Transference and Race: An Intersubjective Conceptualization

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Abstract

Discussions of race-based transference in the psychoanalytic literature have been infrequent. When present, such transference has been described from the Freudian or Kleinian perspective, as either a manifestation of intrapsychic conflicts or projection of unwanted mental content onto the racial other. These views, although helpful in some situations, exclude other possible meanings of interracial transference. This article describes an approach based on contemporary intersubjective theories in which race-related transference is seen as one aspect of a person's ongoing construction of experience and understanding of the unique meaning of race for each patient is emphasized. The far-reaching influence of the analyst's race and culture in the development of transference is then described, and it is argued that the analyst needs to be aware of the culture embeddedness of her or his therapeutic endeavors. Treatment issues are discussed with clinical examples.

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