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This page presents the international work of members of Psychoanalytic Practitioners.  Our members are active in teaching psychoanalysis in different countries, and Kazakhstan is one of the most recent countries visited.  Below is some general information about Kazkhstan, a summary of the Round Robin article “Psychoanalysis in Kazakhstan,” and the full text of the article.  This page is a work in progress as the work of Psychoanalytic Practitioners members in other countries may be added at any time.


Kazakhstan covers two time zones and stretches from Siberia to the deserts of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and from China to the Caspian Sea. The topography of the country includes snow-capped mountains, deserts, flatlands, steppes, taigas or boreal forests, rock-canyons, and deltas.

Ethnic cultural centers have been established in all areas of Kazakhstan, to support ethnic identity of different nationalities. Their highest forum is the Assembly of peoples of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan, with its population of 17 million, gained independence from Russia on December 16, 1991.

The state language is Kazakh, but the Russian language is still used as a language of interethnic communication for the 131 ethnicities in the country.   Kazakhstan has 3% of the world’s oil reserves and 62% of the country is occupied by oil and gas areas.  More than 80 of the 172 oil fields, which are mostly in the western part of the country, are under development.  Since independence, Kazakhstan has been working to develop and expand its economy.

Since 1997, the capital city has been Astana, which has many amazing structures designed by architects all over the world.  It is the second largest city after the former capital, Almaty.  Almaty remains the financial center.  The monetary unit is the tenge (KZT).


Almaty literally means ‘city of apple trees,’ and, because of its relatively mild climate, has a wide range of apple trees.   The Almaty area is said to be the genetic home for many varieties of apples.  A traditional story links the taking of the apple from the tree in the Garden of Eden to Almaty.  The Turkic name for apple is Alma and Ata meaning forefather, which could lay it open to be possibly the origin of the Apple, the Garden of Eden.


Reported by Albert Brok, Ph.D.

The International Committee of Psychoanalytic Practitioners presented an exciting colloquy at the Division 39 Meetings in New York in April 2014 on International Analytical Work: Conflicts and Surprises Crossing the Border.  The participants were Anna Kudiyarova, PhD, Director of the Psychoanalytic Institute for Central Asia; Charles Bonerbo, MSW, who taught in Almaty, Kazakhstan; and your reporter.

We shall begin with Anna Kudiyarova, who shared her experiences of both learning about and developing psychoanalysis in Kazakhstan, then follow with my own observations and surprises in teaching via Skype, and conclude with Charles Bonerbo’s impressions of teaching psychoanalysis in Kazakhstan.

Dr. Kudiyarova provided a synopsis of the historically uphill battle for psychoanalytically oriented therapy in Central Asia. She said:

“In 1934, under the control of the Soviet Union, psychoanalysis was banned, including the Institute in Moscow. As a tragic consequence, psychoanalysis in Kazakhstan, a post-Soviet country, has become nonexistent as a method of treatment for mental disturbance. The population of the former Soviet Republics is not familiar with psychoanalysis.  This [eliminated] the rich conception of human experience that psychoanalysis provides. Now, since the independence of Kazakhstan, there is huge gap in access to analytic theory to overcome. In the Soviet era, mental conflicts were treated as a ‘deviation from majority of the people’ or a lack of chemical balance. A personal perspective was treated as a ‘bourgeois tendency,’ rather than an expression of genuine identity.  Now psychoanalysis is presenting the opposite: the individual versus the social perspective; the personal point of view versus social laws.”

Dr. Kudiyarova also shared information perhaps not well known in the United States:

“The incidence of depression and anxiety within the population of the Central Asian region including Kazakhstan has increased significantly over the past number of years as a result of the inability of the population to adapt to the radical changes to their lifestyles after the dissolving of the USSR. This often results in people feeling isolated, helpless, alienated, depressed, and suicidal. According to World Health Organization data for 2010, Kazakhstan has the third highest rate of suicide in the world. Moreover, Kazakhstan wins first place among twenty-four countries in the European region for suicide rates in girls of fifteen to nineteen years.”

She went on to suggest that:

“Kazakh people seem to keep their problems internalized, because they feel the need to be in complete control of their own lives, which ironically, depending on the severity of their illness, they are certainly not. This ideology and culture is strongly embedded in the people of Kazakhstan, and forestalls the progress of psychoanalytic understanding.”

Speaking of culture and understanding, I (Albert Brok) had the following surprise during my teaching Kazakh students via Skype.  The class of 20 was highly motivated, did the readings, and asked creative, incisive questions. I taught in English, and there was an adept interpreter. As we proceeded, I noticed that she was translating my lecture into Russian. Na├»vely, I asked, “Why aren’t you speaking Kazakh? After all, you are now an independent nation.”  There was a buzz among the students. The translator, after a brief befuddlement, advised they had never thought about why they communicated in Russian. It seemed that unconsciously they remained ensconced within the language of the dominant Soviet culture, while suppressing the value of their mother tongue.  This led to an extended discussion of “language imperialism” and identity, where a second language is used as a defense. Interestingly, when I asked which language they dreamed in, some indeed said Kazahk.

This opened up a lively discussion about how a second language can serve as a defense against the affect that is encoded in the mother tongue (Greenson, 1950; Pearson-Brok, 1987).

Being bilingual myself (English-Spanish), I shared some personal experiences as well as some of the research on this topic. We discussed the importance of noting which language is preferred by bilingual patients, as well as analysts. Thus quite serendipitously we discovered a fascinating topic concerning cultural and genetic/developmental dynamics as related to language, in vivo in our teaching moment. At this point in the colloquy, many in our audience, especially Laurie Wagner, Alan Roland, and some of the foreign students now studying in the United States, contributed their own thoughts and experiences on the issue of learning in a second language….

Charles Bonerbo’s experience:

…”[i]n the city of Almaty I found a rich mix of old and new, traditional and contemporary, often adjacent. There are ancient mosques and Russian Christian Orthodox churches with distinct architecture, as well as modern office buildings, hotels, high-end restaurants, and clubs.  Moreover, I was struck by the ethnic diversity. There were native Kazaks along with Mongolians, Eastern Europeans, Koreans, Chinese, Russians, and Orthodox Jews….The next four days of teaching, supervising, and consulting at this conference were pure joy.  I had the opportunity to experience fifty-eight intellectually hungry students who were astute and possessed a depth and breadth of the understanding of the concepts of psychoanalysis, from Freud to Klein, Winnicott, Kohut, and contemporary psychoanalysts. Moreover, their enthusiasm to learn more was energizing. My students’ questions and discussions were nothing less than what I would experience in a typical class of candidates in a psychoanalytic training institute in the United States. Their questions, asked both in Russian through an interpreter and in English were sophisticated and astute, ranging from technical questions of working with countertransference to how to differentiate from Oedipal and Pre-Oedipal defensive organizations.

Overall, I experienced a warmth and enthusiasm in my host country of Kazakhstan that widened my perceptions and understandings of Central Asia and what as psychoanalytic educators and psychoanalysts we can offer this region to assist them in their quest for deeper knowledge of psychoanalysis.

The colloquy ended with a pleasant surprise. Anna gave all the panelists gifts of traditional Kazakh garb, which we can be seen wearing in the photo….”


The mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi is an Islamic religious monument built in the Timurid architectural style.

Khodja Ahmed Yasawi is the most prominent religious figure in the history of Sufism (a mystic movement in Islam). He also was a poet and philosopher. He died in 1166 or 1167 (some sources say 1146), and was buried in a small mausoleum attracting many pilgrims.

It was Timur who erected the immense mausoleum over the burial vault of Ahmed Yasawi in the 14th century. In fact, the “Mausoleum” is more like a multi-functional building: a meeting hall, a mosque, an archive and with rooms for the serving staff. It’s situated in the town of Turkestan. After the death of Timur in 1405, the buildings remained unfinished. 


Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan, is extremely attractive to young strivers seeking success.   It has many new buildings with very interesting architecture, as architects from all over the world contributed designs.

One of the exciting new buildings, Khan Shatyr, opened in 2010.  The Khan Shatyr is a giant transparent tent.  After dark, the buildings change hues as the night progresses.

The Space Program in Kazakhstan

After spending nearly six months on the International Space Station, an astronaut and two cosmonauts have landed safely back on Earth. While in orbit, they traveled almost 71 million miles, NASA says.

Cmdr. Barry Wilmore of NASA and flight engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) touched down in Kazakhstan on Thursday morning, local time.

They began their trip home by undocking a Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft from the space station and undergoing a 4-minute, 41-second deorbit burn, NASA says. A parachute later eased the Soyuz craft down to the recovery area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

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