Dangerous Territory: Racist Moments in the Psychoanalytic Space

Racism and racist fantasies are inherent to being human yet have had profound traumatic

effects on an individual and collective scale. Lurking in the shadows, racist images, fantasies

and attitudes can suddenly enter the analytic space and disrupt the psychic functioning of both

the analyst and patient. Dr. Shah will present a personal experience with racism outside the office

with clinical material involving his struggle in the countertransference around racist material

brought up by his patient. He will discuss racial enactments, playfulness, racial humor, white

privilege, and political/cultural differences while focusing on countertransference reactions.


Dhwani Shah, MD, is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst currently practicing in Princeton, NJ.

He is a clinical associate faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of

Pennsylvania School of Medicine and a faculty member at the Psychoanalytic Center of

Philadelphia. The recipient of the University of Pennsylvania PENN Pearls Teaching Award for

excellence in clinical medical education, the University of Pennsylvania residency education

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Award, and the Laughlin Merit Award for professional achievement,

Dr. Shah has authored articles in the areas of neuroscience, mood disorders, and psychoanalysis.

His book The Analyst’s Torment: Unbearable Mental States in Countertransference is forthcoming

from Phoenix Publishing House in the Spring of 2021.