chapter  19
The Self in Culture
WithRobert A. LeVine
Pages 14

Recent trends in psychoanalytic theory and psychological anthropology show a common direction—away from abstract theoretical constructs and toward concepts grounded in observation and experience. There is a new concern with and respect for factual evidence, combined with a new suspicion of the conventions by which facts have been classified for theoretical and diagnostic purposes. In psychoanalysis, the theoretical innovations proposed by Kohut (1971, 1977) and Schäfer (1976) are based on the primacy of clinical observation in the psychoanalytic situation and use what Kohut calls “experience-near” concepts and Schafer calls “action language” to replace Freud’s abstract metapsychology of drives and structures. In psychological anthropology, there is also renewed interest in the personal experience of individuals and the interpersonal encounter between anthropologist and informant, now examined through ethnographic and biographical data without the intervention of psychological tests. This convergence of directions offers the possibility of a new relationship between two fields that have been connected since Freud’s (1913)’Totem and Taboo. In this chapter I shall present some concepts and methods I think will contribute to that relationship.