Title: Ambivalence, Racism, and Xenophobia: Loving/Hating Thy Neighbor as Thyself
Presenter(s): Stephanie Swales, Ph.D.
Date/Time: January 29, 2022, 9AM-4PM
Location: To Be Announced
Credit Hours: 6 Hours
Workshop Description: Drawing from Stephanie Swales’ recently published book, co-authored with Carol Owens, Psychoanalysing Ambivalence with Freud and Lacan: On and Off the Couch (Routledge,2019), this presentation will explore racism and other forms of xenophobia through a psychoanalytic lens, using the key concept of ambivalence and highlighting how and why libidinal investments, our modes of enjoyment, are wrapped up in our prejudices. Examples will be presented both from clinical practice and from contemporary social events, such as some of the social responses to the outbreak of COVID-19—including Sinophobia and “maskophobia”. Participants will gain an understanding of how to apply the theoretical material presented to clinical work as well as contemporary social life.
Far from being about “mixed feelings,” as Freud explained the concept in his paper Totem and
Taboo, ambivalence involves the conflict between two equally strong currents that are “localized in the subject’s mind in a way that they cannot come up against each other” (Freud, 1913, p. 35); when one current is conscious, the other is unconscious. To have an unconscious in these terms is therefore at one and the same time to be ambivalent. What is more, we are deeply ambivalent about our own jouissance, our own modes of enjoyment, and employ various mechanisms to reject the hated aspects of ourselves into the Other as embodied by our neighbor who may be different from us in terms of race, gender identity, religion, and so on. We are fundamentally ambivalent creatures, ambivalent about ourselves as well as about our neighbors, and therefore any account of forms of xenophobia (as the fear of “the foreigner”, of the outgroup), including racism, must take into account our ambivalent human nature. Further, following the Judeo-Christian dictate to “love thy neighbor as thyself” we can take from Freud’s account of the vicious punitive nature of the superego that we are actually not very good at loving ourselves, that we hate ourselves just as we love ourselves, so it might be more correct to command, “hate thy neighbor as thyself”.
1. Learn how the concept of ambivalence can illuminate racism and other forms of
2. Learn how to understand racism and other forms of xenophobia as intimately related to
our ways of enjoying.
3. Learn how to understand racism and other forms of xenophobia as phobias
4. Be able to make connections between the theory learned and how it could translate to
Presenter(s) OR Readings (if applicable):
Stephanie Swales, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Dallas, a
practicing psychoanalyst, a licensed clinical psychologist, and a clinical supervisor located in
Dallas, Texas. She has authored two books: Psychoanalysing Ambivalence with Freud and
Lacan: On and Off the Couch (Routledge, 2019), co-authored with Carol Owens, and
Perversion: A Lacanian Psychoanalytic Approach to the Subject (Routledge, 2012). She is also
the author of numerous articles and book chapters on the theory and practice of Lacanian
psychoanalysis. She is the founder of the Dallas/Fort Worth area Lacan Study Group, serves as Secretary for the Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology (APA’s Division 24), and is on the executive boards of the Dallas Postgraduate Program in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy as well as the Dallas Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology.
Hook, D. (2018). Racism and jouissance: Evaluating the “racism as (the theft of) enjoyment”
hypothesis. Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 23(3), 244-266.
Recommended Reading: Especially the last two chapters of
Swales, S. & Owens, C. (2019). Psychoanalysing Ambivalence with Freud and Lacan: On and Off the Couch. New York & London: Routledge.
Continuing Medical Education
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the
accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) and The Dallas Psychoanalytic Center (DPC). APsaA is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of ____ AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters for this educational activity have relevant financial relationship(s)* to disclose with ineligible companies whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients. *Financial relationships are relevant if the educational content an individual can control is related to the business lines or products of the ineligible company. -Updated July 2021-