Author and pioneering Indian psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar passes away

Sudhir Kakar, a pioneering Indian psychoanalyst, author, and cultural critic, passed away on Monday at the age of 85, art curator Dr Alka Pande told , “I knew Sudhir for 20 years… he has done a lot of important work and I have curated many of his shows,” she said. “I can confirm that he passed away yesterday.” She added, “He had throat cancer and was suffering for some time. He will be cremated at 4 pm today at Lodhi Crematorium. Chaudha will be at the Arya Samaj temple on Thursday 4 pm.” Born in Nainital, Uttarakhand in 1938, Kakar’s life and work bridged the gap between Eastern and Western thought, leaving an indelible mark on the field of psychoanalysis in India. Kakar’s career was prolific. He authored numerous books and articles, exploring the intersection of psychoanalysis with Indian culture, mythology, and religion. Works like “The Inner World: A Psychoanalytic Study of Childhood and Society in India” challenged traditional Western psychoanalytic perspectives and offered a unique lens into the Indian psyche. Another groundbreaking work “ Intimate Relations: Exploring Indian Sexuality” (1990) tackled a subject rarely discussed openly in India — sexuality. Kakar delved into the history and cultural attitudes towards sexuality in Indian society. He explored the influence of religion, social norms, and colonial legacies on intimate relationships and sexual expression. The late psychoanalyst’s early life was marked by the upheaval of the Partition. This experience, along with his upbringing in a multicultural India, deeply influenced his intellectual journey. He obtained his doctorate in economics from the University of Vienna and later trained in psychoanalysis at the Sigmund Freud Institute in Frankfurt. His many honours include the Kardiner Award of Columbia University, the Boyer Prize for Psychological Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association, and Germany’s Goethe Medal and its highest federal award — the Order of Merit. The multihyphenate has been a lecturer in General Education at Harvard University, a research associate at Harvard Business School and a professor of organizational behaviour at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad . Kakar was also a prolific author of fiction . His novels, including “The Seeker” (1995) and “A Book of Memory” (2016), explored themes of identity, family relationships, and the complexities of modern Indian life. His legacy lies in his pioneering work on the cultural dimensions of psychoanalysis. Kakar challenged the universality of Western models and paved the way for a more nuanced understanding of the human mind across cultures. The author’s work continues to influence scholars, therapists, and anyone interested in understanding the complexities of the human mind across diverse cultures. He is survived by his wife, Katharina, and his children. None

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