Surviving Hating and Being Hated: Some Personal Thoughts About Racism from a Psychoanalytic Perspective
Kathleen Pogue White, Ph.D.
We Take it for Granted that psychoanalysis can inform our understanding of the human condition of hatred. But through understanding our experiences of hating and being hated, can we also inform psychoanalytic theory and its application?
I take it to be a basic truth that everyone has experienced hating and being hated. Hatred is an ordinary human experience that has extraordinary results. Maybe it is because of those extraordinary outcomes that we accord hatred the status of taboo. We seem to feel, in the common culture, that if we speak hate's name or invoke its memory we will suffer a grim consequence. On the other hand, we fantasize that if we don't speak it, it doesn't exist. The collusion of silence makes hatred unbearably dangerous.
I think that all of us have our hate-stories to tell, if we dare. We all have our hate-scars, some of which are better healed than others, and some of us are better healed, as persons who have hated and been hated, than others.
So I accept not only that our theory teaches us about hate, but also that, if we converse with one another about our experiences of hatred, we may demystify it, and that may allow us to inform and enliven psychoanalytic theory about hatred, and may even ameliorate the effects of hating and being hated within ourselves. We would undertake this piece of work on behalf of our own personal and professional development, as well as on behalf of our patients, In a small way, we would also undertake it on behalf of the global community, where the monstrous results of hatred proliferate.
I have had many kinds of conversations about hating and being hated. Some go this way: “Those hateful things are in the past. Things are different, now.”
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