Race Prejudice and Discrimination: Readings in Intergroup Relations in the United States

By Arnold M. Rose | Go to book overview

the cognitive, processes. But it tends to become more insignificant as increased communication brings interests and standards in common, and as similar systems of education and equal access to knowledge bring about a greater mental and social parity between groups, and remove the grounds for "invidious distinction." It is, indeed, probable that a position will be reached on the race question similar to the condition now reached among the specialized occupations, particularly among the scientific callings, and also in business, where the individual's ability to get results gives him an interest and a status independent of, and, in point of fact, quite overshadowing, the superficial marks of personality.


46.Psychodynamic Factors in Racial Relations *

Helen V. McLean

[An important formulation of the theory of race prejudice from the psychiatric standpoint is that by a practising psychiatrist, Dr. Helen V. McLean.]

The word dilemma is being used frequently these days in regard to racial problems. Gunnar Myrdal most aptly called his study of the Negro-white problem An American Dilemma.1To the psychiatrist a dilemma is nothing new or unique. The psychological problem of every patient who consults him represents a dilemma. When the word is used regarding an individual situation, it is more frequently called a conflict. In the psychoanalytic sense conflict means a pull between two opposing desires or feelings; one desire is a conscious feeling, the opposing is preconscious or unconscious. One or both motivating forces may be unacceptable to some part of the total personality. Torn by such conflicting feelings the individual is said to be on the horns of a dilemma.

The racial question represents a dilemma for both white men and Negroes. For each group many conflictful conscious and unconscious feelings war with each other. Between the two groups there is a complex psychological relationship, in which many of

____________________
*
From The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 244( March, 1946), 159-66.Copyright 1946 by The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Reprinted by permission of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
1
Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma, New York: Harper Bros., 1944.

-466-

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