1st Edition

Race in Psychoanalysis Aboriginal Populations in the Mind

By Celia Brickman Copyright 2018
    284 Pages
    by Routledge

    284 Pages
    by Routledge

    Race in Psychoanalysis analyzes the often-unrecognized racism in psychoanalysis by examining how the colonialist discourse of late nineteenth-century anthropology made its way into Freud’s foundational texts, where it has remained and continues to exert a hidden influence. Recent racial violence, particularly in the US, has made many realize that academic and professional disciplines, as well as social and political institutions, need to be re-examined for the racial biases they may contain. Psychoanalysis is no exception.

    When Freud applied his insights to the history of the psyche and of civilization, he made liberal use of the anthropology of his time, which was steeped in colonial, racist thought. Although it has often been assumed that this usage was confined to his non-clinical works, this book argues that through the pivotal concept of "primitivity," it fed back into his theories of the psyche and of clinical technique as well.

    Celia Brickman examines how the discourse concerning the presumed primitivity of colonized and enslaved peoples contributed to psychoanalytic understandings of self and raced other. She shows how psychoanalytic constructions of race and gender are related, and how Freud’s attitudes towards primitivity were related to the anti-Semitism of his time. All of this is demonstrated to be part of the modernist aim of psychoanalysis, which seeks to create a modern subjectivity through a renegotiation of the past. Finally, the book shows how all of this can affect both clinician and patient within the contemporary clinical encounter. 

    Race in Psychoanalysis is a pivotal work of significance for scholars, practitioners and students of psychoanalysis, psychologists, clinical social workers, and other clinicians whose work is informed by psychoanalytic insights, as well as those engaged in critical race and postcolonial studies.

    Foreword by Lewis Aron Preface; Introduction; 1. The Figure of the Primitive: A Brief Genealogy; 2. Psychoanalysis and the Colonial Imagination: Evolutionary Thought in Freud’s Texts; 3. Race and Gender, Primitivity and Femininity: Psychologies of Enthrallment; 4. Historicizing Consciousness: Time, History, and Religion; 5. Primitivity in the Analytic Encounter; Epilogue


    Celia Brickman, Ph.D., is scholar-in-residence at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy of Chicago, where she practices psychotherapy and previously was the Director of Education and a faculty member. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago, has been a visiting lecturer at the Chicago Institute of Social Work and a senior fellow at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, and has given talks throughout the United States. In addition to this book, the first edition of which was nominated for a Gradiva Award, she is the author of several articles and book chapters on psychoanalysis, race and religion.

    "Celia Brickman’s masterpiece, Race In Psychoanalysis, is one of only a handful of books that I would describe as having profoundly changed the way I think about Freud and the development of psychoanalysis...Brickman’s book will remain a classic and generations of analysts will need to study it to understand and reconceptualize the most fundamental assumptions and tenets of psychoanalysis..."

    Lewis Aron, Director, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis.

    "Brickman’s remarkably innovative work turns the lens of post-colonial theory on the unconscious racial assumptions of psychoanalysis, offering a new and radical take on the central tension in Freud’s thoughts between valorizing and undermining the idea of the "civilized" world. Erudite, lucid and compelling, Race in Psychoanalysis is a timely argument for transforming psychoanalysis into a genuinely critical theory of the repudiation of the Other. It should be read by all students of psychoanalysis as well as everyone interested in the history of psychoanalysis and its contribution to modern thought."

    Jessica Benjamin, author of Beyond Doer and Done To: Recognition Theory, Intersubjectivity and the Third."

    "In Race in Psychoanalysis: Aboriginal Populations in the Mind, Celia Brickman illuminates the manner in which our colonialist and enslaving past continues to reverberate within the construction of psychoanalytic theory and practice. Taking a thoughtful and detailed tour through the history of Freud’s relationship with the sociopolitical forces within Europe during his time, Brickman chronicles the various iterations of the use of the darkened masses as timeless and primitive. Illuminating the way race and racialized object relations permeate our canonical texts, her perspective is a wonderful new resource to locate pathways to a multicultural, racial, and ethnically diverse discourse within theory construction and training in psychoanalysis."The pitfalls and paradoxes concerning race that are embedded within the field" become points of access for those perceived as other, not-white, and different from whiteness to become psychoanalysts. Brickman points to the lived psychodynamics of racialization as the way to further Freud’s wish that his project be for the people."

    Annie Lee Jones, clinical psychologist/psychoanalyst, member of Black Psychoanalysts Speak.

    "Equipped with a mastery of post-colonial theory, critical race theory, feminist critique and theories from religious studies, as well as a sophisticated understanding of psychoanalytic theory, Ms Brickman offers us a radical perspective on Freud's meta-psychological, cultural and clinical thought. Ms Brickman offers cogent summaries of Freud's writings and extrapolates numerous examples from a vast body of clinical and cultural texts demonstrating a deep familiarity with his oeuvre."

    Romy A. Reading is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in individual psychological treatment for adults and adolescents. To read this review in full, please see the following: Reading, R. A. (2021) Race in psychoanalysis: aboriginal populations in the mind: by Celia Brickman, New York, Routledge, 2018, 234 pp., £25.89, ISBN: 9781138749399. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 102:642-645