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Holmes, D.E. (2019). Our Country ‘tis of We and Them: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Our Fractured American Identity. Am. Imago, 76(3):359-379.
   

(2019). American Imago, 76(3):359-379

Our Country ‘tis of We and Them: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Our Fractured American Identity

Dorothy Evans Holmes, Ph.D., ABPP, FABP

I have come to the reflections offered in this paper after considering numerous contrasting cultural events. I will offer psychodynamic understandings of such contrasts. Among the events which undergird my thinking are the following.

I wrote (Holmes, 2009) that Barack Obama's election was possible, in psychodynamic terms, for two reasons: his proud claiming of his own racial identity as a biracial man who identifies as African-American and the growth in our country's collective psyche in relation to race. Though the words, “When they go low, we go high,” were first voiced by Mrs. Obama near the end of his eight years in office, it was the spirit of that phrase that in 2008 lifted Mr. Obama and, temporarily, our country, out of the never-ending mire of racism.

Donald Trump's election to the Presidency in 2016 brought rallying calls and promises to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Concomitant with and quickly pursuant to those appeals, regressive trends in the American psyche and in our laws became evident, such as passage of SB4 in Texas (2017) to outlaw sanctuary cities and to permit open carry of firearms. SB4 was characterized by the ACLU as giving:

a green light to police officers in the state to investigate a person's immigration status during a routine traffic stop, based on how they look or sound, leading to widespread racial profiling, baseless scrutiny and illegal arrests of citizens and non-citizens alike.

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