This article explores the transformative experience of estrangement by a Kurdish Iranian refugee named Hiwa in exile in Denmark. Through a person-centered approach, I focus on what was at stake for stateless people, such as Hiwa, at a time when right-wing populist asylum politics made achieving permanent citizenship an uphill battle and leaving Denmark impossible due to the Dublin Regulation. Drawing on psychoanalytic theories of “the multiple self,” I describe Hiwa's changing self-states as involving a triple reorientation in the form of an estranged relationship to his past, present, and envisioned future. I analyze this transformative experience as linked to an existential quest to find a space between the struggle for freedom and submission to a sense of powerlessness—experiences that sometimes elude conventional language. Finally, I suggest that reading poetry and writing about exile constituted a transitional experience enabling an inner world of emotions to be expressed. The article provides a window to the human consequences of the “Paradigm Shift” in Danish asylum politics, which entailed making all residence permits temporary—and more broadly to the growing problem of statelessness in Europe.
- social work and social conditions