Our Historic Moment

by Fanny Brewster, Ph.D., MFA, LP, Jungian Analyst

We are beginning a historic new time in our American collective, welcoming a new president, a first African Asian American woman vice-president, with an electoral change that reinforces the strength of our American democracy.  This is important to me as an African American woman, a mother, and a descendent of African slaves.  All of these and more are relevant to my personal and professional life.  The politics of America, and the constant striving for social justice, have been and remain hallmarks of the life of America’s citizens of color.  We have depended on American laws and acts of justice–from the Abolitionist Movement to the Black Lives Matter Movement, to provide us with visions and acts of freedom for our bodies, our minds and hope for our future children of color.  The economic, political, and educational struggles of Africanist people lasted through four hundred years of slavery.  Our cultural lives have been marked through these centuries with an awareness of the struggle for survival, and the necessity of faith, tied to a belief in the resiliency of our cultural group.  This is a part of my American identity as an Africanist woman and my calling as a Jungian analyst.

Psychoanalysis began from Eurocentric roots.  As a Jungian analyst, I have been taught American Jungian psychology with the elements of this Eurocentrism, including its influences of raciality and colonialism.  I believe that the movement of 21st century psychoanalysis, is to move us into a consciousness that acknowledges the pain of American racism, while creating a new voice of diversity and inclusion.  These must always be recognized, as they have so often been excluded, as a part of our training as professionals in the field of psychology.  The attention we give to racial diversity, inclusion and equity, provides more assurance that we as practitioners, can give our patients a deeper understanding of compassion and healing. In advancing the relationship between social justice and psychoanalysis, we must accept our historical beginnings, and commit to integrating the specialization of psychoanalysis through the acceptance of those traditionally designated as “Other”, due to skin color, culture or ethnicity. We as psychoanalysts are not separate from our American politics, and therefore social justice which must always speak to issues of American societal racism, and its elimination.  The consciousness of the American psyche bears the history of slavery and the potential for repair.  These have a presence that includes how we live psychologically–as citizens and psychoanalysts. 

We cannot separate the two because this is a time that calls us to be in humility for all that we have endured as American citizens of a racialized body politic, as we become even more conscious containers for healing racism, within our psychoanalytical clinical settings, as well as for the communities we serve. 

We embody all of our history–no matter how painful. In this moment, we must hold a vision and light for revealing and healing our racialized American shadow.

Fanny Brewster Ph.D., M.F.A. is a Jungian analyst, Professor of Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute and member analyst with PAJA. She is a multi-genre writer who has written about issues at the intersection of Jungian psychology and American culture. The Racial Complex:  A Jungian Perspective on Culture and Race is her most recent book. (Routledge, 2019). Dr. Brewster is available through her website, www.fannybrewster.allyou.net/

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