‘Freudism’ and modernity: transcultural impact of psychoanalysis in the modern Turkish novel

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The theory of psychoanalysis came to Turkey in the early 1900s, but it was dismissed as being unmedical in a psychiatric context shaped by the Kraepelinian model. Still, it rapidly entered the intellectual discourses of the period, and in literature, it became a contact zone to discuss broader issues concerning the modernisation of the country. Novelists in particular undertook a critique of its epistemology to explore what they deemed the conflictual relationship between the native values and the westernising attitudes as broadly conceived at the time. Two early examples of such novelistic engagements with psychoanalysis are Peyami Safa’s Matmazel Noraliya’nın Koltuğu and Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü. This article focuses on the novelists’ engagement with psychoanalysis in their critique of the modernisation project adopted in Turkey through the theme of the ‘self-in-crisis’. Both texts contribute to the broader discussions of their milieu in a way that presents psychoanalysis as being representative of that which is modern and portray it critically to underline the dissonances between the old, traditional values and the new, imported ones.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical Humanities
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2023


  • The Time Regulation Institute
  • Matmazel Noraliya’nın Koltuğu
  • psychoanalysis
  • self-in-crisis
  • Oedipus complex
  • Turkish modernisation


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