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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

The Inevitability and Utility of Hating and Being Hated in the Crucible of Racialized Transference and Countertransference Reactions

The Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute’s 20th Annual Visiting Professor

Dorothy E. Holmes, Ph.D.
Training and Supervising Analyst
Baltimore-Washington Psychoanalytic Institute
Professor and Program Director of Doctor of Psychology Program
The George Washington University

The analyst’s tendency to avoid or minimize negative, destructive transference manifestations is especially vivid when working with hateful racialized transferences and countertransferences.  In this paper Dr. Holmes suggests that the accessibility of hate is made more difficult when expressed in racial terms because that avoidance is reinforced by ordinary neurotic intrapsychic forces and by the special status of race in our culture.  That is, racial hatred is tolerated and reinforced in our culture as an accepted expression of displaced and projected hatred.

Psychoanalysis is progressive and radical in that it offers the patient hope and liberation through upsetting the patient’s intrapsychic status quo.  Analysis should be a crucible in which even the most vile feelings can be experienced and processed towards resolution.  In practice, however, when it comes to hatred, there is a gap between what analysis is designed to do and what actually happens.  Dr. Holmes posits that when a consideration of race is added, two possibilities ensue:  the press for the experiencing of hatred is magnified and the tendencies to avoid analysis of the hatred are increased.  The latter tendency, unchecked, has unfortunate consequences including action proneness which can be especially intense in relation to race.

Dr. Holmes highlights a third possibility:  the opportunity afforded by racialized transference reactions to work with and resolve hateful feelings.  She will present clinical material from several cases focused on the vicissitudes of patients’ transference struggles with racial expressions of hatred and the analyst’s corresponding countertransference experiences.  In one example, a Euro-American woman felt free to tell Dr. Holmes of her racism because as a black woman Dr. Holmes was powerless and therefore could not hurt the patient no matter what she said.  The presentation will trace the resolution of this reflection and mobilization of hate.

Saturday, April 29, 2006
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Michigan Psychoanalytic Center/Auditorium
32841 Middlebelt Road, Farmington Hills, MI

Suggested readings:

Holmes, D. (2006).   The Wrecking Effects of Race and Social Class on Self and Success.  Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 75:215-235.

_________. (1999)   Race and countertransference:  two "blind spots" in psychoanalytic perception.  Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 1:319-332.

Moss, D.  (2001).  On hating in the first person plural:  thinking
psychoanalytically about racism, homophobia and misogyny.  Journal of  the American Psychoanalytic Association  49:1315-1334.