Title: The Doctor and Mrs. A.: Ethics and Counter-Ethics in an Indian Dream Analysis

Author: Sarah Pinto

Publisher: Women Unlimited

Year of Publication: 2019


How does one remember the future?”

Thus, begins The Doctor and Mrs. A by Sarah Pinto. Based on ethics and counter ethics in an Indian dream analysis, this book is an inspired example of thinking beyond the known.

Just before independence, somewhere in early forties, a young Punjabi woman identified only as Mrs. A decided to be a part of an experiment by a psychiatrist, Dev Satya Nanda, for his new method of dream analysis. Unbeknownst to him, she was in an unhappy marriage with a strong urge for freedom from all the bondage. Through this experiment they discovered hidden layers of her personality which included different reflections on sexuality, trauma, ambitions and marriage. Pinto revisits this conversation and explores it in the context of late colonial Indian society. Juxtaposing the past with the present, she delivers a thought-provoking analysis on gender and power.

The author, Sarah Pinto is a Professor of anthropology at Tufts University and has also authored a few books on women and inequality in contemporary India. She won the Eileen Basker Memorial Prize from the Society of Medical Anthropology for her work Daughters of Parvati: Women and Madness in Contemporary India published in 2012.

To start with, Mrs. A comes across as any other normal upper middle-class woman of those times. She was well-educated, came from a well-off background and was married  into a high-flying socialite family as soon as she was of a marriageable age. Her life revolved around the parties she attended with her husband and the ones she hosted at her place. Always impeccably dressed, she was the epitome of grace and charm. Her tinkling laughter was considered to be the picture of a happy married life. What no one ever noticed was, how lonely and meaningless she felt.

Read the full review on Kitaab.