Podcast about emigration. Analytical psychologist Maria Dolgopolova and gestalt therapist Daria Prihodko

«What do people face when going through immigration?» Emigration: an eternal issue and a local one. About the personal and the universal? Waves of emigration and a unique moment.

17 November, 2023

I have prepared a teaser video from a russian language podcast episode about emigration with ENG subtitles. The full ENG verbatim transcript you can find on my website mariadolgopolova.com soon.

«What do people face when going through immigration?» Emigration: an eternal issue and a local one. About the personal and the universal? Waves of emigration and a unique moment.

Maria Dolgopolova: I would like to talk about things that relate to a larger number of people. Some universal aspects regarding emigration because they exist, and I believe it's valuable to discuss them.

On the one hand, if we speak not about a hundred years, but about the last two years, I notice that when people and social groups experience intense feelings related to political events... Some people move out somewhere, while others are doing something. So, many different processes have been set in motion. And I suppose that for people (not for everyone), it becomes more challenging to think about themselves because it's too...

I mean, let's say you're a person (editor’s note: raised and lived in Russia from birth, too young to encounter the USSR period), and everyone around has relocated somewhere recently. You also wanted to relocate or strongly desire it right now. And it becomes more challenging to make decisions because of this collective shake up and the current around you. It pushes you, for example, to relocate as your acquaintances did. It's hard to immerse into yourself, to detach from the bigger context, and to see if you genuinely need emigration, or you need it later, or you need it but not in the way your friends and relatives did. When this collective shake up and the current is so powerful, it's very difficult.

I had and I also believe that there will be more clients who feel a strong need to move out from the very beginning. But in their surroundings, 98% of people stay in Russia. And it would be very challenging for them to rely on their sense of reality and on their needs because their environment, even without saying anything toxic, would consider such a person a bit crazy.

Daria Prihodko: Everything you're describing, in the language of Gestalt, seems like confluence. If we define the defence mechanism here…

Maria Dolgopolova: On the one hand, yes, but it's not just a confluence with a group. It's about how, in Gestalt terms, the Field makes the influence on us. The Field itself sets some rules, and if high-stress events occur, we might, for example, need to exit that Field. But exiting the Field is not that simple.

For example, you live in Russia. And we have two people, Person A and Person B, both of whom live in Russia. Person A lives in the Field where everybody has relocated recently, Person B lives in the Field where no one has moved out. Although, both A and B, let's say, grew up in Russia, they lived in different environments.

Each of them needs to do this internal work, acknowledging that something is going on with their environment. And to answer the question, what should I do with it? Well, in the language of Gestalt therapy, differentiation is mandatory. Because if someone emigrates and emigration doesn't suit him, if he does it because of conformity, because of following the Field, his emigration can actually be terrible. So, I believe, it's essential to make a sober personal choice in advance.

I can say a few words about myself, but I've also noticed this in my other clients and acquaintances. Earlier, I had thoughts about living in other countries, working in other countries, I mean desires of that kind.

To move somewhere globally is something I haven't considered before. But naturally, I had some amateur human associations regarding emigration. That it's about homesickness, about chronic fatigue, that you need to climb the social ladder again. You can partially lose your social possibilities; nobody knows you. I thought, these are the normal things that logically can be associated with emigration.

But when I became a part of all this and went through it with my friends and clients, well, it's as if emigration is such a powerful catalyst for all other processes and potential crises. I can provide an example from my own experience (to avoid sharing any confidential information of my clients or friends). In this case, I'm quite a typical sufferer.

I've been married for almost 11 years, with a few months' exception. And when my husband and I went to Uzbekistan in the autumn of 2022 (we first went to England and then to Uzbekistan without a return ticket), I understood that, like any couple, we had some unspoken things that were blurred; we would somehow get mad at each other because of them, we would have doubts about something or we would reach agreements about it finally. I can imagine how our relationship would have continued in Russia, if there were no relocation, no decisions to go somewhere and start something from the very beginning; I understand how it would have developed.

When we arrived in another country, I expected homesickness because I still had an association that it would be the main focus. But, in reality, it's as if all the crises (that were supposed to unfold over several years, then be worked through and eventually resolved) just revealed themselves immediately in a matter of weeks. I was ready to "walk on the ceiling” and say, "What if we get divorced?" I'm a very balanced person in relationships, calm, reflective; professional deformations do their job. I use "I-messages" and everything... But I understand that it was the content of our relationship, and because of these global events, this content condensed into such an incredibly concentrated point in time that I could neither postpone nor transfer it.

I might think it's some personal effect of mine, but I've been through it not only with my friends but also with my clients multiple times. The words "I'm afraid of divorce" are something I've heard very frequently over the past year. And it seems to me that what I'm seeing here as universal it's precisely the property of a catalyst.

Everything that works at least a little poorly, or even slightly problematically, can shoot out in such a concentrated form. You either endure it and move forward, or you endure it unsuccessfully. In my environment, everyone endured it somehow.

About me

Maria Dolgopolova – a certified clinical and a jungian psychologist (Moscow Association of Analytical Psychology, an IAAP training candidate studying in CGJung Institute in Zurich) with a background in gestalt therapy (Moscow Institute of Gestalt and Psychodrama, Gestalt Associates Training Los Angeles) and in psychoanalysis of object relations.


+7 903 542 9177 (Telegram, WhatsApp)