A new paper by a psychoanalyst looks like a hoax, but isn’t

June 11, 2021 • 10:30 am

When I first saw the paper below, which is still on the pages of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association—a journal I expected to be peer-reviewed journal and have a modicum of rigor even if it is about psychoanalysis—I thought it was a joke: a hoax “grievance” paper à la Pluckrose, Lindsay, and Boghossian.  But I don’t think it is. Instead, it’s a horrid, racist gemisch of obscurantist chest-beating in the guise of antiracism. Click on the screenshot to read it, or download the pdf here. (The full reference is at the bottom of the page.)

Just three quotes, besides the abstract above, give the tenor of the paper:

Parasitic Whiteness infiltrates our drives early on. The infiltrated drive binds id-ego-superego into a singular entity, empowered to dismiss and override all forms of resistance. The drive apparatus of Whiteness divides the object world into two distinct zones. In one, the Whiteness-infiltrated drive works in familiar ways—inhibited, checked, distorted, transformed—susceptible, that is, to standard neurotic deformations. In the other, however, none of this holds true. There the liberated drive goes rogue, unchecked and unlimited, inhibited by neither the protests of its objects nor the counterforces of its internal structures.

. . .Parasitic Whiteness generates a state of constantly erotized excitement, a drift toward frenzy.1 Fix, control, and arouse; want, hate, and terrorize. Whiteness resides at this always volatile edge, in a state of permanent skirmish, always taking on the never obliterated resistances of its nonwhite objects. Opaque to itself and hyperconscious of those objects, Whiteness pursues the impossible, a stable synthesis, an end point. It can therefore never rest. Blindly, then, it continues forward, unendingly bent on conquering. There seems no backward path, no mode of retreat. It faces an interminable forward march. If only it could totally and permanently transform these objects, turn the once feared and unknown into the now reduced and measured; turn the once unique and overwhelming into the now fungible and owned.

Whiteness originates not in innocence but in entitlement.

. . . Psychoanalytic work, then, need not properly target Whiteness itself here. Instead, it can effectively target the psychic receptor sites that provide Whiteness the interior vertical mapping on which it depends. The vertical map disrupts the identificatory bond that might once have bound subject to object. The bond persists, though, reshaped and hardened now into a vertical format. Identification morphs into disidentification, similarity into difference, affectionate care into sadistic cruelty. Diminish the spread and influence of these interior vertical receptor sites and, indirectly, the parasite of Whiteness is dislodged, loosed, itself becoming susceptible to exposure, as a differentiated and alien presence. Psychoanalytic work, in its most radical, fundamental, and, finally neutral forms, targets any and all of the effects of vertical mapping. Where verticality was, there horizontality will be.

Ah, the termites are dining well!  Imagine if this paper used any ethnicity other than “whiteness”. It would not have been publishable, and the author would have been damned and demonized forever for racism. Indeed, I’m baffled why the editor of this journal even published the screed. It appears to say nothing beyond whiteness being a parasitic infection of the mind that needs to be cured by psychoanalysis (of course).

Is this a joke or a hoax? I don’t think so. The author has written quite a few articles for the journal and is identified at the article’s end this way:

Faculty, New York Psychoanalytic Institute [NYPI]; co-founder of the Green Gang, a four-person collective working with climate change denial and the relation between the human and the natural worlds; Chair, Program Committee, American Psychoanalytic Association.

Indeed, he’s listed as a faculty member on the New York Psychoanalytic Institute website. He’s a real person!

Here’s a photo of Moss from the NY Post:

Now there’s a different Donald Moss, another physician, who hastened to tweet that he wasn’t the guy who wrote this execrable paper. I don’t see the “correction and apology” on the website, though.

Lee Jussim, a psychologist at Rutgers, points out the similarities between Nazi racism and Moss racism:

I don’t want to delve further into this steaming pile of psychoanalytic scat, as you can read the paper for yourself, and perhaps delve further into the writings of Dr. Moss. But you can conclude two things. First, this Donald Moss is off the rails, perhaps in need of treatment himself (but not psychoanalysis!). Second, the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association has no credibility and, apparently, no standards.

I wonder what his colleagues at the NYPI are thinking. . .

______________

Moss, D. 2021. On Having Whiteness. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 69:355-371.

42 thoughts on “A new paper by a psychoanalyst looks like a hoax, but isn’t

  1. Is the guilty Donald Moss actually a medical doctor? Not that it makes a serious difference, but I feel a kind of proprietary defensiveness about it.

    This kind of drek brings to my mind two quotes from the (stage version of the) Monty Python cheese shop sketch.

    This first is, “Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please.”

    and the second is, “What a senseless waste of human life.”

    1. It’s unlikely that he is, though not impossible. Psychoanalysis is to psychiatry as alchemy is to chemistry. A version 1 that showed willing but didn’t rely on the scientific method. While Freud was wrong about almost everything, I still give him credit for being the first to think about something that opened the field to later, more rational investigators.
      Oh, the British and Canadian branches of the Moss clan would also like to disown this Donald. Seems to me more than one US-production Donald has shown serious faults in the aftermarket scenario…

  2. Psychoanalytic work, then, need not properly target Whiteness itself here. Instead, it can effectively target the psychic receptor sites that provide Whiteness the interior vertical mapping on which it depends.… Diminish the spread and influence of these interior vertical receptor sites and, indirectly, the parasite of Whiteness is dislodged, loosed, itself becoming susceptible to exposure, as a differentiated and alien presence.

    Okay, now I’m worried about protecting my vertical receptor sites.

    I did a quick search for them and, after the quote in this paper, came up with

    “ a vertical splitting basically partitions material that is more or less accessible to consciousness… it is characterized by the existence, side by side, of attitudes operating on different levels—different structures of goals, aims, and moral and aesthetic values. Generally speaking, one side of this parallel existence is judged to be more in accord with reality, while the other can be judged infantile or turned towards immediate gratification.”

    So, basically, Moss’ paper is saying that it’s the psychanalyst’s job to make white people stop acting like a bunch of babies. Another version of “the white woman’s tears.” Object at any point, and you confirm the diagnosis.

    Of course, agreement is also confirmation. Freud had nonfalsifiability as a major virtue, but it looks like CT borrowed it consciously or unconsciously.

  3. The foundational dogma which undergirds the Cult of Wokeism is tripartite:
    1. All whites (and only whites) are racist.
    2. Racism is ubiquitous.
    3. Racism explains everything.
    All who embrace this pernicious ideology under the guise of “anti-racism” are engaging in magical thinking and in headlong flight from logic and reason.

  4. While the comparison to Nazi descriptions of Jews is interesting, “renders its hosts appetites voracious, insatiable, perverse” reminded me more of slave-era characterizations of blacks – also unable to control their appetites (in the broad sense, not the literal sense), but with ‘subhuman intelligence’ thrown in for good measure.

    Ah I guess that sort of ‘they can’t control their baser instincts!!!’ characterization is probably used in lots of cultures. It’s sort of a natural go-to if you want to justify taking away someone’s freedom to act, be they Jews, blacks, whites, or whatever.

  5. “Parasitic Whiteness renders its hosts’ appetites voracious, insatiable, and perverse.”

    Okay, there’s a title I can wear with pride, but it doesn’t seem fair to some of my more continent fellow Caucasians. 🙂

  6. Can anybody explain if the terms ‘ego’ and ‘id’ are still used and useful in the field of psychoanalysis? To me they seem very archaic but I don’t know.
    Also I can’t crack the paper open from the link (I don’t really want to anyway), but I don’t have the expectation that the author did any, you know, research to back up his conclusions.

    1. Id, ego, and superego still strike me as useful hypothetical constructs (even though they plainly have no actual, material correlates).

      1. “Happiness” may have material precursors, but I also find it a useful if immaterial construct.

          1. Since postmodernism is an attitude of skepticism of master narratives, it would seem to be the opposite of Freudian theory, which is founded on a set of master narratives.

  7. When are people going to understand that you can’t fight racism by engaging in racial essentialism?

    1. About the same time Sophisticated Theologians learn that blathering on about The Unbearable Lightness of the Ground of All Being just makes people think they’re full of crap.

      That would be “never”, I suspect.

  8. Surely journal editorial boards or at least reviewers can be dismissed or put on probation by a professional society of this discipline. I don’t know if there is a psychoanalytical professional society but the integrity of the field (assuming such a notion applies here) is maintained by the quality of its research, original papers, and peer review.

    This excremental article should call into question whether this journal should even continue to be in print or online.

  9. Only psychoanalysts (and perhaps not all of them) and their customers (ditto) take psychoanalysis seriously.

  10. Do white people really have all that much in common?
    “White doesn’t represent a shared culture and history in the way Black does,” The New York Times said on July 5 in explaining its decision.

    Not only does Whiteness not exist, but it is extremely dangerous…..

  11. This is indeed alarming and unacceptable, but not a new low for psychoanalysis. I believe that psychoanalysis is more a field of creative literature than actual science. Psychoanalysts often seem more interested in the emotional impact that their literature will cause than in discovering how anything really works.

    1. Then there are ton of people being bilked out of millions of dollars under the false impression that psychoanalysis will cure them.

      In my view, they’re a bunch of quacks. (I don’t mean to insult ducks with that!)

      1. I think psychoanalysis is naught but quackery, too, though I think Herr Doktor’s books The Future of an Illusion and Civilization and Its Discontents make for pretty interesting reading.

  12. The article is behind a paywall so I can’t see what, if anything, Moss measured or how. I doubt he measured anything but could be mistaken. If I’m right this is more evidence that psychoanalysis is not a science.

    1. About the only thing psychoanalysts have ever measured is the amount of cocaine in a tincture…

  13. I postulate that the author of this whiteness essay is just working a business plan. He has learned about Robin DiAngelo’s commercial operation, and hopes that a bit of the same language will push his own psychoanalysis fees up into the 5-digit range. Next, after the Psychoanalytic Association, we can look forward to disquisitions on how to remedy whiteness with homeopathy, Reiki, or herbal prostate supplements.

  14. Now come on friends and fellow WEIT fans: I saw this the other day (I can’t remember on whose twitter I saw it) ….. but it HAS to be a hoax. If it isn’t then the whole alignment of my universe (a VERTICAL alignment no doubt – hehehehe) is badly off kilter.

    Somebody has to be f’ing with us here.

    D.A.
    NYC

  15. For some weird reason, when I see his picture, I get the urge to knock the books out of his hand and steal his lunch money.

  16. Maybe he could work with another NYC analyst, Aruna Khilanani, who recently gave a talk at Yale Medical about white psychopathy. They could stage a lecture series at campuses around the country. It would meet all of the cravings of white guilt.

  17. For anyone interested, a critique of the postmodernist roots of this nonsense thinking was written in the 90’s by Sokal (yes, that Sokal) and Bricmont called Fashionable Nonsense. It explores the misuse of science by postmodernist thinkers. Another, broader critique of post modern thought is Higher Superstition by Gross, Leavitt, et al.

      1. Regardless of intellectual labels, Sokal was arguing against the misapplication of scientific principles in illegitimate ways. This practice was and is common in the social sciences. The basic philosophy underlying concepts such as subjective truth, lived experience, and indigenous ways of knowing is unsupportable in any quantifiable way. Whether post modernism or post structuralism, most concepts with these labels deny the possibility of objective truth and then misuse concepts such as quantum uncertainty to bolster the case. This is why much of what constitutes social literature is intellectual mush. Sokal, Pluckrose, Lindsay, et al. have illustrated this in rather incisive ways.

  18. Great replies here, thanks all for the suggested reading. Contemporary ‘fashions’ aside, the article’s real expose are the publication standards in this age of “Replication Crisis.” With every gear and lever of American ‘Research’ trained to throw off systemic accountability somewhere else, the room for this sort of mischief only grows. Not just attention seekers like this one, but the exponentially more populous quiet fraudsters. “Retraction Watch” can only succeed as an entertaining game of whack-a-mole, but the infection is so much more severe than they can target. Psychology and Sociology’s problems only make the problem shiny, but the range of fields affected is so much broader…and “hard” sciences’ methodology and peer review coverage are just as corrupted. The worst bulk of the infection hopes we’re all distracted by the polarizing politics of this headline, so they who subsist in the system making this headline possible continue to go unnoticed. This isn’t a story about a nutty academic. It’s about the journal, and just how common its lapses are among all the others.

  19. Time to defund… Well, both everyone who actually has a race. Start with racist morons like moss

  20. He was my shrink thirty years ago. Surviving him, and it was touch and go for a while, was a major achievement.

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