Mental Health Organisations as Moral Agents: Professional Responsibility in a Settler-Colonial Context

Martin Kemp


This article is written by a white psychotherapist about white institutions, and their relationship to a contemporary colonial process that, while inflected by many unique features, nevertheless starkly reproduces the central characteristics of an apartheid society, with white-black relations as oppressive and destructive as this suggests. It takes as its starting point the post-Black Lives Matter ‘moment’ where, joining the worldwide mobilisation that followed the murder of George Floyd, Western institutions are seeking to address the ways in which racism has been reproduced in their internal practices. Such institutions, the paper argues, have a responsibility to include in their reflections the constructive exercise of their public influence both in general terms and particularly in regard to the subjugation of the Palestinian people. The integration of Israeli institutions into the international mental health community, and the specific request made by Palestinian civil society that external associations do not normalise their oppression, combine to make this a troubling but pressing issue for the profession.


psychoanalysis, psychology, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, conflict

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