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Psychoanalysis is helping people understand race, class and culture

Lenita Newberg (left) and Neil Altman (right) talk about  the therapeutic practice of psychoanalysis.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio
Lenita Newberg (left) and Neil Altman (right) talk about the therapeutic practice of psychoanalysis.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Neil Altman about understanding race, social class and culture through a psychoanalytic lens. Also joining the discussion was Lenita Newberg, director of the Advanced Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Program at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.

Altman is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and faculty member at William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry. His practice aims to help people with serious psychological disorders understand and change complex emotional and relationship problems to alleviate distress.

He said having a psychoanalytical point of view is something that can operate on a group level. When groups of people feel they are not heard or recognized, a shared experience is created which contributes to group formations around political movements.

“The important thing at the moment is that St. Louis is at the epicenter of a lot of the tension around racial and cultural social class categories right now,” Altman said. “A psychoanalytic institute has to be able to have something to say about that if it wants to be relevant in today’s world.”

Psychoanalysts recognize when people are feeling unheard and try to respond to that. He said psychoanalysis is a constant process of consciousness raising; having to deal with what makes people feel guilty and ashamed and how people are socialized in certain attitudes.

The St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute is an educational institute that trains people in psychotherapy and analysis.

“We have a growing number of students that are mental health professionals … trying to do the work of helping people feel heard,” Newberg said.

Listen below for the full discussion with Altman and Newberg:


St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.