• Email
  • Print

Not an Anthropologist

In response to:

Bringing Up Raja from the December 16, 1993 issue

To the Editors:

I would like to correct serious misrepresentations of myself and my viewpoint in Rosemary Dinnage’s review, “Bringing Up Raja,” of Stanley Kurtz’s All the Mothers Are One [NYR, December 16, 1993]. Rather than being an anthropologist as she stated, I am a psychoanalyst who worked for a year on grants doing psychoanalytic research in India and for over fifteen years with Indian patients in New York City. A far more important misrepresentation is her associating me with Sudhir Kakar, Morris Carstairs, Mintern and Lambert, and Renaldo Maduro, all of whom are varyingly involved in “psychoanalytic imperialism,” the misapplication of the schema and norms of Freudian psychoanalysis to Indian child rearing and the Indian psyche.

Those familiar with my work (In Search of Self in India and Japan: Toward a Cross-Cultural Psychology, Princeton University Press, 1988, and a number of published papers) know that I have detailed a comprehensive reworking of Freudian psychoanalysis to be much more in keeping with the basic psychological makeup and child rearing of Indians and Japanese; and that I have formulated at considerable length the various dimensions of the Indian familial self—as contrasted with the Western individualized self—as it is rooted in the complex hierarchical and intimacy relationships of the Indian extended family, with its requisite child rearing. I have also formulated a spiritual self in continuity with and counterpoint to the familial self.

As Daniel Goleman wrote in the New York Times, March 7, 1989, “One of the most extensive criticisms of Western psychology has been made by Dr. Roland in his book…. Dr. Roland’s analysis of patterns in India and Japan led him to conclude that many fundamental differences hinge on the Western emphasis on raising children to be independent, in contrast to the Eastern focus on cultivating an intense emotional closeness and sense of dependency.”

I would appreciate your publishing this letter to set the record straight.

Alan Roland
New York City

Rosemary Dinnage replies:

I apologize for misrepresenting Dr. Roland as anthropologist rather than psychoanalyst. I should also have made clear that the view that Dr. Roland’s work does not entirely relinquish the Western-centered viewpoint is Stanley Kurtz’s (pp. 41,52, 205–214, and 278 of All the Mothers Are One).

  • Email
  • Print