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  • Introduction
  • Marilyn S. Jacobs

For psychoanalysts in the 20th Century, the juxtaposition of psychoanalysis and Soviet Russia was not a realistic endeavor. Implicit in Soviet culture was an anti-Freudian ideology. Freud was considered to be "criminal number one" from the perspective of organized Soviet psychology and his theories were censored and condemned (L. A. Radzikhovskii as quoted in Miller, 1998). The exception to this forbidden status of any psychoanalytic thought was as a means of study of the decadent West. In the late 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev's program of perestroika (political restructuring) and glasnost (cultural openness) ushered in the beginning of many ideological changes in Russia. The acceptance and beginnings of a psychoanalytic movement was one of the outcomes of that historical shift.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, intellectuals and professionals in the newly formed Russian Federation have shown a remarkable interest in the theory, technique, and applied aspects of psychoanalysis. A flurry of movement west to east was established wherein American and Western European psychoanalysts and social scientists have traveled to Russia to provide training and supervision as well as cross cultural exchanges with their Russian counterparts. American psychoanalytic organizations (e.g., The Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychoanalytic Association) have endorsed their members becoming involved with the Russian psychoanalytic movement and have offered financial support and academic interest.

Most of the psychoanalysts from North America, Western Europe, and elsewhere who traveled to Russia during the 1990s were quite moved by what they experienced. There were few books and journal articles available in a Russian language edition. There were no training and supervising analysts in Russia. There was a lack of health care, institutional structures, professional training standards, or credentialing for psychoanalytic practice. [End Page 1] The economic instability (especially after the collapse of the ruble in 1998) contributed to the impossibilities of the procurement of psychoanalysis within the society.

With the determination to establish a market economy in Russia, psychoanalysis was now a potential commodity. Competing interests vied for power over psychoanalysis. There was also the challenge to the mind of many Russians interested in psychoanalysis as to which psychoanalysis to adopt. Russia had abandoned its psychoanalytic movement when there were only the early writings of Freud. Seventy years and a plethora of theoretical orientations within psychoanalysis made the choices and the philosophical issues complicated. Many of the issues involved in establishing a psychoanalytic presence in Russia involved the lack of institutional structures to contain such a cultural entity.

Certainly, psychoanalysis as a treatment intervention for mental illness was and is a welcome source of potential in Russia. Russia is a country whose medical establishment had exclusively relied upon a biological model and where psychotherapy did not exist except as a tool of political repression. It was also a place where the incidence of mental suffering was inordinate and linked to a brutal history. Yet, it was a nation of citizens who were socialized to fear openness and self-expression, the very elements at which any psychoanalytic movement would be directed.

The enthusiasm of Russian intellectuals and the newly evolving mental health professions for the development of a tradition of psychoanalytic theory and technique is a complex and riveting phenomenon. The transformation of a closed and repressive society to one where there is self-awareness, self-realization, and self-determination is as dramatic a shift in the collective psyche as can be imagined. The limitations of economic development and social acceptance are barriers to the enthusiasm of the enlightened.

The writings in this issue of American Imago are a representation of the recent history of psychoanalysis in Russia. They represent the process that developed as a result of the interest of Russian intellectuals and professionals in psychoanalysis and the interest of American psychoanalysts in Russia's attempt to develop its interest. Nina Vasilyeva (St. Petersburg State University and the Early Intervention Institute, St. Petersburg) [End Page 2] richly traces the history of Russian psychology and the evolution of psychoanalysis with the idea that "countries like individuals have their own life cycles and their fate." Similarly, Marina Gulina, (Faculty, St. Petersburg State University) presents a realistic appraisal of...


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