(First three-part part series on writers and writing)
Dr. Richard Koenigsberg is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met in the early 1990’s when I purchased one of his books and we struck up a correspondence.
This led to a professional friendship and eventually we created and participated in a number of panels for the International Society of Political Society conferences throughout the world. Lots of fun and a great way to see Europe.
Richard was born and raised in New Jersey and attended Wesleyan University where he studied under Norman O. Brown. He received his Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research and taught for a time at Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. His home and his company are now located in Elmhurst, Queens.
Dr. Koenigsberg is considered a world authority on the psychology of war, genocide and discrimination. His company is the Library of Social Science and with the assistance of his wife Mai Chen he provides the books for many social science conferences and also provides book reviews in his field of study.
His major works include Hitler’s Ideology, The Psychoanalysis of Racism, Revolution and Nationalism and Symbiosis and Separation: Towards a Psychology of Culture.
I asked him who is favorite author was and without hesitation, he said: “Sigmund Freud was by far the greatest genius of the 20th century.”
When asked what motivates him to write Dr. Koenigsberg said “I wanted to solve the problem of the Holocaust and the psychology to explain how such a thing could happen”.
And needless to say we still live in a world filled with racial discrimination, misunderstanding and scapegoating, perhaps now more than ever. And it matters very little that laws are passed to prevent this from happening. We see racial epithets being spewed every day.
We now witness our president suggesting that Mexicans are “criminals and rapists” that President Obama was not born here, that all Haitians have AIDS and that no Muslims should be allowed in the country.
When speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition remarked “I’m a negotiator, like you folks” thereby using a racial stereotype that if your Jewish you are a cunning businessperson.
As a sport psychologist, I tend to focus on sports stories and in the world of sports discrimination is wide spread. I recall years ago I wrote an editorial for Newsday where I remarked that during the 1998 home run race to reach Roger Maris’s magic number 60 homeruns in a season the press had highlighted Mark McGuire’s ability and ignored or disparaged Sammy Sosa’s efforts.
I write for Korean golf magazines and when a Korean woman is winning an event I need to watch her play on TV. But I quickly came to see that American TV coverage is strongly biased toward American players so if Se-Ri Pak, Inbee Park or worse yet Birdie Kim were leading you would almost never see her hit a shot.
All this is subtle unspoken discrimination. Perhaps the most flagrant racism was seen in the media’s treatment of Tiger Wood’s philandering where it’s widely known by anyone connected to the PGA tour that womanizing is widespread on tour yet they only focused on Wood’s cheating ways.
If that is not discrimination and the maintenance of racial stereotypes I don’t know what is.
The analytic word for racial discrimination whether the target is religious, racial or gender is projection. Projection is a psychological defense defined by Freud as the need to project one’s unconscious and unwanted trait or negative self-regard onto another.
It is considered a primitive defense employed by borderline or narcissistic people but in today’s increasingly regressed society these character traits and these defenses are widespread if not epidemic.
The damage caused by racism is twofold. First and most obviously the target is tainted and burdened with these projections and produce shame, depression and rage as a result.
The damage done to those that are projecting their devalued side into another are prevented from learning more about themselves and thereby remain stunted, deluded and filled with guilt. In my opinion projection and discrimination are the laziest possible ways for a person to elevate his or her self-esteem.
That is the unhappy state our nation is in at the moment and we can thank researchers and writers like Dr. Koenigsberg for having devoted their lives to shedding light on this dark subject and providing a beacon of hope amidst all the darkness and pain.
To find out more about Dr. Koenigsberg and to get a hold of some of his books you can go to libraryofsocialscience.com/koenigsberg.