Introduction: Stumbling on our Past, Reflections on James Baldwin’s “My Dungeon Shook”

by Bernard Edelstein, MD


On the 60th anniversary of the publication of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, the author reflects on White America’s ongoing disavowal of its history of racism. He explores a powerful wish to bury that which makes us uncomfortable, or ashamed, or which leads us to feel we must give up narratives that we have long held to be true. Drawing on a trip to Germany, he considers his own reluctance to acknowledge and face the damages of racism being committed on a daily, ongoing basis.

American Imago, Volume 76, Number 3, Fall 2019, pp. 295-300

Link to Online Publication [fulltext is available and can be downloaded from Project Muse]

About the Author:

Bernard Edelstein, MD, is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is past President of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, where he is a training and supervising analyst and a member of the faculty. He is part time Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical School and a teacher and supervisor at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and at the Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program.

Previous Posts:

Don Lipsitt, MD (2020). Is Today’s 21st Century Burnout 19th Century’s Neurasthenia? The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 207(9): 773-777, September 2019.

Elsa Ronningstam, PhD (2020). Internal Processing in Patients with Pathological Narcissism or Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Implications for Alliance Building and Therapeutic Strategies. Journal of Personality Disorders, 34 (Suppl): 80-103.

Dan Jacobs (2019). Three’s a Crowd: Stella’s Pregnancy and the Arrival of an “Other” in A Streetcar Named Desire. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies. 16:3, 174– 180.

Fred Busch (2020). The Clinical Significance and Problems of a Traumaticentric ViewIn Trauma and the Destructive-Transformative Struggle: Clinical Perspectives, edited by Terrence McBride and Maureen Murphy. Routledge, p. 187-194.

Jeremy P. Nahum (2019). Louis Sander: Remembrances and Reflections on His Contributions.

James M. Herzog (2019). “Polarity, Paradox and the Organizing Process in Development”; Parent-Infant Psychotherapy and Child Analytic Technique: In Honor of Louis Sander. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 39:1, 98-108.

Lora Heims Tessman, PhD (2019). Momentums of Meeting. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 39 (1): 88-97.

Jane Hanenberg, EdD (2019). Review of the book Demons in the Consulting Room: Echoes of Genocide, Slavery and Extreme Trauma in Psychoanalytic Practice ed. by Adrienne Harris, Margery Kalb, and Susan Klebanoff. American Imago 76(2), 274-278.

Paola M. Contreras, PsyD (2019). Working with the Human Trafficking Survivor: What Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers and Medical Professionals Need to Know. In Working with the Human Trafficking Survivor: What Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers and Medical Professionals Need to Know, edited by Mary C. Burke. Routledge, pp. 61-80.

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