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Fairbanks Lecture: Elizabeth Kita

October 27 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

The Sue Fairbanks Lecture in Psychoanalytic Knowledge presents

“Everyone hates me now, but where were they when I needed them?”: A psychoanalytic look at trauma, violence, and mass incarceration.

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In the United States, the problem of crime has been framed as the problem of the criminal, but as social workers we know that crime and violence are the consequences of the complex interaction between persons and their environments, as well as the choices of our collective society as to who and how to punish. Mass incarceration has been thoroughly explored as a racial, social and economic project. Viewed through a psychoanalytic lens, another dimension becomes visible:  the ways in which the dehumanization and criminalization of certain members of society forces them to function as repositories for the unbearable aspects of our otherwise shared humanity. In this presentation, the relationship between trauma, violence and mass incarceration will be explored from a psychoanalytic perspective. Using the concept of projective identification, we can consider the ways in which abandoning people to traumatogenic conditions and criminalizing their responses to them enables the logic of mass incarceration by taking a problem in the environment — one that implicates the collective — and relocating it to inside the individual — a person to be punished. The implications for social work practice, policy and for social justice will also be discussed.

Elizabeth Kita received her PhD in clinical social work from Smith College’s School of Social Work in 2012, after many years of clinical practice in a variety of settings: with children and families in their homes, a community outpatient clinic, a state prison, the department of parole, a psychodynamic psychotherapy clinic, and in private practice. She discovered psychodynamic theory along the way, and found it to be the most humanizing lens through which to understand people and their problems. In addition to practicing as a clinical social worker, Kita is a lecturer at UC Berkeley, and provides clinical supervision to licensed and unlicensed clinicians. She also coordinates a peer-driven support program for formerly incarcerated “lifers.”


October 27
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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School of Social Work, Utopia Theatre
1925 San Jacinto Blvd.
Austin, TX United States