Landscapes of the Chinese Soul: The Enduring Presence of the Cultural Revolution

Editor : Tomas Plaenkers

Landscapes of the Chinese Soul: The Enduring Presence of the Cultural Revolution

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : May 2014
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 224
  • Category :
  • Category 2 :
    Culture and Psychoanalysis
  • Catalogue No : 32930
  • ISBN 13 : 9781780490939
  • ISBN 10 : 1780490933
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In 1981 the Communist Party of China declared: “The ‘Cultural Revolution’, which lasted from May 1966 to October 1976, was responsible for the heaviest losses suffered by the Party, the state and the people since the founding of the People’s Republic". The civilizational crisis called the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution still eludes our historical, political, and psychological understanding.

This book helps to fill the gap. It features twelve extended, psychoanalytically-oriented interviews, six with witnesses to the revolution and six more with sons and daughters. Team analysis of the transcripts is buttressed by sinological, historical, and social-psychological essays. The authors explore Chinese ways of processing the experience of violence, both individually and in collective memory, and identify psycho-traumatic consequences for witnesses and for the following generation.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘Tomas Plaenkers is one of the very few psychoanalysts who has a deep and long relationship with the development of psychoanalytic thinking in China. He and his research group have made a substantial empirical contribution to our understanding of the psychodynamic impact and aftermath of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, foregrounding their understanding of intergenerational trauma. This is an important and timely book that should be read both by those who have a specific interest in the development of psychoanalysis in China and also more broadly, as it provides a fascinating example of how psychoanalytic understanding can be used to investigate intergenerational trauma and its consequences for a culture in transition.’
— Dr David Bell, training analyst, British Psychoanalytical Society

‘This fascinating book deals with fundamental issues interwoven in mass phenomena, political violence, trauma, and the tension between oblivion and memory, explored in the life of first and second generations of the victims. There is an ethical perspective in “the attempt to penetrate the past as meaningful and clarifying for the present – and as an aid to preventing any future repetition of such events”.’
— Clara Nemas de Urman, training and child analyst, Buenos Aires Psychoanalytic Association

‘In this remarkable book, we get an insight into the consequences of the social upheaval caused by the Cultural Revolution in China. The book demonstrates how psychoanalysis integrated with insights from other disciplines can give a culturally sensitive perspective on how the consequences of massive social traumatisation lives on in everyday life and make demands on the coming generations. Destabilising upheavals in a society where social harmony is preferred set in motion complicated processes that are difficult to heal. This book represents an opening to what may be necessary for reconciliation and recovery to happen.’
— Sverre Varvin, MD, Dr Philos, training analyst, Norwegian Psychoanalytical Society

‘Thirty-seven years after the ending of the Cultural Revolution, this compelling and groundbreaking book explores its historical, social, and personal dimension, giving a language of meaning to what has been a traumatic and violent past for millions of Chinese. This book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding modern China and in reflecting on the de-humanising impact of historical events.’
— Maria Teresa Hooke, training analyst, Australian Psychoanalytical Society

About the Editor(s)

Tomas Plänkers, DPhil, Dipl.-Psych., is a member of the Sigmund Freud Institute in Frankfurt am Main, working in private practice and as a training analyst member of the Frankfurt Psychoanalytic Institute. From 2000 to 2005 he taught analytic psychotherapy at the Shanghai Mental Health Center in China, training Chinese psychiatrists and psychologists. He heads the research project ’Forms of Biographical Processing of Social Upheavals, as Exemplified by the so-called Cultural Revolution in China’.

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Psychoanalysis in Asia: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan

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