The Mark of Oppression: Explorations in the Personality of the American Negro

By William Goldfarb; Robert Gutman et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
The Middle and Upper Classes

1. MALE

W.S.

W.S. is a dark brown, 27-year-old, government clerk. He is meticulously dressed in clothing far more expensive than his white- collar status would warrant. His emotional tone is a constant sullenness. The expression on his face is fixed--a dead pan--and is emotionally flat. He rarely smiles and when he does, it is forced. He speaks in a monotone, but is verbose and pretentious, and over- intellectualizes everything. He is irritable, has little control, and is constantly wearing a chip on his shoulder. He is especially sensitive to aggression and fears being dominated. He feels that his chief problem of adaptation is his difficulty in sustaining interest in any activity for any length of time. He complains that three or four hobbies held his attention, only to vanish completely after a while. Though easily fascinated, he has no staying power or persistence. W.S. is a rolling stone.

He has just left his wife and child and currently lives alone in a small Harlem apartment. The separation has caused him to have great misgivings about himself. He feels he has made a failure of everything. He has achieved neither marital nor vocational success. He wonders who is to blame. He has habitually blamed everyone but himself, but now he is consumed by doubt. Could the fault really be his? Recently, he read a popular book on psychiatry and the subject matter caught his fancy. He comes to psychotherapy in the hope of finding his answer.

W.S. was born and raised in Harlem. He is the youngest of four

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