The African American Experience: Psychoanalytic Perspectives edited by Salman Akhtar brings together the contributions of distinguished mental health professionals and scholars of humanities to offer a multifaceted perspective on the transgenerational trauma of slavery, the hardship of single parent families, the ruthlessness of anti-black racism, and the crushing burden of poverty and social disenfranchisement on the African American individual. The book also sheds light on the resilience of spirit, the dignity of perseverance, and the glow of talent that is widespread in this group. It contains penetrating and informative biographical essays on Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Mohammad Ali, Barack Obama, and Oprah Winfrey. Such discourse on human greatness is balanced by the considerations of daily joy and anguish on clinical and societal levels. This wide-ranging and nuanced volume on the history, culture, and psychosocial struggles of African American people fills an important gap in the literature on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.
100 years ago Simon Carter Fuller, the first African American psychiatrist, was photographed with Sigmund Freud on his historic visit to Clark University in Massachusetts. This book is therefore long overdue. Salman Akhtar and his contributors movingly address the African American experience from personal, historical, biographical, cultural, and clinical perspectives. If we as Americans and psychoanalysts can acknowledge our denial and ignorance of African American history, and tolerate the shame over racism—in our society, in our field, and in ourselves—this book is a must read for all of us. Its impact cannot be minimized. I could not put the book down!
— Mark D. Smaller, President-elect, American Psychoanalytic Association
Covering generations of African American development, Salman Akhtar’s book is not only a must read, but a compelling introduction to history during slavery up through the days of Obama. It reinforces the fact that the issue of race is a complicated one and we are yet to be defined as a post-racial community. The book is a persuasive read for all.
— Charles J. Ogeltree JD, Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; founding and executive director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice
Part I: Core Stories
Chapter 1: The Five Hundred Year History of African Americans, by Jan Wright
Chapter 2: Psychoanalysis and African-Americans: a politico-historical overview, by Dionne Powell
Part II: Character Studies
Chapter 3: Command and Legacy: Martin Luther King, Jr., by Salman Akhtar and Shawn Blue
Chapter 4: Ideology and Identity: Malcolm X, by Clarence Watson and Salman Akhtar
Chapter 5: Power and Meaning: Muhammed Ali, by David Campbell
Chapter 6: Resilience and Influence: Oprah Winfrey, by Glenda Wrenn
Chapter 7: Charisma and Vision: Barack Obama, by Kimberlyn Leary
Part III: Cultural Spectrum
Chapter 8: Anti-black Racism, by Forrest Hamer
Chapter 9: African American Families: Still A Band of Slaves?, by LaShawnDa Pittman
Chapter 10: Personality Development in Different African-American Cultures, by Carlotta Miles
Chapter 11: Hollywood and African-Americans, by Christin Drake
Part IV: Clinical Strands
Chapter 12: An African American’s Becoming a Psychoanalyst: Some Personal Reflections, by Samuel Wyche
Chapter 13: The African-American Patient in Psychodynamic Treatment, by Cheryl Thompson
Chapter 14: Racial Transference Reactions in Psychoanalytic Treatment: An Update, by Dorothy Holmes
Chapter 15: White Analysts Working With Black Patients, by Jennifer Bonovitz
Chapter 16: Racial Enactments in Dynamic Treatment, by Kimberlyn Leary
About the Contributors
About the Editor:
Salman Akhtar, MD, is professor of psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College and training and supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia, PA.