Race, Melancholia, and the Fantasy of Whiteness

with Cherian Verghese, PhD

Friday, March 12, 2021
4:00pm – 5:30pm EST
Virtual Zoom Event

Shortly after the January 6th insurrection at the National Capitol, author Ibram Kendi commented, “This IS who we are.  This is NOT ALL we are”.

What were your own reactions to January 6?  How do you understand it in relation to your cultural, racial, gendered and national identities? How do you think your own historical/cultural “situatedness” impacts your personal life and clinical work, and how does it manifest in the therapeutic spaces you co-create with your patients, supervisees and students?

In the paper he will present, Cherian Verghese argues that the denial of “this is who we are” results from a “fantasy of whiteness” which has been achieved by the specific narratives surrounding our collective national history.  Those narratives valorize a white male perspective, where women and people of color exist mostly as supporting casts or are entirely absent — erased.  The myth of the “American Dream,” putatively available to anyone who comes to this country, works hard, and abides by the laws of the land has never been true for many non-whites in this country.

Let us have a dialogue, a “true conversation” among us.

Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of this pre-conference, participants will be able to:

1. Identify at least two specific concepts related to cultural/racial dynamics that would be beneficial for therapists/analysts to recognize in themselves.
2. Articulate understanding and discuss how at least two of the cultural processes, such as “white privilege,” “aversive racism,” “racial melancholia” etc. can impede recognizing their own and/or their patients’ situatedness within society.
3. Demonstrate and discuss an understanding of the value of critical pedagogy, one which includes perspectives other than the narratives of dominant cultural groups, as a model in the teaching and clinical work of psychoanalytic theory and therapy.