Helen MorganJul 6, 2022
The Work of Whiteness
A Psychoanalytic Perspective
'Whiteness' is a politically constructed category which needs to be understood and dismantled because the system of racism so embedded within our society harms us all. It has profound implications for human psychology, an understanding of which is essential for supporting the movement for change. Helen Morgan's The Work of Whiteness: A Psychoanalytic Perspective (Routledge, 2021)explores these implications from a psychoanalytic and Jungian analytic perspective.
The 'fragility' of whiteness, the colour-blind approach and the silencing process of disavowal as they develop in the childhood of white liberal families are considered as means of maintaining white privilege and racism. A critique of the colonial roots of psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Jung leads to questioning the de-linking of the individual from society in modern day analytic thinking. The concept of the cultural complex is suggested as a useful means of connecting the individual and the social. Examples from the author's clinical practice as well as from public life are used to illustrate the argument.
Relatively few black people join the psychoanalytic profession and those who do describe training and membership as a difficult and painful process. How racism operates in clinical work, supervision and our institutions is explored, and whilst it can seem an intractable problem, proposals are given for ways forward. This book will be of great importance to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, social workers and all those with an interest in the role of white privilege on mental health.