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“Social Anger and Apathy in Pakistan” (6) by AKHTER ALI SYED

A Psychopathological Perspective in Neo-Colonial Era. The thesis shall be published in episodes. A detail of references shall be given in last episode.

Is There Any Alternative to Psychoanalysis?

The postcolonial discourse has long been dominated by psychoanalysis. Generally the onset of interaction between the two has been traced back to Fanon’s work (Lane 2002), but Haratnack (1990) and Nandy (1995) found some earlier connections. It was Girindrasekhar Bose, who founded the Indian Psychoanalytical Society in 1922. Bose and his colleagues not only combined the psychoanalysis with Hindu mythology but made radical alterations to psychoanalysis to depict the state of civil disobedience in colonized India. In his interpretation of Oedipal complex, the son castrates the father in his reaction to the authority (Haratnack, 1990). It was not an easy to suggest in orthodox patriarchal India but the expression of Indian anguish needed this interpretation. Though, it was upsetting for Freud’s objective of making psychoanalysis a science applicable to all cultures, but Freud accepted Bose’s alteration and invited him to visit Vienna and asked him to become a member of the International Psychoanalytical Society. Fanon (1963/ 2001) refused to accept a rifle, in his analysis of a dream of one of his patients, as a penis. The scholars on colonialism have deviated and altered psychoanalysis on certain occasions, but it is true at the same time that colonial studies could not find any other school of psychology for better articulation of their basic subject matter. The main reason seems to be the hermeneutic potential of psychoanalysis. The scholars on colonialism found the room in psychoanalytical themes of human development, the unconscious, theory of conflict and disorder and the notion of defense mechanisms for the formulation of their theories. Even Sartre’s emphasis on phenomenology despite his involvement and influence on the struggle against colonialism could not change the trend. The use of hermeneutic approach in the realm of psycho-politics raises questions about the authenticity and reliability of the analysis.

The use of Akhter Ahsen’s Eidetic model brings the analysis into phenomenology, which not only empowers the colonized mind with better understanding without Fanon sitting beside the couch but promulgates better options to get rid of pathological fixation with the colonizer. As we have seen the employing of developmental themes of psychoanalysis to understand the inter-dependence. Bose used parent-child contact to describe colonized-colonizer relationship. Ahsen offered a more direct approach, without any inaccessible and esoteric unconscious involved, which not only helps identifying the pathology but carries the resolution in the same go. Ahsen proposed a triple code model of ISM to describe the experiential impact on the consciousness. I, denotes Image, the sensory recording of experience, S, denotes the somatic and physiological effect of experience, while M is the meaning or the cognitive interpretation of all emotionally significant experiences. Eidetic Image contains all the physical and cognitive details in it. (Hochman, 1995) Blocking the traumatic experiences is the source of psychopathology. Collective experiences would have their depiction in different forms of literature, folk lore, mythology and culture. If these modes of social expression stop expressing the trauma, which a particular society would suffer at a particular time, it would not only be pathological but also make the possibility of resolution very obscure. The sources of such expression seem to be gone imperceptible and minuscule in Pakistan. Even, the poetry produced on political issues of  late 1970s and early 1980s would find no match in 1990s and thereafter.  Nothing is being reflected except the symptoms like anger of violent nature and apathy at the level of numbness and detachment. The return to the images of trauma (of colonization and neo-colonization), Ahsen would suggest as the remedy.

Pakistan: Postcolonial or Neo-Colonial

After discussing Bhaba’s work it might be easy, at this stage, to differentiate postcolonial from neocolonial. Postcolonial, as Bhabha described is a discourse of colonialism while neo-colonial can be called as the furtherance and extension of colonialism in different shapes and forms.

The term neo-colonialism was coined by Kwame Nkrumah, (the first President of Ghana) in his booklet, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, (1965). This term refers to the former colonies, although are independent and sovereign states but former colonizers with the new emerging empires (particularly the US) would keep play the key role to decide their economic systems and political and cultural structures. The new structures of control would exercise their significance through Non Governmental Organizations and Corporations. “The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality, its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside” (Nkrumah, 1965). This new form of colonialism is not only very difficult to trace but very perilous to deal with.

Ashcroft, Griffiths & Tiffin (2000) described the wider use of the term, “it has been argued by some that the new elites brought to power by independence, and often educated and trained by the colonial powers, were unrepresentative of the people and acted as unwitting or even willing agents (compradors) for the former colonial rulers” (p.146). The term currently, in the era of Globalization, is being used as a parallel to Neo-Imperialism. “The role of modern NGO’s such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and especially non-governmental international aid and development organization such as UNESCO operate in areas of concern and through practice very analogous to organizations in the colonial periods like missions”   (Ashcroft, Griffiths & Tiffin, 2000. p.146). Nkrumah argued that this aid “to a neo-colonial State is merely a revolving credit, paid by the neo-colonial masters, passing through the neo-colonial State and returning to the neo-colonial masters in the form of increased profits”. Nkrumah also warned about this aid, which would be given to bring the neo-colonial State to “economic chaos and misery that revolt actually breaks out then, only then, is there no limit to the generosity of the neo-colonial overlord, provide, of course, that the funds are utilized exclusively for military purposes” (Nkrumah 1965. p. 8).

French philosopher and political activist Jean-Paul Sartre gave a much wider definition to the term neo-colonial. His articles in Colonialism and Neocolonialism comprised of discussions “moving from the ethical to the political, from a preoccupation with individual freedom to intellectual and political commitment, and the moral demand for an assumption of responsibility for each individual’s role in history” (Young 2001).

Note: The Article has been published before and has not been updated.

Dr. Akhtar Ali Syed is a famous Psychologist and writer. He is currently working in Ireland as Principal Psychologist. He also has a keen interest in Philosophy, religions, History and Humanity.

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