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Keval, N. (2001). Understanding the Trauma of Racial Violence in a Black Patient. Brit. J. Psychother., 18(1):34-51.
   

(2001). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 18(1):34-51

Understanding the Trauma of Racial Violence in a Black Patient

Narendra Keval

Racial violence arises when infantile anxiety and hatred of ‘difference’ or ‘otherness’ become too unmanageable within the self and are displaced into the racial arena via splitting and projective mechanisms. The body of the ‘other’, particularly skin colour differences, becomes a salient target for locating and attacking these feared and unwanted aspects of the self.

Those on the receiving end can experience a profound attack on their identity, with feelings of rejection that can result in a severe narcissistic blow, puncturing and even shattering the individual's psychic skin and existing defensive organization. This failure of containment can send tremors throughout the psyche to some of the most vulnerable areas in individuals functioning, giving fresh life to both oedipal and pre-oedipal anxieties to do with separation and loss.

Where these early anxieties are felt to be unbearable, the individual resorts to encapsulating them in a portion of their mind, effectively sealing them off from conscious awareness or access, but they are unconsciously re-enacted. A case study aims to describe some of these phenomena.

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