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Bose, Girindrasekhar (1886-1953)


Indian psychoanalyst and physician Girindrasekhar Bose was born in 1886 and died in 1953. He was the founder of the Indian Psychoanalytic Society.

Bose, the youngest of nine children, was the son of a chief minister of a minor princely state in British India and a mother who was a poet. After finishing school, he studied chemistry in Calcutta's Presidency College and then joined the Medical College where he received his medical degree in 1910. He was married at the age of seventeen to Indumati, who bore him two daughters. He was greatly interested in yoga, magic, and hypnotism and in fact used hypnotic therapy in his medical practice during his early years and also occasionally after he became a psychoanalyst.

While practicing, as a doctor, Bose studied psychology in the newly opened department of psychology at Calcutta University. Appointed lecturer at the age of 31, after he finished his Master's degree in two years, he made psychoanalysis compulsory for all students of psychology. His doctoral thesis, Concept of Repression (1921) in which he blended Hindu thought with Freudian concepts and which he sent to Freud, led to a correspondence between the two men and to the formation of the Indian Psychoanalytic Society on January 22, 1972. He developed his own overly didactic therapeutic technique, primarily aimed at cognitive change, which was based on his theory of "opposite wishes" (1933).

As he was the founder-president of the Indian Psychoanalytic Society and someone who conducted most of the training analyses, Bose's idiosyncratic technique came to characterize the therapeutic style of most Indian psychoanalysts. Bose's contribution, however, was less in the doubtful value of his new technique but in his emphasis on the role of culture in psychoanalysis. He did not uncritically accept the universalist premises of psychoanalysis, but engaged with Freud in a lively correspondence where he pointed out some of the cultural variations in psychoanalytic concepts, such as castration anxiety, which he had encountered in his Indian patients. His other great contribution was organizational in that he laid the foundations of psychoanalysis in India and placed the Indian Psychoanalytic Society on a sound footing through the thirty-one years of his presidency and until his death.

Sudhir Kakar

See also: India.


Bose, Girindrasekhar. (1933). A New Theory of Mental Life. Indian Journal of Psychology, 37-157.

Hartnack, Christiane. (1990). Vishnu on Freud'sDesk:Psychoanalysis in Colonial India. Social Research, 57 (4), 921-949.

Indian Psychoanalytical Society. (1955). Special Issue on Bose. Samiksa.

Kakar, Sudhir. (1997). Encounters of the psychological kind: Freud, Jung and India. In Culture and Psyche: Psychoanalysis and India. New York, Psyche Press.

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