Oprah, the self-anointed Queen of Everything Black, is back. This time we get a two-fer: She not only displays her personal pathologies, she also re-establishes her toxic-tribal bona fides among black people.
It’s a wicked mix: Damaging to herself and others.
During a recent BBC interview, Oprah pronounced that anyone who did not like President Obama was a racist. She also said “old” whites will have to die to end racism. To cap this pre-adolescent interview-rant, she adds that blacks are abused and disrespected the world over.
If these comments were just Oprah working through her “issues” again in a public place, then her remarks could be written off as typical comments from a racist. But Oprah is more than that, of course.
Oprah’s world view has no place for the decades of legal discrimination against non-blacks -- affirmative action – that has victimized millions of people who have been passed over for promotions, or not even hired due to legal preferences for women and non-white minorities.
For decades black people have been given cuts-in-line in hiring and school admissions over non-black candidates who were more qualified.
We can discuss whether this is good or bad. Not whether it is true or false.
Oprah's comments are just the latest in a long line of similar remarks from other celebrities that cultivate racial resentment: Racism is everywhere. Racism is permanent. You don’t have a chance if you are black. That is the mantra.
Then rap mogul Kanye West joined in, saying President Obama did not have the Jewish connections to become a successful president. The fantasies of persecution come from all quarters of the black chronic grievance industry, it seems.
This kind of institutional resentment represents the most profoundly powerful, false, and damaging ideas in the country today. Resentment is the most destructive emotion anyone can harbor. In my practice as a prison and private practice clinical psychologist, I have seen up close and personal the damage it does, and it is one of the top reasons people come for therapy.
Resentment stalls growth in anyone who is in bondage to it. Most people who sustain resentments reject personal responsibility for most all of their life choices and decisions. They believe they are given a pass on that pro-social, adult obligation.
Oprah did a great job in spreading – and reflecting – this resentment.
What can be the possible cause for someone with Oprah’s success to do such a thing? In a label: Toxic Shame. People who have suffered traumatic assaults as she did as a child – as we learn in her incessant autobiographies -- being raped when she was age 9, among other gross psychological insults she endured, develop a sense of toxic shame that can dominate subconscious thinking for a lifetime.
At that early age, they absorb a pathological guilt for what happened to them, as if it was their fault. To a shamed person, their life is a mistake, regardless of the level of success, and they’re both fearful and angry about it.
Shamed people often develop eating disorders, most become very narcissistic, their religious preference is most often the narcissist-friendly “New Age” type, and they are prone to tantrums or rages.
They have a horrible time trying to establish a close and intimate personal relationship, and if they do, they become controlling, quarrelsome, and often, combative. In short, they don’t fall in love; they fall in sick. They’ll do most anything to keep from getting too close to someone, including sabotaging any positive bonding in the relationship. Many choose potential partners that are all but impossible to get close to. Others eventually choose to never get close to anyone – ever again.
When they explain what is tormenting them, real or imagined, at a particular moment they turn to pre-adolescent, “black and white” reasoning, the type that psychologists call, “splitting.” There are no exceptions in the minds of splitters, just like pre-adolescents. To them there are only absolutes. This compels them to often make blanket indictments against others even if there is no basis in fact.
The psychological defense of projection is also a common trait among the shamed population where someone blames others for what the blamer is guilty of. Oprah demonstrates this by saying blacks are abused the world over.
In Oprah’s world view, there is no room for personal responsibility for any of the pathologies that dominate black life in America today. Whether we are talking about crime, poverty, drug addiction, alcoholism, illegitimacy, HIV, irresponsible birthing, education, income; all these differences between blacks and non-blacks have one reason: White racism.
Then there are the America-wide assaults of blacks against non-blacks, especially against the most vulnerable non-black people such as the elderly and women. Someone should send her a copy of Colin Flaherty’s book, White Girl Bleed a Lot.
Her last psychological defense was her pronouncement that “old” whites must die to end racism. That’s called displacement, and with that primal declaration, she again regressed to pre-adolescence. The sadistic predator that brutalized her when she was a child just may be the real candidate for her wish of death on another. As a psychologist, I’d make serious book on it.
Oprah’s therapist or counselor, if she has one, might consider having her call when she feels the need to lash out at her pathology-based and distorted beliefs about non-blacks. Overall, she would do well for herself by canceling any future interviews regarding race and who should live and who should die.
This is not a prescription for public policy and debate. This is a prescription for serious and intensive therapy for someone who is in a lot more personal trouble that she sees so easily in others.
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