Prejudice, Cultural Prejudice, and Countertransference

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Organised by:

British Psychotherapy Foundation

15 July 2023

Price: £25


Friends Meeting House
43 St. Giles
United Kingdom

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How do we differentiate between cultural prejudice and racism, given that these terms are often used interchangeably? Prejudice is an intrinsic attitude towards another individual which holds no logic or reasoning. Racism, on the other hand, refers to hateful discrimination of races, considering some as superior to others. This distinction suggests that, while there is an obvious link between the two, prejudice and racism cannot be considered as the same.

In his presentation, Kannan Navaratnem will propose that unconscious prejudice (based on anxiety, fear, paranoia about identity and culture) and our identifications (rooted in family, community, and society), as well as the interplay between these two areas merit psychoanalytic study and understanding. He also suggests that analyst and analysand bring to their encounter not only their deeper intrapsychic conflicts and difficulties, but also socio-cultural issues of their backgrounds with which they are consciously or unconsciously preoccupied. Along with these come each other’s prejudices. The analysand is prejudiced against the analytic culture that the analyst represents, just as the analyst is prejudiced against what he/she sees as the analysand’s familial and social culture, and the pathology there. His argument is, that it is the analyst’s countertransference that works as a valuable tool for empathy, understanding, and change in relation to the prejudices in both the analyst and the analysand. He will illustrate his ideas with clinical vignettes from his analytic work.

If you have any questions about this event, please contact Elizabeth Edwards at

About the speaker:

Kannan Navaratnem is a psychoanalyst in private practice in London and a member of the Institute of Psychoanalysis and the British Psychoanalytical Society. He is a training analyst for child and adult psychotherapy trainings at the Tavistock Clinic and the British Psychotherapy Foundation. He is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London, and teaches in China, as well as at the Institute of Psychoanalysis, British Psychoanalytic Association, British Psychotherapy Foundation, and the Tavistock Clinic, where he has been the inter-cultural psychotherapy clinical seminar leader for the last fifteen years. Previously he was a consultant adult psychotherapist at the Forest House psychotherapy clinic in the NHS, and editor of News & Events and Beyond the Couch publications of the Institute of Psychoanalysis and of the Bulletin of the British Psychoanalytical Society.

CPD: 1.5 hours

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