China's Latest Boom: Freudian Analysis

Download Audio

Here & Now Guest:

  • Dr. Elise Snyder, professor of Psychiatry at Yale University

American psychiatrist Elise Snyder says when she went to China several years ago, she found a deep hunger for Freudian psychoanalysis, but no analysts.

Her new Chinese friends convinced her to set up a treatment and training program with American analysts via Skype. Dr. Snyder ended up founding the non-profit Chinese American Psychoanalytic Alliance which now has graduates working directly in China.

China has one of the highest rates of mental illness in the world according to the British medical journal, The Lancet. Snyder said one reason for that may be the country's incredible rate of change, which is hard to deal with even for occasional visitors.

But she sees something else in the Chinese patients.

"What they resemble are the children of Holocaust survivors," she told Here & Now's Robin Young.

Their parents, she explained, have never talked to them about the historical trauma experienced during the famines that killed over 40 million Chinese early in the communist era, or the brutal violence of Mao's cultural revolution, which turned family members and close friends against each other in an orgy of violence.

The effects of those historical experiences are still being felt in China generations later, just as they are in the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.

Article compiled by Here & Now's Hitesh Hathi

This segment aired on June 24, 2011.


More from Here & Now

Listen Live