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White Privilege: Psychoanalytic Perspectives

New book: “White Privilege”.  This book is organized around two basic ideas: first, that “privilege”, as in “white privilege”, is often conflated with economic and political privilege, as if there are not other forms of privilege (e.g. the privilege of being part of a community) that are at least as important. The fact that we use the word “privilege” unmodified in this way in itself reveals the unreflective materialism and orientation toward political dominance and submission that is a core part of “whiteness”. 

Second: that what passes as white guilt is not about having economic and political privilege, but is about being attached to these forms of privilege, about the awareness that one is not willing to give up these privileges.  The assertion of guilt serves to provide a cover of benevolence that obscures underlying destructive processes.  In this sense, “white guilt” is more like what Adam Phillips and Steven Mitchell described as “guiltiness”, in fact a defense against true guilt, i.e. guilt that takes responsibility for destructiveness. It is a core aim of this book to interrogate and critique some of the ways a distinction is often made between the way race plays out in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, and the way race plays out in society as a whole.


Psychoanalysis in an Age of Accelerating Cultural Change: Spiritual Globalization
Author: Neil Altman, Ph.D.
London and New York: Routledge, 2015
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This book addresses the current status of mental health work in the public and private sectors. The careful, thorough, approach to the individual person characteristic of psychoanalysis is mostly the province of an affluent few. Meanwhile, community-based mental health treatment, given shrinking budgets, tends to emphasize medication and short-term therapies. In an increasingly diverse society, considerations of culture in mental health treatment are given short shrift, despite obligatory nods to cultural competence. The field of mental health has suffered from the mutual isolation of psychoanalysis, community-based clinical work, and cultural studies. This book shows how these areas of study and practice require and enrich each other - the field of psychoanalysis benefits by engaging marginalized communities; community-based clinical work benefits from psychoanalytic concepts, while all forms of clinical work benefit from awareness of culture. Including reports of clinical experiences and programmatic developments from around the world, its international scope explores the operation of culture and cultural differences in conceptions of mental health. In addition the book addresses the origin and treatment of mental illness, from notions of spirit possession treated by shamans, to conceptions of psychic trauma, to biological understandings and pharmacological treatments. In the background of this discussion is globalization, the impact of which is tracked in terms of its psychological effects on people, as well as on the resources and programs available to provide psychological care around the world.

“The Analyst in the Inner City: Race, Class and Culture through a Psychoanalytic Lens”
Second Edition. 
Author: Neil Altman, Ph.D.
London and New York: Routledge, 2010
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These books take psychoanalysis to its margins: to the people excluded by traditional theory and practice, the very people made peripheral by society at large. Just as psychoanalytic treatment seeks to foster personal integration of the psychically marginal, so this book seeks to identify, explore, and transcend the exclusionary boundaries of traditional psychoanalytic practice. The book not only locates psychoanalysis in the real world, but explores the enormous contribution a modernized psychoanalysis can make to the difficult problems of contemporary social and political life.

Relational Child Psychotherapy
Co-authored with: Richard Briggs, Ph.D., Daniel Gensler, Ph.D., Jay Frankel, Ph.D., and Pasqual Pantone, Ph.D. 
New York: Other Press, 2002
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This book offers a rich overview of relational models in psychoanalysis the their implications for the treatment of children.  The problems and strategies for approaching the clinical relationship between child and therapist, as well as between parents and therapist, are examined in depth.  The book explores the role of the therapist versus role of the therapist in the extra-clinical context of a child’s life, the therapeutic aspects of play, and the unique behaviors of children manifested in the therapeutic environment. 

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