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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Dec 8, 2019

“We sat down in a meeting and I talked about adolescent sexual development and what I found was a tremendous resistance even in the community to hear about the issues of sexuality.”


Description: Harvey Schwartz welcomes Dr. Monisha Nayar-Akhtar, PhD, who did her adult and child psychoanalytic training at Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. She is a training and supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia as well as at the Psychoanalytic Association of New York. She is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of the journal Institutional Children: Explorations and Beyond, she is also on the editorial board of Psychoanalytic Inquiry and the Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Dr. Nayar-Akhtar is the author of two books: Play and Playfulness: Developmental, Cultural, and Clinical Aspects and Identities in Transition: The Growth and Development of a Multicultural Therapist. She is also the director of the Indian American Psychoanalytic Alliance. Today, we will learn about her work offering psychoanalytic consultations to an orphanage in India and the profound impact her work has had there.


Key takeaways:

[4:15] Dr.Nayar-Akhtar shares her sense of what psychoanalytic thinking can contribute to an orphanage.

[6:33] Most of the children in the orphanage in India had severe cases of trauma.

[7:38] Dr.Nayar-Akhtar talks about the series of workshops that were developed at the orphanage in Delhi directed to the social workers.

[9:54] The outcome of the first year of working at the orphanage: the development of a journal.

[12:30] The aim was to create a journal that addresses the needs of the population, has International recognition and brings forth analytic ideas.

[13:01] Dr. Nayar-Akhtar shares the clinical example of adolescents that leave the program when they turn 18 years old and the psychological implications in these young adults.

[17:22] Assisting the caregivers for them to feel heard.

[19:57] An example of the work with  young girls who were becoming sexually active.

[25:04] What lead Dr. Nayar-Akhtar to this work.

[28:55] Dr. Nayar-Akhtar talks about her goal of communicating about the impact of institutionalization.


Mentioned in this episode:

IPA Off the Couch

Journal Institutionalized Children: Explorations and Beyond


Recommended Readings:

Nayar-Akhtar, M.C.: On the seashore of sunshine homes: psychoanalytic perspective on working with institutionalized children in India: Children in Need: Analysts in Alternative Settings. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, (in press).


Akhtar, M and Ariely, Sumedha. G.: Attachment and Context:Evolving Perspective in a Clinical Realm. In Essays from Cradle to Couch, In Honor of the Psychoanalytic Developmental psychology of Sylvia Brody, 2017, pp. 137-171, IPBooks, Astoria, NY 11102


Heidi Keller: Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology originally published online 27 December 2012