Another Scandal Threatens Public Image of Psychoanalysis

The following communication was posted by a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 39 on their Forum. This division is the Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology and it represents, within the broad field of psychology, professionals who identify themselves as having a major commitment to the study, practice and development of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

Lara Sheehi, President-Elect of Division 39 of the APA, is being accused of antisemitism, discrimination, harassment, and hate speech. The allegations and evidence provided in many international news sources are quite serious. Here are just a few news articles out of dozens on the internet:

George Washington University Embroiled in Antisemitic Legal Fiasco — StopAntisemitism

The George Washington University was accused by the nonprofit StandWithUs of providing a pervasive, hostile, and discriminatory environment for Jewish and Israeli students in a complaint filed with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Right on Thursday.

The first is a non-profit, pro-Israel group filing a civil lawsuit against her and George Washington University (GWU) on behalf of Jewish and Israeli graduate students she has reportedly victimized. The complaint is public.  

The StandWithUs complaint under Title VI against her, GWU, and the psychology department is for antisemitic discrimination and harassment of students.  This involves alleged ethical infractions that she is violating and systematically abusing students who she has power and authority over, and hence falls under the jurisdiction of her professional conduct in general.  Outside her employment, she is accused of regularly advocating hate against Jews and Israelis on her Twitter account using vulgar language, and is said to even condone violence against Israeli citizens including death, as detailed in the complaint and news sources.   

The StandWithUs Title VI Complaint against George Washington University points to some of her Tweets: 

Dr. Sheehi’s disdain for Israeli and Zionist identities is well documented; she has made remarks such as “Israelis are so f****ing racist,” “Israelis can and will be cruel,” “Zionists are unhinged,” “you can’t be a Zionist and also a feminist” “F*** Zionism, Zionists…” “F*** every person who is not yet an anti-Zionist,” and “Zionists are so far up their own a****” (Twitter account @blackflaghag).  (p. 4, fn.8) 

The Washington Free Beacon article further shows screen shots of her Tweets and reports the following: “Her social media is littered with anti-Semitic statements, where she slams all Israelis as “f****ing racist” and declares that it is “so f****ng ridiculous how Zionism works.”  “Destroy Zionism and commit to land back, then we’ll take you seriously you f****ing genocidal f****s. F*** you,” she said in a tweet directed at the Israel Defense Forces. 

The Division should issue an immediate Statement to the membership and the public.  

The Division should open an ethics investigation on Dr. Sheehi and allow her due process. 

Because the public behavior of the President-Elect of the Division impacts on the public image of the Division and profession of psychoanalysis at large, it is incumbent on the Division to determine if Dr. Sheehi has engaged in conduct or performed an act, in the course of practising and/or representing the profession, that, having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable, or unprofessional.  

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