How Race is Lived in the Consulting Room
Kimberlyn Leary, Ph.D.
Graduate, Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute
Associate Director, University of Michigan Psychological Clinic
Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan
Discussant: James Hansell, Ph.D.
Faculty, Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Many clinicians struggle with how to work most effectively when the psychodynamics of race are activated within the clinical consulting room. This paper begins with the assumption that race and ethnicity inflect clinical process, subtly and explicitly. Formulations from contemporary psychoanalysis (e.g. enactment and clinical intersubjectivity) and from multicultural perspectives outside of psychoanalysis are deployed to define new sites for psychoanalytically meaningful understandings of race. This paper will explore what is gained and lost when racial material is viewed as a psychoanalytic expression of personal psychology; the challenges of dealing with racialized subjectivity in clinical treatment; and a discussion of the way in which race illuminates tensions in our contemporary constructs of self and identity. To do so, I will draw on clinical vignettes and published case reports in the analytic literature.