Mitra the Unconquerable
Translated by David Hafner
PUBLISHED IN LE POINT
THURSDAY FEB;7th 2013
The Iranian psychoanalyst Mitra Kadivar has been detained for six weeks.
We are in the capital of an Iran assailed by the evermore-rigorous sanctions of the great democracies. The mullahs do not yield. They continue their advance towards the Bomb. The people are proud, the elite intractable. Here, there is no Frigide Barjot, nor is there a neighborhood for homosexuals. And the heterodoxy, those who think differently, is uneasy.
Yet in Tehran, there is at least one Enlightened woman. Her name is Mitra Kadivar. She is a doctor, trained in Iran. She is a psychoanalyst, trained in Paris. For a decade, she voyaged to and from Paris three times a year. How can one be a Lacanian in Iran? Mitra herself invented how. She dedicated herself to her patients, and for her students she founded the Freudian Association. Improbable Mitra!
For twenty years she was left in peace. But her neighbors made the following complaints. She doesn’t say hello. She secludes herself alone with men, one after another. Drug addicts call on her. The police investigate. A judge demands a “Psychiatric expertise”. A cudgel blow. “Late-Onset Schizophrenia” (sic). Her students visit her in the hospital: she is lively, as always. N, the psychiatrist who diagnosed her, sends me an email: he dreams, he tells me, of taking my classes in Paris; unfortunately, Mitra is crazy; it’s really quite simple, she thinks he is incompetent. Extreme measures are taken, she is bound to her bed; they inject her with haloperidol (a neuroleptic). Once. Twice. They envisage electroshock.
In Paris, however, there is agitation. Discretely. We must not scare away the Iranian colleagues. Doctor Matet, president of the Ecole de la Cause Freudienne, a renowned association of public utility, addresses an urgent letter to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs. Can something be done? No, unfortunately, Laurent Fabius can do nothing; aside from assure us of his sympathies. To act would harm her fatally, since; the Iranian authorities would misinterpret this. Surely he is right. What is to be done?
The four leaders of the Freudian Association struggle to obtain a meeting with the directors of the Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Successful, they send me summaries of the proceedings. I realize the directors of Tehran University are discreetly sending me, via my colleagues, a word to the wise. The psychiatric hospital where Mitra is detained is linked with this university. The medical director realized he is dealing with a VIP and that she is not at all crazy, simply obstinate. There will be no electroshock, nor will there be any more injections. And on Saturday the 2nd of February, Doctor Ghadiri allows Mitra to use a computer.
Under Lock and Key: A thrill: an email from Mitra! She has been locked up for six weeks, but she has lost nothing of her assurance. “I gained access to the internet thanks to the fear that you caused. It is a sign of a radical change in their attitude. This shows the difference which exists between doctor Ghadiri and N.” A true Iranian, she would hold her head high against the entire world. My interlocutors hint that they would gladly receive ECF members to teach Freud and Lacan. Is this the ransom price? I respond: "It would be a golden opportunity for us". The Quai d'Orsay advises against our going. "Primum non nocere". Already Proust noted our diplomats' penchant for proverbs. So then, why should we not add the maxim of a Chinese sage: "Count on one's own strength and fight with stamina". That is what we shall do. Psychoanalysts, friends of psychoanalysis and of liberty, once more an effort, as Mitra exemplifies!