Abstract

The popularization of psychoanalysis after World War II provided African American writers such as Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison with a new paradigm for exploring the effects of racial discrimination on the formation of black identity. Both were instrumental in helping the psychiatrist Fredric Wertham establish the Lafargue Clinic in 1946, the first community outpatient "mental hygiene" clinic in Harlem. I argue that the Lafargue Clinic's improvisations on psychoanalysis can best be understood as a type of blues epistemology, strategically revising and inverting traditional tropes. My approach uncovers the clinic's innovative use of patient narratives as an essential therapeutic strategy to help African American clients reframe their encounters with racial discrimination as symptomatic of a diseased democracy.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 371-395
Launched on MUSE
2013-06-26
Open Access
No
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