We are living in times where the issue of identity and difference has taken on a more defensive hue. The tide is turning towards an inward-looking nostalgia of sameness based on fear rather than on understanding. The experience of hearing another language, the way it is spoken, and being faced with the image of the other is now more complex, imbued with projections of powerlessness, fear, terrorism, and survival. The issue of identity appears to have become even more complex.
All cultures are concerned with how we speak and communicate as this represents identity, history, and home. Communication is also essential for survival, both emotionally and socially. The speaking person is an individual but also part of a culture or cultures with dense collective and individual shapes. The issue of identity, that feeling of belonging, is essential, full of possibility, and, at times, very uncomfortable, as it touches the tensions between who we are and who we are becoming. This sits next to more complex historical experiences and memories of languages and cultures being changed or lost or banished due to the colonial, imperial, and regional moves of powerful nations in search of conquest and economic gain.
This collection addresses how language affects therapists and their patients, and how it can be understood culturally and therapeutically. Drawn from talks given at the Multi-lingual Psychotherapy Centre (MLPC), the contributors not only bring a therapeutic slant but also their other roles as academics, writers, and artists. These reflections, memories, and stories give a glimpse of the multilingual journey the MLPC has been exploring for over twenty years, and leave much food for thought.