Yale hosted a lecture on the ‘Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind’

Yesterday I wrote Katie Herzog’s piece (published on Bari Weiss’ Substack) about a group of doctors who meet regularly to discuss the ways in which woke ideology is seeping into medicine. Today, Herzog has a follow up about a lecture which Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center hosted in April. The talk featured a New York psychiatrist named Aruna Khilanani. Her public lecture was titled “The Psychopathic Problems of the White Mind.” Herzog’s piece contains the entire audio of the lecture but here are a few samples of the contents:

  • “This is the cost of talking to white people at all. The cost of your own life, as they suck you dry. There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil.”
  • “I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a fucking favor.”

After that first quote above she goes on to say that she “took action” five years ago by distancing herself from all of her white friends. After the second quote she explains that her assassination fantasy was really about her own feelings of futility.

But the post isn’t just a series of quotes from her lecture, Herzog also interviewed Khilanani and that’s when things got really weird. Khilanani volunteered that white people suffer greatly from feelings of guilt, shame and anxiety. At the root of this, she said, was colonialism. Asked by Herzog for a specific example of how colonialism manifests itself in the white mind, here was Khilanani’s answer:

It’s going to be hard for me to give you a one sentence soundbite on this but I would say, a high level of guilt. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Other than in white people not eating bread, an incredible level of shame. Feeling really exposed all the time. A lot of perfectionistic tendencies. Not letting themselves move forward. Experiencing themselves as passive a lot.

The thing about bread sort of stands out as odd. (White people don’t eat bread?) But as a reader you sort of skip past it and assume something got lost in translation. But then a few paragraphs later, the whole discussion becomes about white people not eating bread. Herzog’s questions are in bold:

Let’s talk about your practice. You’ve mentioned that you treat a lot of white people and you treat “whiteness.” What is the distinction between the two?

I wouldn’t say there is a distinction. For example, for white women, I do help a lot with passive-aggressiveness — not being able to use their voice, say things, feeling like there will be a negative consequence. White people have an intense level of guilt. I have never seen a level of guilt that I see among white people. I mean, white people don’t eat bread. Think about that. There have been wars all over the world over grains and bread and only here, white people are depriving themselves. Think about that shit. Everyone has this gluten allergy and you’re like, what the fuck is a gluten allergy? That’s a psychosomatic symptom. If you actually talk to a GI doctor, they’re going to say, “Well, there’s Celiac and there’s everything else” with a wink, and you know what the “everything else” is. It’s all the guilty gluten people.

Sure. There are lots of white people who don’t eat bread, although I am not one of them. I exclusively eat bread, and I’m also skeptical of some claims of gluten intolerance but my assumption has always been that they’re just buying into pseudoscientific B.S. and following health trends. You think it’s white guilt?

On an emotional level, absolutely. Like, if I raise an eyebrow at a white person around bread, the first response is like, “It’s real.” What does that mean? They mean it’s not psychological.

Right. It’s a medical issue, not a mental one.

I don’t deny that people may get symptoms, but how is it that all these people suddenly now, after all the violence has occurred, are not eating bread. It’s like the weirdest fucking thing.

But what does bread have to do with violence? What’s the connection there?

I think the bread is about guilt and needing to keep them in a state of deprivation and stay guilty.

It appears she’s talking about people with so-called gluten sensitivity. According to this post on Healthline, some studies suggest people who claim to have gluten sensitivity may not in fact have any physical reaction to gluten. Instead, it’s possible they are having a digestive reaction to something called FODMAPs, a type of carbohydrate:

One study put 37 people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and self-reported gluten sensitivity on a low-FODMAP diet before giving them isolated gluten — instead of a gluten-containing grain like wheat (31).

Isolated gluten had no dietary effect on the participants (21).

The study concluded that these individuals’ supposed gluten sensitivity was more likely a sensitivity to FODMAPs.

Not only is wheat high in this specific type of carbs, but FODMAPs also trigger IBS symptoms (323334).

Another study supported these findings. It revealed that people with self-reported gluten sensitivity didn’t react to gluten but to fructans, a category of FODMAPs in wheat (35).

Take that for what you will. I’m sure there’s a lot more to be said about the causes of so-called gluten sensitivity, but according to Dr. Khilanani it’s largely a psychological reaction driven by colonialism.

Khilanani is walking a narrow line throughout her talk and the interview between being generally very disdainful of white people as a group while also maintaining that she has loads of sympathy for those white people she treats in her practice. Maybe she’s telling the truth. She’s clearly not afraid of being controversial.

This reminds me a bit of Robin D’Angelo’s writings, where she talks about how often in her trainings, the response from white women in particular is being defensive and shutting down. She calls this “white fragility,” but I’m curious about the effect. Do you find this is effective? 

It depends on who my audience is. Do I think that that is effective for someone who is not in a place where they think there’s a problem with them? No, I don’t. Do I think it’s effective for people who are a little bit scared but also kind of curious? Yeah, I do. I know my audience and what my own limits are. I’m for the people who want to walk into the other room and see how we view you. That’s who my audience is. In a private practice setting, no, I don’t do that and that’s because it’s a f**king asshole thing to do. I need to be where they are at. When I’m speaking publicly, I need to invite someone into my room. This is how I talk with other people of color, this is how I talk with my black friends, this is how I talk with my Asian friends. This is how we talk about you. When I have patients, it’s the other way around. I need to be humble and be where they’re at. I need to sit with them and understand what they are going through. I feel like I’ve deepened a lot of my empathy for how much white people suffer from my white patients.

I do wonder if it’s really possible to square that circle between personal disdain (ghosting white friends) and professional empathy. Do her white patients know that, outside of paying for her time, she wouldn’t spare a minute for them because of their race? The real Dr. Khilanani is someone she admits her white patients would conclude was a “f***ing asshole.” Maybe they have a right to know that. I think if she were saying similar things about any other racial group her professional empathy toward members of that group would be questioned.

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