Standing quietly hiding away years of history on 14 Parsibagan Lane, Kolkata, is the erstwhile residence of Dr G Bose, the founder of India’s first psychoanalytical society.

It was formally formed on 26 June 1922 and the symbol on its head office carries a combined image of Shiva and Parvati, “symbolising the bisexuality of human beings (Ardhanarishvara: half male and half female),” as noted by SK Abdul Amin, a research scholar at Jadavpur University, writing for Live History India, in May 2022.

Born and raised in Darbhanga, Bihar, Bose grew up in prosperity with his father Chandrasekhar serving as the dewan (head/ruler) of the estate of local Maharaja Sir Rameshwar Singh.

The youngest among nine siblings, Bose graduated from Presidency College in Calcutta before obtaining his MD from a medical college in the city.

He was also among the first to register for a new graduate training course in psychology announced by the Calcutta University in 1916. Upon completion, he became a lecturer at the varsity’s Department of Psychology and then became the head of the department from 1928 to 1938.

In a letter to Dr Sigmund Freud, the legendary Austrian neurologist and founder of Western psychoanalysis, he wrote about the ‘opposite wishes’ theory. This theory in many ways laid the ground for various Western psychology concepts to be developed in the future like ‘projective identification’.

Responding to Bose’s letter about his thesis, Freud expressed admiration by saying he was “glad to testify the correctness of its principal views and the good sense appearing in it.”

Freud also requested Bose to join the editorial board for both the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and German Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse as “leader and representative of the Indian group”.

Their interests in similar topics blossomed into an intellectual friendship challenging each other’s work and developing new theories. Bose challenged Freud, disagreeing with his version of the famous Oedipus complex.

Despite his regular correspondence with Freud and Western academia, Bose never shied away from critiquing them and offering his own interpretations of psychoanalysis. Even Freud acknowledges the unique perspective that Bose offered.

Wanting to make the subject of psychology easy for a local audience he published Swapna, a book which presented Freud’s concept of dreams to Bengali readers.

After his demise, at the request of Anna Freud, the youngest of Sigmund Freud’s children, Bose’s wife, Indrumati, donated the Bose-Freud letters to the Freud archives in London a decade after his death.