The Oppressor’s Pathology

in Theoria
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In Black Skin, White Masks Frantz Fanon discusses the neurotic condition that typifies the oppressed black subject, their 'psychoexistential complex'. He argues that this neurotic condition is closely related to another, the 'psychoexistential complex' of the white oppressor. Both of these complexes sustain and are sustained by social and economic injustice. But Fanon does not delve in detail into the nature of this second neurosis, for he was primarily interested in discussing this neurosis only insofar as it helps him understand the first. My aim in this paper is to provide an account of the white neurosis, and why it should be understood literally as a neurotic condition. Typical, white oppressors, not solely those who are militantly committed to oppressing others, are alienated from the world and from themselves, making their behaviour seem like that of soulless dolls, to use J.M. Coetzee's image from Age of Iron.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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