Postdoctoral Research and Visiting Researchers

A Fieldwork on Addiction within the Scope of Intersubjectivity: Ambiguous Symbolic Structures

Dr. Fazilet Canbolat obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology department and was graduated from Clinical Psychology Integrated Ph.D. Program of the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Turkey in 2018. She is an assistant professor who is a faculty member of the psychology department in Cappadocia University. In 2022, she was granted by TUBITAK 2219 Post Doctorate Research Scholarship, and she is continuing her research process in Ghent University under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Stijn Vanheule

Summary: Even though the positivist and pharmacological models are widely used for the treatment of addiction today, the effectiveness of those treatment models is questionable due to the findings indicating that the relapse problem in addiction persists. Therefore, innovative perspectives which may handle the relapse problem in a deeper and detailed manner are needed. In this respect, psychoanalytic perspective is thought as a useful tool which may provide a deeper understanding associated with this problem. Indeed, addiction with its recurring nature can be associated with the concept of “acting out” in Lacanian psychoanalysis. Acting out, in Lacanian sense, is known as a subject’s effort to explain itself by acts instead of the words when not being understood (Evans, 2006). In this context, it is thought that the dilemmas that may occur in the social discourse (symbolic, in Lacanian terms) may lead to acting out by obstructing the communication. Immigration is thought as one of the conditions in which those type of social dilemmas may be frequently experienced; nevertheless, the quantitative studies associated with addiction among immigrant groups indicate contradictory results. Thus, it is thought that qualitative method as a different research tool may be needed to gain an innovative and profound perspective regarding the addiction problem within the immigrant groups. In this study, the aim is to understand how the ambiguities in the symbolic structures affect addiction among immigrants by utilizing fieldwork. It is planned to focus on addicted people among Turkish immigrants who are living in Belgium, in this study. With this aim, there will be five research questions in the study: (I) What type of dilemmas are the participants confronted with in their daily lives?, (II) How do the symbolic structures around the participants provide support to them?, (III) How do the vulnerable symbolic structures affect the participants?, (IV) What is the meaning of a drug for them within this context? (Does a drug provide an alternative identity for them?), (V) What do the participants avoid addressing symbolically along that way?. To answer those questions, the project will be conducted in four steps, namely (a) Participant observation of people who are participating to the treatment programs in addiction clinics; (b) Conducting semi-structured interviews with 15 participants who will be selected among people in the addiction clinics (c) Participant observation of people who are experimenting drugs on the streets; (b) Conducting semi-structured interviews with 15 participants who will be selected among the drug users on the streets. Data will be organized as field notes and interview transcripts; and will be analyzed by using inductive and interpretative thematic analysis. The findings will be discussed within the Lacanian framework.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Stijn Vanheule