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Suchet, M. (2004). A Relational Encounter with Race. Psychoanal. Dial., 14(4):423-438.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 14(4):423-438

A Relational Encounter with Race Related Papers

Melanie Suchet, Ph.D.

Race remains one of the most highly charged subjects of discourse in our society. At a cultural level, white racial identity has become dissociatively split off from the rest of identity formation. A racialized subjectivity is usually carried by those with darker skin colors, whereas whiteness is experienced as an unmarked and invisible state. The author argues that whites have dissociated the historical position of the oppressor from collective consciousness, due to our inability to tolerate an identification with the aggressor. Our disavowal of race as constitutive of subjectivity ensures that race becomes a site for enactments.

This paper follows the transference-countertransference dynamics between an African American patient mandated to treatment and the author, a white analyst born in South Africa. The haunting presence of racial trauma infused the analysis. Focus is placed on the rich, often unmetabolizable experiences of race, including the ways in which the structure of the treatment recreated the racial dynamics of slavery.

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