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Gehrie, M.J. (1976). Aspects of the Dynamics of Prejudice. Ann. Psychoanal., 4:423-443.

(1976). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 4:423-443

Aspects of the Dynamics of Prejudice

Mark J. Gehrie, Ph.D.

This investigation into the dynamics of prejudice applies psychoanalytic principles to the study of social phenomena in an attempt to illuminate the relation between observable social behavior of individuals in groups and what may be inferred about intrapsychic process.

Of the many books and articles on the subject of prejudice, a few works stand out for their clarity and directness. Kubie's (1965) contribution on “The Ontogeny of Racial Prejudice” takes a perceptive look at some of the dynamics seeming to underlie prejudiced behavior. One of three roots of prejudice he postulates is “the child's oscillation between a secret, guilty pride in his body and hidden feelings of profound aversion” to it. Kubie notes that bias against the self may form the basis for prejudice against what is “alien and different,” as well as for what is “similar and familiar.” Prejudice, he comments, is like a mirror that reflects in both directions. Kris (1946) emphasizes a similar theme: “All human relations are based on a generalized picture that man carries of both the self and the other” (p. 470). Correspondingly, in his discussion of the mechanism of prejudice, he notes that “We resort to projection when we attribute to another person attitudes or emotions whose existence in ourselves we refuse to admit” (p. 471). McLean (1946) stresses the role of the quality of the childhood atmosphere. Bird's (1957) description of a pathological example is clinically very useful.

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