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Brooklyn Discussion Group - Whiteness on The Couch, Natasha Stovall, Ph.D.

Sunday, June 27th 10:45 am to 1:00 pm

Whiteness on The Couch

Natasha Stovall, Ph.D.

Sunday, June 27th

10:45 AM - 1:00 PM

My original purpose in "Whiteness on the Couch" was to create a frame to explore racialized or racist content with white clients. Rather than avoid or condemn, I wanted to find ways to “un-colorblind” my work with white clients and explore their more unformulated thoughts on race and themselves as raced people. After several years of thinking and working in this way, I am now in search of deeper theories of how to conceptualize and work with race with white clients. I have recently focused internal structures of individualism, and the ways that being part of the dominant and oppressive social group is an inevitable source of conscious and unconscious conflict and confusion for white clients. Encouraging and supporting white clients in questioning the ways their inner life reflects an environment organized around an brutally racialized "winners and losers" status quo could shed light on various affect states that seem to present over and over with white clients (feeling/not feeling special, feeling/not feeling successful, being "successful" yet feeling unfulfilled and craving meaning, feeling alone/lonely, fear and shame about needing, shaming others for needing, pathologizing the idea of needing and vulnerability in all its manifestations.) And more transformationally, it can motivate people to take up the burden of living a life undoing whiteness: better understanding themselves and people of other lived experiences and addressing root social causes of collective dis-ease. Understanding the psychological costs of whiteness alongside the material privileges makes room for more resilient curiosity into social conditions, and a reintegration of the psychic fragmentation that is the ultimate outcome of the racialized injustice of western capitalism. The goal is not just a better adjusted individual but a better adjusted society, where collective, anti- racist ways of living that increase social connection and sources of comfort are essential to our understanding of mental “health”.

I look forward to an interactive and experiential discussion and encourage participants to share questions and thoughts about how these ideas resonate in your clinical and personal experiences. The work is only beginning, and I invite all of us to join in creating a treatment plan for undoing whiteness on the couch.  

Bio: Natasha Stovall is a clinical psychologist currently working in private practice with adults, adolescents and children. Her essays and cultural criticism have appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Spin. Her most recent essays are Whiteness on the Couch(Longreads, August, 2019) and “Eugenics Powers IQ and AI” (Public Books, March, 2021)


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