The St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute is pleased to present

Facts, Fictions, and Collective Anxieties in the Contemporary Immigration Debate

Presenter:  Ricardo Ainslie, PhD

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Centene_Charitable_Foundation_smallPart of the Centene Charitable Foundation Speakers Series



Ainslie, Ricardo 2018

Date: Thursday, April 11, 2019

Time:  7:00 p.m.

Location: Ethical Society of St. Louis Auditorium, 9001 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO 63117

Course Level: Introductory

Fee: $30 per person   (non-refundable)

 This program, when attended in its entirety,  is offered for 2.0 Credit Hours


The American social landscape has changed dramatically in the last three decades, driven primarily by Mexican and other Latin American immigration. These changes have sparked deep debate, as presidential candidates scapegoat immigrants as the source of America’s ills, armed Minutemen militias patrol border areas with vigilante zeal, and the children of asylum-seeking parents are torn from them and placed in military encampments. In this presentation the current anti-Latino discourse is read through a psychoanalytic lens that helps us understand the psychodynamics of fear of the unknown Other, the linkages between individual and collective identity processes, and the role of society as a psychological “container” that “holds” complex psychological needs and conflicts, thus enhancing a sense of safety for members of the society.


  1. Describe psychoanalytic concepts regarding regressive processes in groups experiencing stress and conflict
  2. Describe the experience of immigration as it relates to acculturation
  3. Describe the impact of migration on the American social landscape


My work focuses on communities in the United States and Mexico that have experienced significant conflict, violence, and transformation, exploring broader questions about how communities absorb crises and how individuals and cultural groups live within them. A hallmark of my projects is that I use a variety of media, including documentary film, photographic exhibits, and books, to foster reflection within the communities I study and beyond them.

My work is highly interdisciplinary in character as reflected in my affiliations with the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, and the American Studies programs at the University of Texas at Austin, where I am also the M.K. Hague Centennial Professor in Education in the department of Educational Psychology.

In this work I have gravitated toward the methodological approaches more typically associated with anthropology, American Studies, Liberal Arts, and creative non-fiction, developing a hybrid methodology that I terms ‘psychoanalytic ethnography’ because I conduct in-depth interviews that typically have a deeply psychological character.

I am a native of Mexico City, Mexico, and a US citizen. I earned my Bachelor’s degree (Psychology) at the University of California at Berkeley, and my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Michigan. I am also board certified in psychology and psychoanalysis.  – Ricardo Ainslie, PhD

More at Dr. Ainslie’s website, HERE.


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