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Parker, R.N. (2019). Slavery in the White Psyche. Psychoanal. Soc. Work, 26(1):84-103.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Social Work, 26(1):84-103

Slavery in the White Psyche

Ryan N. Parker

This article was born out of the hypothesis that slavery—as historical reality, signifier, and symbol—has deep psychological implications for contemporary white Americans. Using data collected in an exploratory, qualitative study, my participants’ responses serve to illuminate the psychic structure of whiteness, which functions as a distortion that gets passed down intergenerationally (and horizontally) through a white collective unconscious. Housed in individual psyches, I suggest that this distorted structure of self actively resists and prevents white Americans (as a collective) from making contact with the racialized realities, both past and present, that would potentially lead to opportunities for choice, reparation, and transformation.

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