Research article in medical journal describes whiteness as “malignant, parasitic-like condition”

Jun 9, 2021

A research article published last month in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association called whiteness “a malignant, parasitic-like condition.” That description, along with other language in the article, has caused public anger, and the backlash against the author was evident on social media.

The article, titled On Having Whiteness, was written by Dr. Donald Moss, a white man who is a faculty member of both the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis.

In the article, Moss wrote that “‘white’ people have a particular susceptibility” to the “parasitic” condition, which he claims “renders its hosts’ appetites voracious, insatiable, and perverse.” He explained he believed whiteness establishes “entitled dominion” that enables the “host” to have “power without limit, force without restriction, violence without mercy,” and increases one’s drive to “terrorize.”

Moss has previously lectured on the subject of whiteness before On Having Whiteness was published in the bi-monthly, peer-reviewed Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association on May 27. In 2019, he delivered his theory describing whiteness as a parasitic condition as a plenary address for the South African Psychoanalytical Association, and he also lectured on it at the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and at the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies in New York.

Moss is the author of multiple psychology books, and a forthcoming collection he edited entitled Hating, Abhorring and Wishing to Destroy: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Contemporary Moment will be published this fall. Moss is also a founding member of a climate group known as the “Green Gang,” which describes itself as a collective focusing on “climate change and its denial.”

Psychologist Dr. Philip Pellegrino tweeted in response, “How do my colleagues consider this scholarship?”

Moss also wrote that he felt whiteness “easily infiltrates even groups founded on the protection of individuals, on democratic principles.” Moss also postulated treatment for the condition.

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