The Confucian Freud

Bingham Dai, Chinese Culture, and the Science of Transcultural Psychoanalysis. Online lecture with Professor Howard Chiang

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16 February, 2022, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Free with a donation to the Freud Museum.

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All registrants will receive their unique joining link after booking. All registrants will receive access to the recording 24 hours after the event, which will be available to catch up for 1 month. This event will be held as a webinar and participants will not be visible.

This lecture will provide an intellectual biography of Bingham Dai (1899–1996), arguably the first Chinese psychoanalyst.

Born in Gutian, Fujian, Dai received his doctorate at the University of Chicago in 1937, practiced psychotherapy at Peking Union Medical College from 1935 to 1939, and worked in the psychiatry department at Duke University from 1943 until his retirement in 1969.

Through the lens of Dai’s career trajectory, this lecture seeks to answer a number of questions: why would a foreign system of ideas such as psychoanalysis gain a foothold in modern China? In the absence of a professional network, in what ways was analysis practiced in non-Western institutional settings? What are the epistemological overlaps between Chinese humanistic philosophy and psychotherapy? How did psychodynamic science presage the rise of transcultural psychiatry and the growing importance of race and cultural concepts in mental healthcare across the Pacific?


Howard Chiang is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Davis and the Founding Chair of the Society of Sinophone Studies. He is the author of Transtopia in the Sinophone Pacific (Columbia University Press, 2021) and After Eunuchs: Science, Medicine, and the Transformation of Sex in Modern China (Columbia University Press, 2018), which received the 2019 International Convention of Asia Scholars Humanities Book Prize and the 2020 Bullough Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Global Encyclopedia of LGBTQ History (Gale, 2019), which was awarded the Dartmouth Medal by the American Library Association. He is currently working on a new monograph, tentatively titled Mind Hunters: Psychoanalysis and the Politics of Mental Health in the Sinophone Pacific (under contract with Columbia University Press).


This talk is presented as part of our Freud and China exhibition series, exploring Sigmund Freud’s Chinese objects in his collection, the application of psychoanalysis to Chinese thought (and vice versa), and the role psychoanalysis plays in mental health practices in China historically and today.


16 February, 2022
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Free with a donation to the Freud Museum.
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