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J E P - Number 15 - Fall-Winter 2002
The argentine crisis and psychoanalysis.
A General Introduction

Roberto P. Neuburger

December, 2001. Several weeks ago, in their front pages, newspapers began to publish daily a new thermometrical measurement, unknown hitherto: the riesgo pa’s (investment risk), steadily growing and reaching apparently unheard-of high(est) figures.
A seemingly common Friday, unusual multitudes flock to the banks to withdraw their deposits. This becomes more than evident, and reaches such proportions that the Economy Minister decides to tackle the problem actively. All banks are suddenly closed and withdrawals are limited to US$ 250 a week for each account. New measures, appearing each day, lead to even more restrictive features, and a new phenomenon appears: spontaneous groups of people meeting in the streets, either on foot or in their cars, the former slamming pans or casseroles (cacerolazos) and the latter wildly sounding their automobile horns. Supermarkets are subject to the assaults of plundering groups. President Fernando De La Rua, who had formerly shown himself to be so unconcerned that he even took part in the most formal ceremonies (e.g. bestowing honors to military officers) absolutely disconnected from the critical social atmosphere, takes a most unfortunate decision: he declares the state of siege. Protests rage and roar. Finally, the President resigns and almost “escapes” from the Government House in a helicopter, his back turned away from groups below fighting against police squads. The latter attack violently, causing the death of several citizens. Newspapers all around the world publish reports and photographs in their main headlines.
The Senate appoints a new President, Adolfo Rodr’guez Saa. The new man declares a new era and begins to meet every popular demand, proclaiming that the external debt shall no longer be paid; all Congressmen cheer in excited enthusiasm. Not even a week after this event, Rodr’guez Saa resigns, and the Congress must face the necessity of appointing yet another man. Former candidate against De La Rua during the last elections, Eduardo Duhalde, accepts the appointment and introduces his own way of dealing with the catastrophe, until new elections are held. These were programmed for April 27, 2003.
The editor of JEP put some questions to Argentinean psychoanalysts.
Psychoanalysis plays a significant role in Argentinean culture, and the opinions of psychoanalysts frequently appear in leading national newspapers. The answers that follow may give the reader an impression of this aspect, together with the extension of analysis’s potential to explain some of the social riddles at playŃa discursive position acknowledging the heritage of Freud’s seminal ideals in Civilisation and its Discontents.


(1) In psychoanalysis we usually overlook the question of the political impact of psychoanalysis. It is known that psychoanalysis is only possible in democratic and capitalist countries, never in a totalitarian state. We wonder if, besides, psychoanalysis is a factor of fortification of democracy. That is: is psychoanalysis only the result of democracy and capitalism, or is it partially its cause?

(2) Can psychoanalysis do anything in the long run to overcome the Argentine crisis or not?

(3) Three years ago the Argentine economy was going well and then it collapsed dramatically. Why? Some economists said: when the economy was going well, Argentines did not invest in the Argentine economy; the Argentines’ passion for all things foreign would then be the cause of the crisis.

(4) Is Argentina too centred on other countries? Insufficient narcissism?

(5) Does the passion for foreign (especially European) psychoanalysis damage the creative force of Argentine psychoanalysis?

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