The Freud Museum


What is the effect of culture on the unconscious?

The unconscious and culture are closely intertwined. After all, the conventions and traditions of a culture are often transmitted to us by our parents. The psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan discussed a patient who complained of all sorts of symptoms related to one of his hands. During the analysis, it emerged that his father had lost his job over an accusation of stealing. The patient had grown up in a region of North Africa where the prevailing religious tradition was Islam. He related to Lacan that according to the Koran a thief must have his hand cut off as punishment. A cultural value had provided a means of expression for an unconscious preoccupation with his father's status.

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