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Long, K.M. (2004). Hating in the First Person Plural: Psychoanalytic Essays on Racism, Homophobia, Misogyny, and Terror. Edited by Donald Moss. New York: Other Press, 2003. xxxiv + 336 pp. $40.00.. Am. Imago, 61(2):248-255.
(2004). American Imago, 61(2):248-255
Hating in the First Person Plural: Psychoanalytic Essays on Racism, Homophobia, Misogyny, and Terror. Edited by Donald Moss. New York: Other Press, 2003. xxxiv + 336 pp. $40.00.
Review by: Kay McDermott Long
Psychoanalysts take note. There is something rare and profound afoot in Donald Moss's volume, Hating in the First Person Plural. In its pages we encounter psychoanalytic thinking at its best: vibrant, relevant to clinical and social concerns, and powerfully grounded in theory. We find a continuation of Freud's attempt to reckon the intrapsychic price we pay for our fragile hold on civilized life—a theory that allows us to measure the effects of human desire gone awry.
Moss warns us from the start that the aim of the assembled essays is not simply explication. If we are to engage meaningfully with questions about human hatred, then we must employ to the fullest our own capacities to imagine and identify. Moss challenges us to find in ourselves the darkest of human passions. If you take the challenge, like Marlow in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, you will not emerge unscathed.
I have long admired the thinking of Donald Moss. Through his work on the death penalty and homophobia I have come to anticipate that whatever subject he puts his mind to will be illuminated with thinking that is novel, substantive, and often arresting in its depth and complexity. Perhaps most impressively, he accomplishes this while staying true to his understanding of Freudian metapsychology. His ability closely to examine linguistic structures to ferret out their latent meanings is an intellectual treat. He does not disappoint us in this book.
A caveat is in order: reading Donald Moss is demanding. In order to fathom and appreciate his arguments, one must meet Moss's intellectual heft with considerable mental vigor of one's own. Divided into four sections, the book explores the thorny problems of racism, homophobia, misogyny, and terrorism with unflinching attention to the intrapsychic forces constituting our systematized hatreds. What can psychoanalysis offer in these arenas? A great deal, it turns out.
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