The Crisis in American Psychoanalysis

Jon Mills has just published a piece in Fathom titled: ‘Burning Down the House – The Crisis in American Psychoanalysis: How Wokeism and Identity Politics are Destroying the Profession and Marginalising Jews’. He follows Cary Nelson’s measured and forensic investigation of the Lara Sheehi case, currently being formally investigated by the US Department of Education, with a warning: the case shows that, without challenge, radical identity politics will destroy the profession of psychoanalysis. Below is the verbatim start of the essay – to read the whole essay go to Fathom.

‘I used to work as a clinical psychologist on a 40-bed inpatient psychiatry unit of a general hospital. The ward was challenging but ran well until a person with borderline personality disorder was admitted to the unit, then all hell would break loose. Emotional drama, acting out, yelling, and general disruption would begin to erode the safety and healing space of the therapeutic milieu. Accusations would fly, punctuated by verbal hostility, devaluation, and rage followed by temper tantrums, reprisals, and the need for revenge. Patients and staff were split-off into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and often pitted against each another, followed by further antagonism, destructive envy, retaliatory aggression, and threats that sometimes led to violence or being expelled from the unit. On one occasion, a female patient set fire to her room attempting to burn down the floor. This might be an apt metaphor to describe what is currently transpiring in American psychoanalysis today. The house is divided and is precariously close to self-implosion, if not simply being set ablaze.

The borderline in the house is woke ideology fuelled by identity politics where race, gender, anticolonialism, and social justice activism is steering the field into a warped yet dominant narrative of oppression and power held by privileged white heteronormative men and Jews. And a particularly insidious division or splitting within psychoanalytic organisations is based on race. The Psychoanalytic Division of the American Psychological Association (APA) has already been largely captured by wokeism in its turn toward Critical Social Justice (CSJ), and the newest casualty is the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA). And the same person is behind all the brouhaha: Lara Sheehi.’

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  1. […] But it’s the recommendations which are key and they are posted below, verbatim from p16 (note how the term ‘equality’ has morphed into ‘equity’ here). To sum up, the commission calls for the recruitment of an army of DEI consultants at all levels of the profession to correct systemic racism in American psychoanalysis. In other words, this report will be used as justification to flood the field with even more activists. We all know how that will pan out. American psychoanalysis is in enough trouble as it is. […]

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