Exploring the Use and Misuse of Race in the Clinical Situation

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Organised by:

Tavistock Relationships

05 February 2021

Time: 14:00 - 17:00

Price: £60

Location: online


Our preoccupations about difference in the form of ethnicity or race and their lived experience are always present in subtle ways in the privacy of our daily thoughts and feelings, imagination and dreams.

This is sometimes overlooked by an assumption that such matters are to do with being a person of colour when the reality is that we are all ethnically located and speak from that cultural positioning regardless of our skin colour or background.

However, engaging with the significance of these deep structures of thought and feeling in the consulting room often evokes excessive anxiety that can obstruct thoughtful and sensitive scrutiny about the nuances of these preoccupations in the unconscious, what is being grappled with and communicated by the patient.

In this CPD afternoon, Narendra Keval will present his thinking in this area, before opening up into a discussion. He will explore how race emerges in the patient’s mind and the psychic functions of these preoccupations that differ from one moment to the next.

These movements can flow from a sense of curiosity that signals a wish to explore and deepen the relationship to the self and others, through the creative use of the analytic setting, to a misuse which involves a retreat into a racist state of mind where destructive impulses aim to thwart and damage the self and others.

Discerning what state of mind is at play is a fluid matter that becomes particularly challenging as it will depend on the content and emotional atmosphere of the clinical situation, and what feelings are provoked and evoked at any given moment.

Keval argues that these states of mind can co-exist to varying degrees in individuals, groups and organisational/societal life, creating particular kinds of predicaments and challenges in how we engage with them.

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