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“The Necessity and Limitations of Guiltiness and Empathy: A Bridge Too Short” with Karen Weisbard, PsyD (SPSI Scientific Session)

December 15, 2020 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm


“I have no creative use for guilt, yours or my own. Guilt is only another way of avoiding informed action, of buying time out of the pressing need to make clear choices, out of the approaching storm that can feed the earth as well as bend the trees. If I speak to you in anger, at least I have spoken to you: I have not put a gun to your head and shot you down in the street; I have not looked at your bleeding sister’s body and asked, ‘What did she do to deserve it?’” —Audre Lorde, 1981

“The Necessity and Limitations of Guiltiness and Empathy: A Bridge Too Short”

Presenter: Karen Weisbard, PsyD

This paper will discuss and unpack the concept of the perverse pact in Adrienne Harris’s paper, “The Perverse Pact: Racism and White Privilege”. We highly recommend that you read this paper in advance of the talk.

Weisbard will examine the conscious and unconscious forces that lead us to tenaciously hold on to our white privilege, and challenge the assumption that we are holding onto what we do not want to lose or give up, such as our identity, position, and possessions. She will suggest that we have already lost our humanity and intersubjectivity with this perspective. She will utilize Judith Butler’s concept of the radical equality of lives, and Jessica Benjamin’s concepts of “only one can live” to assert that we mistakenly value and enact the individual good over the collective good. In doing so, we impoverish ourselves and limit access for others to empowerment and equity. Finally, Weisbard will consider how we must change, not only our psychology, but our cultural and institutional policies to move toward antiracism and reparation. 

Karen Weisbard, PsyD is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Seattle. She graduated from the independent institute, The Northwest Center for Psychoanalysis (NCP), and served as Co-Director for two years. She was then co-founding faculty member of the learning and teaching community, Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Seattle (RPPS) for fourteen years. She is currently on the faculty of the Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (SPSI) and the Chinese American Psychoanalytic Alliance (CAPA).

Discussant: Margaret Crastnopol, PhD

Margaret (Peggy) Crastnopol, PhD is faculty, Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and supervisor of psychotherapy and faculty, W. A. White Institute, New York. She is on the editorial boards of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and Contemporary Psychoanalysis. She is also on the Executive Committee of the IARPP. Dr. Crastnopol was one of the founders and the Associate Director of the now-closed Northwest Center for Psychoanalysis at its inception.  She authored Micro-trauma:  A Psychoanalytic Understanding of Cumulative Psychic Injury, Routledge, 2015. She treats individuals and couples, in person and remotely, for those living in Seattle, WA and certain other locations.

Learning Objectives

As a result of attending this presentation, participants will:

  1. understand the necessity and limitations of guiltiness and empathy.
  2. increase understanding of the conscious and unconscious forces that maintain the perverse pact and limit the giving up of white privilege.
  3. increase understanding of what is entailed in becoming antiracist.
1.5 hours Category II CME. This presentation meets the requirements of WAC 246-924-240 (Definition of Category of Creditable CPE). “This program has been approved for 1.5 CEUs by the NASW Washington State Chapter.” Licensed Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Mental Health Counselors are eligible. Provider number is #1975-144.

If you have a psychoanalytic idea that you would like to present, contact Stan Case or Ron Levin. Presenting offers the benefit of having your idea discussed and further developed.

SPSI Scientific Sessions are free to attendees. RSVP on this page to attend.

Coming Attractions:


December 15, 2020
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:


(206) 328-5315
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