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Our Obligations


January 11, 2021 - A message from co-presidents Teresa Méndez and Daniel Buccino.

Dear AAPCSW Members and Colleagues,

We are living in truly epochal times with a deadly centenary pandemic and an ominous bicentenary insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. These are not everyday stressors. Anxiety, depression, substance misuse, and domestic violence have been off the charts through the pandemic and have exploded again over the last few days.

Though it remains as difficult now to find the right words as it has over the past four years, this is what psychoanalytic free association requires – to speak freely. We work to help ourselves and our patients pursue the Aristotelian (and Freudian) ethic of right and free speaking - free to say the right thing in the right way to the right person at the right time, but not to say everything all the time to everyone. (In this way, perhaps the suspension of Donald Trump's account by Twitter might be understood as a psychoanalytic intervention.)

Today we join our sister organizations in calling on Congress and the cabinet to fulfill their obligations by removing President Trump through impeachment or invocation of the 25th Amendment. But we also call for something more.

What we have seen this week underscores the ways in which Whiteness itself is pathology with potentially grave morbidity and mortality. The illness of Whiteness will not end with the removal of the President from office nor with the inauguration of a new administration. It resides in all of us. So even as we consider how to deal with an inciting President and homegrown insurgency with roots deep in the Confederacy, we must also recognize the most insidious insurgency may be the internalized vulnerabilities of Whiteness itself.

It is the proper work of psychoanalysis to help heal Whiteness, as agonizing as that work will be. Otherwise we will continue to see the type of deadly grandiosity, delusions, paranoia, displacements, projections, and jouissance that we saw in Washington this week, in Charlottesville and elsewhere across the country over the past months and years and, indeed, throughout every facet of society over the past 400 years.

While psychoanalysis necessarily may be more committed to narrative truth than it is to historical truth, psychoanalysis is still a scientific project with remarkable efficacy and effectiveness. We must remain committed to the pursuit of truth. Facts remain the antidote to the raging pathologies caused by the Big Lie(s) of tyranny – the lies of a stolen election and the lies of Whiteness.

There is a clear interest on our listserv and among our membership in speaking freely about these issues. How do we hold our President accountable? How do we understand him and his followers? What does this say about our democratic experiment? What does this say about each of us in AAPCSW? And what can we as psychoanalysts, and, perhaps most importantly, as social workers with a commitment to social justice, DO about these things?

In an effort to come and speak together as colleagues, we will convene a Presidential Town Hall this Monday, January 11, 2021, from 7:30-9:00pm EST. We don’t anticipate total agreement or a last word on these issues. Rather, we hope to hold a space for reflection on where we are and where we may be going – as social workers, as analysts, as citizens. We hope you will join us.

Thanks for listening. Thanks for understanding.
Dan Buccino and Teresa Méndez
Co-Presidents, AAPCSW