Houston Psychoanalytic Society
Cultural Competence
The Mental Pain of Minorities
Salman Akhtar, MD
Saturday, November 5, 2022
10:00AM – 1:15PM Central Time

(Cultural Competence)

Live via Zoom
*Pre-Registration required for Zoom invitation

Registration Fees
HPS Active Members: $90
HPS Friend Members: $105
HPS Student Members: $45
Non-Members: $120

Instructional Level: Advanced
Dr. Akhtar highlights opportunities for clinicians to listen for and respond to the effects of discrimination, marginalization, and misinterpretation that create psychic pain for those belonging to minority groups, with the hope of aiding healing and increasing mutual understanding. He will discuss how collaborative efforts between individuals belonging to the minority and majority groups play an integral role in fostering greater positive change for all members of society.

Dr. Akhtar posits that the discord between the subjectivity of minorities and their cultural environment causes chronic mental pain or, in Freud’s (1926) terms, seelenschmerz. The unease felt by minorities arises from being stereotyped by a majority’s projections, as well as from the figure-ground discord in their own subjectivity. Seeking to anesthetize their distress might involve intrapsychic and interpersonal withdrawal, and other problematic defensive strategies.

Shifts and chasms in the larger culture will be further illustrated by clinical examples of how such phenomena reverberate in the individual psyche. Attention to the nuances of race, immigration status, and family structure will be introduced in the clinical material. Dr. Akhtar will provide an opportunity to demonstrate where clinicians might offer a therapeutic response to psychic pain associated with the experience of being a minority, both inside and outside of the clinical encounter.

After attending the program in its entirety, attendees will be able to:
  1. Enumerate some problems experienced by minorities.
  2. Delineate variables from both the external reality and interpsychic experience of minorities.
  3. Distinguish the ways in which majority plays a role in the creation of these problems.
  4. Identify ameliorative measures for resolving the pain of minorities in treatment.
Salman Akhtar, MD is Professor of Psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College and a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. He has served on the editorial boards of Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalytic Quarterly. He has published 105 books of which 36 are solo-authored. Dr. Akhtar has delivered Plenary Addresses at both the APsaA and IPA meetings and has received the prestigious Sigourney Award for distinguished contributions to psychoanalysis. In addition, he has published 14 volumes of poetry and serves as a Scholar-in-Residence at the Inter-Act Theatre Company in Philadelphia.

Akhtar, S. (2014). The mental pain of minorities. British Journal of Psychotherapy, 30: 136-153.

Eng, D. & Han, S. (2019). Racial melancholia, racial dissociation: On the social and psychic lives of Asian Americans. Durham: Duke University Press.

Stoute, B. J. (2021). Black rage: The psychic adaptation to the trauma of oppression. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 69: 259-290.

Volkan, V. D. (2021). Trauma, prejudice, large-group identity and psychoanalysis. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81: 137-154.

Silhouette image from Shutterstock.
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 American Psychoanalytic Association and the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, as a co-sponsor of Houston Psychoanalytic Society. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of 3 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-
Houston Psychoanalytic Society is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Houston Psychoanalytic Society maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

HPS, through co-sponsorship with the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, also offers approved CEs for social workers, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists.
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