1st Edition

The Racial Complex A Jungian Perspective on Culture and Race

By Fanny Brewster Copyright 2020
    142 Pages
    by Routledge

    142 Pages
    by Routledge

    In The Racial Complex: A Jungian Perspective on Culture and Race, Fanny Brewster revisits and examines Jung’s classical writing on the theory of complexes, relating it directly to race in modern society. In this groundbreaking exploration, Brewster deepens Jung’s minimalist writing regarding the cultural complexes of American blacks and whites by identifying and re-defining a psychological complex related to ethnicity.

    Original and insightful, this book provides a close reading of Jung’s complexes theory with an Africanist perspective on raciality and white/black racial relationships. Brewster explores how racial complexes influence personality development, cultural behavior and social and political status, and how they impact contemporary American racial relations. She also investigates aspects of the racial complex including archetypal shadow as core, constellations and their expression, and cultural trauma in the African diaspora. The book concludes with a discussion of racial complexes as a continuous psychological state and how to move towards personal, cultural and collective healing. Analyzing Jung’s work with a renewed lens, and providing fresh comparisons to other literature and films, including Get Out, Brewster extends Jung’s work to become more inclusive of culture and ethnicity, addressing issues which have been left previously unexamined in psychoanalytic thought.

    Due to its interdisciplinary nature, this book will be of great importance to academics and students of Jungian and post-Jungian studies, sociology, politics, history of race, African American studies and African diaspora studies. As this book discusses Jung’s complexes theory in a new light, it will be of immense interest to Jungian analysts and analytical psychologists in practice and in training.

    Preface by Samuel Kimbles;  Introduction;  Chapter 1: The Nature of Complexes;  Chapter 2: The Racial Complex;  Chapter 3: Childhood: The Shaping of Psychological Complexes;  Chapter 4: A Cultural Constellation;  Chapter 5: Archetype, Shadow, Complex;  Chapter 6: Culture and Race;  Chapter 7: Cultural Trauma and the Racial Complex;  Chapter 8: Transference and Countertransference;  Chapter 9: Emergence From Grievance to Grief: The Literary Arts;  Chapter 10: American Cinema: Get Out;  Chapter 11:The Paradox of Race and Racism;  Chapter 12: Healing Cultural and Racial Trauma;  Chapter 13: Closing Reflections; Index.


    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 and Archetypal Grief (both Routledge).

    "Fanny Brewster introduces the construct of the Racial complex into the post Jungian and Postmodern lexicon and discourse in Analytical theory, training and clinical praxis. In so doing, she opens portals through which the light of consciousness emerges and illuminates the shadowed prism of racism and the predicate social construction of the race fiction, living well within and external to Jungian communities. In this seminal book Fanny Brewster contributes to the individuation of Analytical psychology into the 21st century, from her lived personal and professional experience.

    The individuation of Analytical psychology requires interrogation of the archetype, shadow and complexes at the core of racism. This she does from the Africa-centric perspective. The Racial complex is a refinement and ethnic differentiation in the human experience of the American cultural complex, if not the broader Western cultural complex. The work is important to treatment of the infectious disease that is the psychopathology of racism. It is essential to the relevance of Analytical psychology in its efforts to heal the wounded soul of the nation. There are bodies on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean. There is blood on the landscape and the hands of American cultural history and psychology. Reparations are needed for all to be made whole. Jung suggests that the first stage of treatment is "confession". This new book invites us to the ‘confessional’ for this difficult and necessary task." - Alan G. Vaughan, Ph.D., JD, Jungian analyst, author of The African Diaspora: Post Modern Views of Jung and Analytical Psychology in Cultural Context (Routledge)

    "Dr. Brewster, an Africanist and Jungian analyst, is the most lyrical in her book, The Racial Complex, when she introduces the reader to her world of color vision; ‘brown pecans with streaks of black that have fallen’ into her grandfather’s yard, the bold passionate hue of ‘persimmon fruit hanging from trees,’ and ‘concord grapes lazing across the arbor.’ In her early years, seamless color surrounded by a world of ‘brown people,’ in all ‘shades of rich chocolate,’ contain her, and her comprehension of the world. However, when she comes of age, excursions downtown, introduce a new color, ‘white,’ and color becomes ‘colored.’ The seamlessness of her consciousness is permanently partitioned by segregation, hierarchical categories, worth and worthlessness, same and other. It is this experienced ‘tear’ in the fabric of Brewster’s consciousness that appears to serve as the creative and energetic core of her book, The Racial Complex.

    According to Brewster a ‘racial complex’ is formed as a result of multi-generational trauma, and the absorption of an affective field of associated fears, dangers and negative meanings attached to skin color. This is trauma defined as having the impact to divide one’s psyche, and, the potential to heal it. The ‘racial complex’ opens a field in psyche that contains symbolic processes of representation that can widen consciousness retrieving parts lost. In this context, it serves as a space holder that operates at the juncture of the felt presence of the sense of loss of wholeness. It initiates the opening for the return of personal autonomy and agency and the re-appearance in consciousness of past assaults and previously unbearable memories. It is in the broadening of the racial complex to include the healing potential included in the definition of all complexes, that defines Brewster’s important contribution to Jungian psychology, and its inspiration for enlarging Jungian theory to include the social-political context out of which we are all trying to reclaim ourselves." —Joan Golden-Alexis PhD, clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst

    "This book is an appreciation for and extension of Jung’s theory about the complexes, specifically related to the concept and experience of race, and asserts a psychological and cultural dynamic that can be termed: ‘the racial complex.’ In writing it, Brewster joins the quickening crescendo of knowledgeable individuals critiquing the colonialist viewpoint that delineates certain cultures and individuals as being so-called ‘primitives’ versus those more ‘civilized’ by writing from the perspective of the ‘Other.’ Embracing the ‘Other’ from an Africanist perspective joined with the lens of a Jungian scholar, Brewster draws out this dualistic viewpoint to its logical conclusion within the contextual parameters of Jungian thought. What she posits is an opportunity for fruitful dialogue for what has often been a polarizing topic in the clinic, academia, and other contexts.

    Brewster reminds each of us that there is only one human race. Her book is bold in its suggestion that we strive to be more conscious by holding the tension of the opposites that comprise a ‘racial complex.’ The invitation is for an engaged dialogue and re-evaluation that supports an emergence of a new conscious experience in relation to the psyche and to that of being human. The resultant conscious attitude could go a long way toward healing the race- based suffering that affects us all. This is an honest and well-informed book that is of value for the individual and the professional." - Marybeth Carter, PhD

    "Carl Jung’s theory of complexes is an integral part of his contribution to our understanding of the psyche and the vast domain of our personal and collective unconscious. He made brief mention of a black and a white racial complex. While it would be easy to dismiss his idea of racial complexes as rooted in his own racism, Fanny Brewster brings vast experience, scholarship, wisdom and Africanist cultural sophistication to this idea. After an insightful and very educative summary of Jung’s ideas of complexes, she both deconstructs and furthers his work to explore a racial complex that when explored and enriched can address transgenerational as well as future possibilities of racial identities. In her writing, the flaws in Jung’s thinking become a rich vein of exploration; a psychic adventure which fills the reader with both the trepidation and rewards that greet those brave enough to venture into their own shadow complexes. Fanny’s work encompasses the intergenerational dimension of complexes and the prospect of futures taking shape in the present. The racial complex refers to that "other" who lives under our skin." - William Allured, Ph.D., Brookhaven Institute, USA

    "Fanny Brewster enters into highly charged territory bringing the unconscious dynamics of race to the surface with all its concomitant fear and confusion, violence and grief. She helps us understand how our early experiences weave inexorably into a view of race that structures our thoughts, feelings and actions which we then take to be ‘the truth’ but is merely a remnant of repetitive intensities glued together by an archaic structure – a violent god with no concern for the costs of human suffering. By naming and differentiating the essential factors of multi-generational suffering woven into American society she brings forward the possibility of separating us from our unconscious racial assumptions. Dr. Brewster expects us to be uncomfortable as we read her work and that discomfort tells us we’re breaking new ground. She insists that we mine the idea of Race for every level of meaning, no matter how painful – she holds our feet to the fire understanding that only by facing the unfaceable can we grow as individuals and as a society. With her insights strongly in hand we may yet forge a new paradigm of human relations where differences are no longer weaponized.

    Dr. Brewster’s book is certainly a milestone in Jungian literature, addressing a difficult and inadequately explored area of Jung’s work regarding indigenous peoples and American people of color." - Joseph R. Lee, Jungian analyst; President of The Philadelphia Society of Jungian Analysts

    "Within the social construct of race, the first language we learn is the language of silence, but this book breaks that silence. Jung's idea of the racial complex, like many other ideas that point us towards the impact of race on our collective psyches, has been often overlooked or relegated to being of marginal interest. Fanny Brewster, however, expertly explores Jung's racial complex to both reveal what has been hiding in plain sight and as a hopeful way forward that attends to the hurt of racism and our collective healing." - Eugene Ellis, MA, Dip, IATE. PSA accredited, UKCP registered Integrative Arts Psychotherapist; Director of the Black, African and Asian Therapy Network

    "Fanny Brewster’s The Racial Complex is a major contribution to the understanding of the most corrosive and destructive cultural complex in American history that continues to be an unending source of great suffering in America today.  As the study of cultural complexes around the world has shown, their potency and toxicity are amplified exponentially by the accumulated effects of recurring trauma that are passed on from generation to generation." - Thomas Singer, MD, co-editor of The Cultural Complex and other books on Cultural Complexes in Australia, Europe, Latin America, North America and Southeast Asia