The Poverty in Psychoanalysis: 'Poverty' of Psychoanalysis?

Manasi Kumar

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8 Citations (Scopus)


The article reviews psychoanalytic scholarship on the themes of poverty and deprivation available on the Psychoanalytic Electronic Publications (PEP-web). The article evaluates select definitions and explanations of poverty as illustrated in the scientific papers published in the PEP-web from 1933 to 2003 (covering 70 years) and finds that psychoanalytic scholarship has very little to say about poverty or the poor. In spite of references to the poverty of dreams, poverty of affect, poverty of intellect, there is in reality little engagement with 'real' poverty. The reasons and effects of this neglect are firstly traced to the attitudinal biases and beliefs held by the psychoanalytic authors which prevents them from acknowledging poor and deprived as worthy of their attention. The review also points out to great confusions, oversimplifications and neglect shown in the use of poverty and related terminologies. Absence of fuller appreciation of poverty is then traced to some philosophical quandaries in psychoanalytic epistemology such as the place of real versus psychic, culture versus individual and need versus value to cite a few. A third reason for this neglect may be attributed to the uneven spread, reception and development of psychoanalysis in different geopolit-zical locations, and the neglect in addressing these cultural differences could be behind these social inequalities remaining unaddressed in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalPsychology and Developing Societies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Poverty
  • cultural differences
  • psychoanalysis
  • social inequalities


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