. The symbolization process is discussed and it is suggested that repetitive enactment in the analytic transference may have been needed for her internal reality of estrangement to be confirmed and differentiated from her culturally and socially isolated external life as a migrant. Only then could she mourn losses and symbolize her inner reality. It is suggested that through mourning and symbolization the significance of migration for the patient was worked with and transformed so that, following a second migration, an ordinary, good enough home could be made in a new place.

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