21 March 2013
Doing Psychoanalysis in Tehran
Author's Talk - Gohar Homayounpour introduced by M Fakhry Davids
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 foreword was written by Abbas Kiorastami who is an internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker. His most recent film is 'Certified Copy', starring Juliette Binoche, and 'Like Someone In Love'.
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.
M Fakhry Davids MSc (Clin Psych) F Inst Psychoanal, is a psychoanalyst and adult psychotherapist in full-time clinical practice in London. He is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society, a Member of the Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists, and a founding Board Member of PCCA (Partners in Confronting Collective Atrocities). He has held academic and clinical positions in South Africa and the UK, and is a Visiting Lecturer at the Tavistock Clinic. He has written on a number of psychoanalytic topics, and has a long-standing interest in whether psychoanalysis is able to journey beyond its Western bourgeois birthplace across boundaries of race, class and culture. His book, Internal Racism: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Race and Difference, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011.