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J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1995;43(4):1051-84.

A third individuation: immigration, identity, and the psychoanalytic process.

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  • 1Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Institute, USA.


Immigration from one country to another is a complex psychosocial process with lasting effects on an individual's identity. The dynamic shifts, resulting from an admixture of "culture shock" and mourning over the losses inherent in migration, gradually give way to psychostructural change and the emergence of a hybrid identity. This paper delineates the factors affecting the psychological outcome of immigration and describes four interlinked strands in the fabric of identity change in immigrants. These involve the dimensions of drive and affects, interpersonal and psychic space, temporality, and social affiliation. Issues of idealization and devaluation, closeness and distance, hope and nostalgia, the transitional area of the mind, superego modification, mutuality, and linguistic transformation are highlighted. Implications of these ideas for the psychoanalytic process and technique in instances where the analysand, the analyst, or both are immigrants are briefly touched upon, as are caveats and limitations with regard to the proposed conceptualizations.

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