License to Hate: Understanding Racist States of Mind


Guest Speaker: Narendra Keval Adult and adolescent psychotherapist and consultant clinical psychologist

Thursday 6 October 2016 (6.30pm ‐ 8.30pm) 
Fee: £25 (£15 concessions ‐ students, unwaged, Trust staff)
Venue: Tavistock Centre, London

The provocative use of immigration issues in the recent British referendum has provided fertile ground and license for the racist imagination to flourish; sentiments which were expressed in Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech almost 40 years ago. Powell portrayed the immigrant as an unwelcome stranger causing psychic and social mayhem to an idealised English landscape and social order. The crude racist graffiti on the walls of black and asian neighbourhoods in the 70’s, has found new ground in the aftermath of Brexit as we witness familiar etchings of hatred towards other communities.

Racist events wherever we encounter them, have an unconscious narrative that has a recurring theme in which bewilderment about psychic/social change and perceived injustices result in grievances that are often sited in socio‐ economic battlegrounds (unemployment, housing, immigration, border controls etc.) What is at stake however, is the sense of self; a self that is wounded by a deeper source of lament that contains feelings of rejection, shame and humiliation and which appears to fuel the murderousness in racism. Difference and diversity is not only experienced as a symbolic loss, there is also a toxic grievance that a betrayal has taken place in which a phantasied couple or authority have allowed a perceived influx of strangers to contaminate an idealised relationship; manifest in notions of a geographical place, time, customs, traditions or a sense of the familiar, free of unwelcome intrusions and frustration.

Instead of mourning, these multi‐layered losses coalesce and bind the emotional turmoil into an opportunistic structure of racism that seeks revenge through omnipotence and manic mechanisms which offer the additional excitement of hatred, cruelty and violence. This involves traumatising the ‘other’ by attacking their links to good or potent objects and their symbolic equivalent in the world of language, culture and customs that constitute a personal and cultural identity. In this way, the racist communicates their inner state of fragmentation, persecution and a profound feeling of being robbed by inducing this state of mind in their victim.

Some of these themes will be explored by looking at the quality of thinking and the predicaments and challenges of engaging with racist states of mind including in the consulting room.

Thinking Space is a monthly learning forum at the Tavistock Clinic, which explores issues of race, culture and diversity in therapy/mental health. Please book online or contact us on 020 8938 2304 to book and pay by credit/debit card over the phone. FURTHER INFORMATION
Conference, CPD and Events Unit, Tavistock Centre, 120 Belsize Lane, London NW3 5BA 
Tel: 020 8938 2304 Email: CPDEvents@tavi‐


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