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Contemporary Freudian Society

OPENING DOORS, CREATING CHANGE "Discovering Conceptual Bridges between Psychoanalysis/Psychodynamic Therapies and the Black Liberation Movement SATURDAY ONLY

One Session Program (5 Contact Hours)

Presenters: Anton H. Hart, PhD, Alan Nathan, PsyD, Shawna Murray-Browne, LCSW-C, Paula Cole Jones, and the documentary “Hands Up” by Zinhle Essamuah
Date: Saturday, November 18, 2017
Location: American University, School of International Studies, Founder's Room, Lower Level (West Side of Intersection of Nebraska and New Mexico Ave with parking underground, Washington, DC
Time: 9:30am-4:30pm

Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies posit unconscious fantasies of the “racialized other” that stimulate fear, envy, and hatred. These fantasies manifest in dehumanization, violence, and domination of the racialized other. The Black Liberation Movement has taken various shapes and forms for centuries in its efforts to overcome racism. Most recently the Black Lives Matter movement has brought the systemic trauma of racism to national attention. The Black Liberation Movements are informed by their own sociopolitical, historical, and spiritual conceptualizations of the unconscious narratives that perpetuate racism and inform psychological, spiritual, and sociopolitical liberation.

In this conference we hope to build a conceptual bridge that highlights the ways that each discipline is looking at the same things with the same concerns about the dehumanizing effects of racial trauma even as we look through different lenses. On this conceptual bridge we also hope to discover mutually enriching ideas about the experience of psychological, spiritual, and sociopolitical liberation. We will explore how this type of collaboration can be applied to our clinical work, training programs, and cross-disciplinary working relationships.

The documentary film Hands Up by Zinhle Essamuah presents the viewer with the trauma of racism manifest in police violence after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and also focuses on the community and its use of spiritual resources in response to that trauma.  In this film we witness ways that the black community reclaimed its human identity and meaning in face of dehumanizing violence. We will have the privilege of dialoguing with the executive director of this documentary film.

Paula Cole Jones, professional consultant and Founder of ADORE (A Dialogue on Race and Ethnicity) will present “Racial Identity and the White Dilemma”.

Shawna Murray-Browne will present on the nature of an Afro-centric liberation focused frame for psychotherapy and wellness practice.

Dr. Anton Hart, our keynote speaker, poses a critique of the multicultural competence model in its tendency to approach racial difference as a problem to be managed. Such an approach encourages the dissociation of authentic openness and vulnerability and deemphasizes the subjective and co-participatory aspects of engaging racial trauma and other matters of human difference. Dr. Hart, drawing on hermeneutic philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer’s notions of dialogue and of necessary loss, offers an alternative manner of engaging issues of race, difference and otherness, one that emphasizes the cultivation of curiosity and a stance of radical openness in the psychotherapeutic situation. Dr. Hart will address the inherent anxieties associated with talking about race and fighting racism, with attention to both individual and institutional defensive processes that tend to arise with this work. His keynote address will offer us a method to communicate with one another about the bridges we discover.

Dr. Alan Nathan’s presentation describes the piers and beam girders that can form the foundation of a bridge across the unconscious narratives of racism. He also presents the unconscious narratives that support the human potential for liberation from the destructive forces that drive racism and that make mutual recognition, transformation, and love of diversity possible. He draws from Freud and modern relational psychoanalytic perspectives as well as from black scholars such as Frederick Douglas and spiritual leaders such as Walter Earl Fluker that inform the Black Liberation Movement. He will provide vignettes related to his clinical work and his experience participating in racial justice work to exemplify his ideas.

The premise of this program is that practitioners of psychoanalysis and the psychodynamic therapies can benefit from understanding Black Liberation perspectives on the unconscious, racism, trauma and healing. We will provide opportunities for the sharing of differing and complementary perspectives in large and small groups. The conference will be comprised of a keynote address by Dr. Anton Hart, a paper presentation by Dr. Alan Nathan, the viewing of a documentary on Ferguson, and conversations among the presenters, the executive producer of the documentary, panelists/activists and attendees.

Program Schedule


Saturday, November 18th

9:15 – Registration

9:30 – 9:45 – Introduction/Housekeeping

9:45 – 10:30 – Aton Hart Keynote Presentation

10:30 – 10:50 – Attendees Dialogue with Presenter

10:50 – 11:00 – Break

11:00 – 11:45 – Small Group Discussions

11:45 – 1:15 – Lunch Break

1:15 – 1:45 – Alan Nathan Presentation

1:45 – 2:15 – Shawna Murry Browne Presentation

2:15 – 2:45 – Attendees Dialogue with Presenter

2:45 – 2:55 – Break

3:00 – 3:45 – Small Group Discussions

3:50 – 4:30 – Large Group Discussion/Wrap Up

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Registration Details

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