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Full Citation

Tummala-Narra, P. (2005). Addressing political and racial terror in the therapeutic relationship. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75(1), 19-26.

What diversity/subjectivity topics are they discussing?

intersections of identities, politics, and therapy practice

Your summary or comments on the article

Author shows how, in therapy, to address racial terror. Context is post 9/11. Main idea = Pretending to be neutral can shut people down and cause harm.


Political and racial terror have important implications for the process of psychotherapy. This type
of trauma can have unique effects on individual psychology and the larger social context of
patients’ lives that are distinct from other types of interpersonal trauma. Several intrapsychic
processes, such as one’s experience of mirroring, fear of annihilation, identification and internalization
of aggression, the collective remembering of trauma, and subsequent mourning, are
transformed through one’s experiences of political and racial terror. Clinical illustrations of 2
patients treated in psychotherapy before and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,
elaborate these effects of political and racial trauma. The implications of addressing these types
of traumatic experience in psychotherapy, including issues of therapeutic neutrality, are discussed.

Resource contributed by:

Michelle Levine

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