1st Edition

Archetypal Grief Slavery’s Legacy of Intergenerational Child Loss

By Fanny Brewster Copyright 2019
    174 Pages
    by Routledge

    174 Pages
    by Routledge

    Archetypal Grief: Slavery’s Legacy of Intergenerational Child Loss is a powerful exploration of the intergenerational psychological effects of child loss as experienced by women held in slavery in the Americas and of its ongoing effects in contemporary society. It presents the concept of archetypal grief in African American women: cultural trauma so deeply wounding that it spans generations.

    Calling on Jungian psychology as well as neuroscience and attachment theory, Fanny Brewster explores the psychological lives of enslaved women using their own narratives and those of their descendants, and discusses the stories of mothering slaves with reference to their physical and emotional experiences. The broader context of slavery and the conditions leading to the development of archetypal grief are examined, with topics including the visibility/invisibility of the African female body, the archetype of the mother, stereotypes about black women, and the significance of rites of passage. The discussion is placed in the context of contemporary America and the economic, educational, spiritual and political legacy of slavery.

    Archetypal Grief will be an important work for academics and students of Jungian and post-Jungian studies, archetypal and depth psychology, archetypal studies, feminine psychology, women’s studies, the history of slavery, African American history, African diaspora studies and sociology. It will also be of interest to analytical psychologists and Jungian psychotherapists in practice and in training.

    Acknowledgements. Foreword by Inez Martinez. Introduction. Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. The Mother Archetype. Rites of Passage: Life and Death. Mothering Slave and the Intergenerational Orphan. African Americans and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Stages of Grief. Grief as Anger. Archetypal Grief. Mother, Daughter, Son. The Female Africanist Body. Mirror as Symbol. Influencing the Archetype. Summary.


    Fanny Brewster, PhD, is a Jungian analyst and Professor at Pacifica Graduate Institute, USA. She is the author of African Americans and Jungian Psychology: Leaving the Shadows (Routledge, 2017).

    "Dr. Brewster advances the argument that we, "both whites and blacks," are haunted by the "not telling" of the historical slave stories and their continuing archetypal manifestations. White America, in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, is "poisoned to its soul" by racism, and we are equally haunted by not listening to our black sisters and brothers, past and present. Such listening would be one way to help purge our souls of racism’s poison through empathetic witnessing, a form of archetypal apology, if you will. To do so, we need to counter white fragility by having the strength to turn the pages of books like Archetypal Grief, and not look away from the anguish and anger therein, nor deny our ancestors’ roles in their genesis and the archetypal guilt we carry in our DNA as well." - Jennifer Leigh Selig, PhD, author of Integration: The Psychology and Mythology of Martin Luther King, Jr. and His (Unfinished) Therapy With the Soul of America

    "Fanny Brewster provides a necessary exploration of the impact on African-Americans of a devastating evil of slavery, the tearing of children away from their mothers. She writes with passion and power, using the lens of Jungian archetypes in conjunction with her profound understanding of African-American culture, to decipher the complexities of slavery’s aftermath. Considering past, future, and spiritual integrity, she leads us to an understanding of feelings that still reverberate, archetypal grief as a steady-state, pervasive element over a lifetime, within a culture of resilience and survival." - Merle Molofsky, NCPsyA, LP, psychoanalyst, faculty member and Advisory Board, Harlem Family Institute, USA; faculty member, NPAP

    "Fanny Brewster throws open the doors of the slave quarters, casts light on the face of unbearable grief, rage and intergenerational trauma. She insists we remember what the culture, and indeed, Depth Psychology, has preferred to forget—the appalling cruelty and systemic evil of American slavery during the 400 years of the African Holocaust, how its social and psychological legacy shapes our world to this day.

    The Ancestors speak to Brewster, especially "mothering slaves"—women forced to be "breeders," whose labor in childbirth and in the cotton fields brought them no joy, no increase, no profit. Their bodies were not their own; they were used and abused. Their children were not their own; they were ripped from their breasts. Their families were not their own; they were torn apart. They tell Motherline stories from hell.

    Archetypal Grief is strong medicine for the soul. If your heart is open to sorrow, to horror, if your mind is open to seeing through cultural complexes and denial, if your ears are open to "the voice of the Other," if you long for healing, if you want to "be woke," this book is for you." - Naomi Ruth Lowinsky, author of The Motherline: Every Woman’s Journey to Find Her Female Roots and The Rabbi, the Goddesss and Jung: Getting the Word from Within

    "You birth a child and they die because you are malnourished. You birth a child knowing they are the product of a rape. You birth a child and at adolescence they are maimed, tortured or flogged to death. You birth a child and they are torn from your arms and sold you know not where.

    This is the archetypal legacy of the African Holocaust explored by Jungian analyst Dr. Fanny Brewster who challenges us to become conscious of the grief, sorrow, rage as well as the strength and resilience experienced and embedded in the emotional DNA of those "mothering slaves" and handed down to their descendants. The trauma of this legacy affects all and is embedded in all our psyches.

    Bring your heart and your soul, your emotions as well as your intellect as you read this searing, scholarly work." - Christine M. Chao, PhD, clinical psychologist, diplomate Jungian analyst, USA