There are numerous ways to promote learning and enrich your education within the realm of psychoanalysis.
- APA’s Division 39 has many committees that enable the expansion of knowledge and allow for the building of experiences. Visit the Division 39 Education and Training Committee web page.
- Additionally, there are numerous training programs that can help enhance your understanding of psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theory and practice. The Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis Post- Graduate Fellowship Program – West is one such resource.
Psychoanalytic Readings on Race & Racism
Articles were chosen by Marcia Black, PhD which include clinical vignettes demonstrating analytic technique/theory. Descriptions of the articles/books come primarily from abstracts provided on the google scholar website.
Those that are available through the Antioch Library have been linked in order to provide accessibility.
Altman, N. (2000). Black and white thinking: A psychoanalyst reconsiders race Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 10(4), 589–605. https://doi.org/10.1080/10481881009348569
- This paper begins with an analysis of race as a social construction and then follows the argument that, at a deep structural level, race and racism are organized by the same rational–irrational polarity of Enlightenment philosophy that informs psychoanalytic structural theory. The heart of the paper is formed by two case examples, one from Altman’s clinical practice and one from Leary (1997). Altman argues that unconscious racism is to be expected in our clinical work at this point in history and that truly reparative efforts depend on an acknowledgment of racism in the transference–countertransference matrix
Altman, N. (2004). History Repeats Itself in Transference—Countertransference. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 14(6), pp. 807-815.
- The dynamics of the larger society inevitably are manifest in intrapsychic dynamics, as well as interpersonal interactions, in and out of the psychoanalytic consulting room. Traditional psychoanalytic inattention to the social world predisposes analysts to enact unreflectively some of the racist and classist patterns in the social world around us in our clinical work. Open discussion of U.S. history and of the past and current social location of psychoanalysis as a field goes hand in hand with increased awareness of the ways in which social forces organize psychoanalytic interactions.
Bonovitz, C. (2009). Mixed race and the negotiation of racialized selves: Developing the capacity for internal conflict. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 19(4), pp. 426-441.
- The author examines the relationship between race, culture, and internalized self-other relations—how they interact with each other and impact splitting and dissociative processes among self-states. The author argues for a notion of the unconscious as one that contains historical trauma related to race relations that influences the developing capacity to sustain internal conflict between opposing self-states borne out of this trauma. The author shows how society works against the integration of racialized self-states and interferes with the capacity to contain conflict. The paper contains an extended clinical vignette between a White analyst (author) and a mixed-race patient (African-American and White) which describes a series of enactments and the unconscious “mating” between dissociated self-states in both patient and analyst. The author argues that the analyst’s engagement of his or her own dissociated self-states and containment of internal conflict is critical to aiding the patient in moving toward greater integration.
Davies, J. E. (2011). Cultural dimensions of intersubjectivity: Negotiating “sameness” and “otherness” in the analytic relationship. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28(4), pp. 549-559.
- The cultural diversity of Western society has created an increasingly complex psychoanalytic intersubjective field. Cultural, class, racial, and familial dimensions of experience can never be separated in the psyche of the patient or analyst or in the analytic relationship. But the melding of these influences results in particular meanings for each patient, analyst, and analytic couple, and may be crucial to address for authentic connection and change to occur. A clinical case is presented in which uniquely melded cultural, class, and psychological meanings became enacted between patient and analyst, stimulating unexpected feelings in both, which enabled the emergence of a bridge across an apparent gulf of “otherness.”
Grand, S. (2014). Skin memories: On race, love and loss, psychoanalysis, culture & society. Psychoanalysis, Culture, & Society. 19 (3), pp. 232-249.
- During African-American slavery, the rape of slave women by their masters was ubiquitous. This unrecognized atrocity shaped the US economy and has informed race relations. This history is written into the skin of US analysts, but it has not penetrated psychoanalytic theory, practice, or consciousness. This article traces the historical abuse of slave women’s bodies and the transgenerational effects of the exploitation. This tracing proceeds through an intimate look at the author’s personal analysis, in which she, a Russian-Jewish patient, is treated by a light-skinned African-American analyst. In the transference, the history of slavery emerges: the analyst’s apparent whiteness echoes with rape on the plantation. Racial guilt and conflict is worked through motifs of loss, forced separation, and internalized racism.
Gump, J. (2010). Reality matters: the shadow of trauma on African American subjectivity. Psychoanalytic Psychology 27 (1), pp. 42-54
- Few psychoanalytic theories accord social, political, and cultural realities a role in the development of the psyche. This silence distorts and constricts our understanding of all subjects, but is particularly pernicious for the nondominant, as it renders significant aspects of their subjectivities invisible. African American subjectivity is an instance of such omission. The trauma of slavery critically shaped our subjectivity, yet this impact is rarely acknowledged. In fact, the subjugation, cruelties, and deprivations of slavery have given a traumatic cast to African American subjectivity. Through the intergenerational transmission of trauma this wounding has endured. This article examines the effect of African American historical reality on subjectivity. In particular, transmission of slavery’s essential characteristic—a relationship of domination—is explored. A clinical case manifesting instances of these issues is discussed.
Hassinger, J. A. (2014). Twenty-first-century living color: Racialized enactment in psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 19 (4), pp. 337-359.
- With wrecking effects on personality, relational competencies, and citizenship, racism is ubiquitous. No one, victim or perpetrator, escapes significant contortions of self and function. In this essay, I will explore racializing processes in psychoanalytic enactments and the ways in which transgenerational traumatic histories and contorted views of self/other, shame, and relational rupture emerge and shift in each participant.
Holmes, D. E. (1999). Race and countertransference: Two “blind spots” in psychoanalytic perception. Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 1(4), pp. 319-332.
- In this paper I propose an approach for the evocative use and resolution of racial and countertransferential manifestations in the treatment situation. When addressed with the interest they warrant, these phenomena can become powerful tools for the advancement of the treatment, rather than “blind spots.” The therapist’s own treatment is offered as the most likely means through which the evocative and pernicious effects of race and countertransference can be mastered. A case example with a Black analyst and a 31-yr-old White female client illustrates the approach.
- Racial difference and similarity in the treatment relationship highlight the question of what is real and apparently psychological in the different racial experiences of patients and therapists. The relationship between racial material and resistance is discussed, as well as the constancy and fluidity of race as intrapsychic content and the distinction psychoanalysts draw between social and psychic reality. Race in the mind, it is argued, is determined by both internal and external factors, and both are important in the analysis of racial material in the transference.
- Episodes of racial prejudice emerging in the context of a psychoanalytic therapy suggest that racism can be thought of as a regressed state of transference, characterized by polarized representations of self and other, categorical thinking, and the predominance of splitting and projection as defenses. The author suggests that activation of racial hostility in the clinical situation occurs as a result of events and processes not atypical in an analytic process. Though such states occurring outside of the analytic context are more likely made conscious in certain situations and in certain persons, the author suggests that racism can be more generally described as an ever-potential state of mind for most people living in racialized contexts.
Knight, Z. G. (2013). Black client, white therapist: Working with race in psychoanalytic psychotherapy in South Africa. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 94(1), pp. 17-31.
- When there is a focus on race in the South African psychoanalytic context it largely takes the form of the struggle to articulate the complexities of working with difference…or the struggle to map out issues of race. Such struggles are not localized in South Africa, but strongly reflect a much broader struggle within the global psychoanalytic community, as mirrored in the expanding focus on race. Although the consulting rooms seem far removed from the ongoing political …psychoanalytic psychotherapy remains a space of meaningful engagement with the other, and where the therapeutic dyad is one of racial difference it permits an encounter with our racialized unconscious. This article seeks to document the experience of my black client and my white response to her racial pain and struggle; in doing so, I describe the racial ‘contact’ between us and within us that triggers a racialized transference and countertransference dynamic, which contains the space for racial healing for both of us.
Layton, L. (2019). Transgenerational hauntings: toward a social psychoanalysis and an ethic of dis-illusionment. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 29(2), 105–121. https://doi.org/10.1080/10481885.2019.1587992
- I speak here to what I feel is a necessary reckoning, for myself and for our field, with U.S. history, particularly the intersecting history of White supremacy and White class dominance. I look at this history’s continuing effects on clinicians, on the people clinicians treat, and on psychoanalytic institutions. The paper draws on Avery Gordon’s concept of the ghost as a figure that pushes to make visible a psychosocial violence that has taken place-and that demands a something-to-be-done. I examine the way in which psychosocial unconscious processes simultaneously press toward truth and toward a disavowal of truth, disavowals that, in this context, serve to restore psychic equilibrium to unsettled White psyches. I turn to nonpsychoanalytic as well as psychoanalytic ancestors and contemporaries to elaborate an ethic of dis-illusionment that stands in tension with and in opposition to an ethic of adaptation. I conclude with a clinical vignette of exemplary work in a White-White dyad.
Leary, K. (2000). Racial enactments in dynamic treatment. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 10(4), pp. 639-653.
- The aim of this paper is to discuss racial enactments for what they might contribute to our understanding of the intersubjectivity of race and racial experience. “Racial enactments” designate interactive sequences embodying the actualization in the clinical situation of cultural attitudes toward race and racial difference. The author presents examples of racial enactments in several social contexts, as well as in an extended clinical vignette. The clinical vignette features a 50-yr-old African American female client and an African American female analyst. The author considers racial enactments in the light of contemporary psychoanalytic theory and suggests that collaborative methods facilitate the effective analysis of racial material.
There is a vast array of psychoanalytic resources to explore. Here are some videos that we believe are particularly interesting.
Black Psychoanalysts Speak
Lecture of Nancy McWilliams: “What is Mental Health?”
Adam Phillips: Provoking Attention Conference, On Vacancies of Attention
Adam Phillips: ‘Against Self-Criticism’ with Q&A
Adam Phillips on Money
Adam Phillips: On Pleasure and Frustration
Mental Pain with Christopher Bollas – Avenali Lecture
Brett Kahr Interviews Christopher Bollas Part 1
A Critique of the Postmodern Turn in Relational Psychoanalysis – Dr. Jon Mills
Peter Fonagy: “Attachment Theory and Psychoanalysis: The Need for a New Integration?”
Peter Fonagy: Anna Freud Centre Chief Executive: What is Mentalization? Interview
Wilfred Bion em Tavistock 1977 – Legendado
The Melanie Klein Trust website also has an abundance of interesting videos to explore.