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Dennis, E. (2018). Positions and Perspectives: An Object Relations View of Disavowed Racial Trauma in the United States. IJP Open, 5:62.

(2018). IJP Open, 5:62

Positions and Perspectives: An Object Relations View of Disavowed Racial Trauma in the United States

Ebony Dennis

I offer ideas about the paranoid-schizoid position state of mind using the dynamics of the impact of enslavement on the development of the US psyche. Specifically, the evolution of two perspectives: a superior white self, and inferior non-white other. One of the most remarkable psychological processes examined, which originated during colonial America, was the morphing of the black person into the “black body.” This morphing of people was essential to enabling the American psyche to use one group of human beings to build the US and its white citizens’ egos and wealth. The maintenance through disavowal of this type of traumatic morphing is shown to support disintegration and suffering in the psyche. Psychoanalytic theory is offered as uniquely useful to analyze the complexities of, and historical linkages to, the dynamics of splitting and disintegration using as example, US race-relations. This particular psychic framework, constructed by and within US culture, is useful to explore because it explains, some of the inexplicable underlying dynamics, which obviate understanding and healthy interactions between self and others to date. Melanie Klein’s object relations theory of infant development, primitive defensive operations, and early relationships with objects, are used here to describe relationship formations between white and black people in early colonial America which recapitulates to date in various ways.

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