On the Pleasures of Owning Persons: The Hidden Face of American Slavery

  • Wednesday, March 09, 2016
  • 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
  • VPH 3046 (Third floor at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital) 1601 23rd Avenue South Nashville, TN 37212


  • If you are not a current member, there is a $10 fee for this event.
  • If you are a current member of the organization, there is no additional fee for this event.

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Abstract by Dr. Gay:

Many authors explore the worlds and minds of enslaved Americans; fewer explore the minds of those who owned slaves. In my forthcoming book I address this imbalance. I ask and answer this question: why did Americans own slaves? I propose two answers: ownership promised to make the them rich; it also afforded them immense, irreplaceable pleasures. For a few these were sexual pleasures; for the majority, male and female alike, they were pride, entitlement, luxury, superiority, and 'nobility' as persons who controlled other human beings like the lords and ladies of the great estates. By denying the ubiquity and commonality of these latter pleasures we make American slavey obscure. The Civil War becomes mysterious; as do the South's defense of the institution and 150 years of hostility to African Americans

Also see:

  *   Dr. Gay's recent article in the Huffington Post: "Slavery in Recent American Films: 12 Years a Slave" 
  *   Attached handout for his presentation: (see attachment) VG Handout- 1787- Original Contradiction.pdf

Volney Gay, PhD is Professor of Religious Studies, Psychiatry, and Anthropology at Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He was certified in Adult Psychoanalysis in 1990 by the American Psychoanalytic Association and was made a Training and Supervising Analyst in December 1994. His book, Freud on Sublimation, won the Heinz Hartmann Award from the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. Among his recent books are Joy and the Objects of Psychoanalysis, Progress in the Humanities, and Neuroscience and Religion. He twice won an Outstanding Teacher Award from the Vanderbilt Department of Psychiatry, the Outstanding Service Award from the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the Distinguished Psychoanalytic Educator Award, International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education. His new book is: On the Pleasures of Owning Persons: the Hidden Face of American Slavery. International Psychoanalytic Books, New York City, 2016.


6:30 – 7:00 Wine and hors d'oeuvres
7:00 – 8:30 Presentation and discussion

Parking is available in the garage on Children's Way
Take the elevator to the 3rd floor

*CEUs are offered without affiliation. They may or may not be recognized by some professional organizations and licensing agencies. For your certificate, after the event, email John Waide

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