Argentina has more clinical psychologists per population than any other nation on earth. Simon Romero explores how this impacts their culture in The New York Times:
Argentines often manage a smile upon hearing that psychoanalysis has been on the wane in the United States and other countries, rivaled by treatments that offer shorter-term and often cheaper results than years invested in sessions of soul-searching. Even as Argentines grapple with high inflation and an economic slowdown, many seem to know precisely what they want (at least in one area of their lives): psychoanalysis, and plenty of it. […]A few years ago Vaughn Bell wondered why this might be in The Psychologist:
“There is no taboo here about saying that you see a professional two or three times a week,” said Tiziana Fenochietto, 29, a psychiatrist doing her residency at the Torcuato de Alvear Hospital for Psychiatric Emergencies, a public institution. “On the contrary,” said Ms. Fenochietto, who has been in therapy herself for the past eight years, “it is chic.”
Argentina is not just an anomaly for its quantity of psychologists, but for the saturation of psychology, and particularly psychoanalysis, in the culture. Psychoanalytic language is used in all levels of public discourse, from the discussion of celebrities to the weighing up of political decisions. Last year, the right-leaning paper La Nación ran an editorial critical of the country’s successive presidents, husband and wife team Nechor and Cristina Kirchner, suggesting that their policies could be explained by an oedipal struggle rooted in unresolved conflicts in their infantile sexual development. […]Both articles are worth a quick, but fascinating read.
In fact, clinical psychology in the whole of Latin America is heavily psychoanalytic and there are good historical reasons for this. With Argentina to the south and the United States to the north the intellectual traffic of the 20th century favoured the influences of the two most developed countries, where Freudian and neo-Freudian thought dominated mental health. But since working on the continent, I’ve realised there are other structural reasons as well. Evidence-based scientific psychology is simply much more difficult here. It requires access to journals, which are priced out of the range of most universities, let alone smaller clinics or individual practitioners, and it requires training in experimental methods, which is often thin on the ground.
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