A Statement from the Psychoanalytic Center of the Carolinas

The current racist atrocities in our society, most recently the murder of George Floyd, call upon us as psychoanalytic therapists in the Psychoanalytic Center of the Carolinas (PCC) to turn our awareness of racism into effective action.  We must speak out about the damaging effects of racism on its perpetrators and its victims, and we must rigorously examine our own institutional practices with an openness to identifying and addressing any racism we find in our Center’s teaching, supervision, and clinical practices. We must recognize the study of race as an essential aspect of how we function.  PCC offers this statement to members of our Center and to our general community as an initial public expression of our commitment to address race.    

Here and now we speak on the nature of the problem of racism and on how we must address it.

Racism – The problem of racism is obvious in the shameless murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and in other very recent humiliating expressions of racism such as the young woman telephoning the police about a “threatening” Black male birder who asked her to follow the law and leash her dog.  As psychoanalysts, we know that the perpetrators of racism engage in various psychological defenses that profoundly disconnect persons from their racist acts. In the case of the dog walker-bird watcher incident referenced above, the 911 caller pleaded with folks that she was not a racist. When defenses around racism are disrupted, as by the video recording of tragic recent murders of black men by white men, we experience the ripping down of a protective curtain and are pulled into crisis.  We can no longer turn a blind eye.  In crisis, as in surgery, it is imperative to keep the wound open long enough to see the disease in order to address it.

Addressing Racism – The disavowing perpetrator and the traumatized victim, both, require help.  Psychoanalysis is a liberating discipline.  It renders help by upsetting the status quo to produce progress.  In recent years, psychoanalysis has come to include racial issues as a necessary focus of treatment, recognizing that racial attitudes, prejudices and defenses often foment unconscious but real and destructive racist acts.  As such, racism comes to be a part of a person that needs to be treated.  Black people who are on the receiving end of persistent racism are, of course, harmed even as many maintain resilience.  Up to now, the widened interest in race has mostly been about how to treat the various harms caused to Blacks.  Now, it is slowly being recognized that the psychoanalyst also needs to foster in each person the awareness of their internal racial selves and any conscious and unconscious racist elements so that understanding, resolution, and healing can take place.  The Psychoanalytic Center of the Carolinas is committed to engage and foster this newer awareness.

PCC’s Responsibility to the Larger Community – PCC wants the larger community to know that we will work harder within ourselves and more effectively with our patients so that we can make a positive contribution to strengthening all of our voices of protest in the search for social justice.   We will do so in our teaching, supervising and in the therapeutic treatments we offer.  We will also work intentionally to make our programs, our faculty, and our trainees more diverse and inclusive. Within our center and in the community at large, we commit to work with, not against, the power of courageous awareness to bring about needed changes in this society. 

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