Freud Memorial Lecture

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Organised by:

University of Essex

27 May 2022

Time: 18:00 - 19:30

Price: Free


Essex Business School Building
University of Essex Colchester Campus, Essex Business School Building, Wivenhoe Park

United Kingdom

Map of address


Join us as the Freud Memorial Lecture returns in 2022 as an in-person event. The lecture will be given by Professor Fakhry Davids.

‘From the Narcissism of Minor Differences to Internal Racism:
Development of a Concept’

The narcissism of minor differences is turned to as a concept that sheds light on the psychological mechanisms that animate racism – why we cling so powerfully to positive identification with our in-group, whilst projecting hostility onto an out-group. However, Freud himself suggested that his concept does little to explain the phenomena it describes.

I begin by reviewing the concept as developed by Freud and, using his theory of the Oedipus complex as a yardstick, attempt to delineate the criteria that lend a psychoanalytic concept explanatory power. I suggest that this derives from its ‘construct validity’, which is grounded in clinical observation, and argue that the narcissism of minor differences continues to fall short on this count – there has been little attempt to explore and develop the concept clinically, and its construct validity is, instead, taken for granted. I go on to argue that the model of internal racism that I put forward satisfies these criteria, and delineate the ways in which it may be considered a development of the concept of the narcissism of minor differences. I focus on its claims to construct validity, which enables it to access a deeper level of the psychodynamics of racism that emerge clinically, as well as bringing psychological depth to the understanding of instances of racism in the outside world.

The Speaker: Fakhry Davids, M.Sc. (Clin Psych), is a psychoanalyst in full-time clinical practice. He is a Fellow and Training Analyst of the British Psychoanalytic Society, Honorary Associate Professor in the Psychoanalysis Unit, University College London, and is the current Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis, Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex. He has previously held clinical positions at the Nafsiyat Intercultural Therapy Centre in London, the London Clinic of Psychoanalysis, and the Tavistock Clinic, where he is now a Visiting Lecturer. He is a founding Board Member of Partners in Confronting Collective Atrocities, PCCA (, which utilises the Group Relations method to work with the psychic impact of atrocities such as the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba. He has published papers on a number of different topics, a book Internal Racism: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Race and Difference, co-edited, with Naomi Shavit, Irma Brenman Pick’s Authenticity in the Psychoanalytic Encounter, and has a volume on Working with the Aftermath of Atrocities, co-edited with Veronika Grüneisen, a German colleague, in preparation. He is on the Editorial Board of Psychoanalytic Dialogues.

5.00 – 6.00pm Drink & canapes reception (complimentary)

6.00 – 7.00pm Lecture

Entry is free and open to all but please register your place at:

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