Fanon's Freudianism

Like Marcuse, Frantz Fanon was interested in the social effects of the psychological damage that we experience. Fanon takes Freud in a different direction from Marcuse. His version of Freud is meant to account for the dominating impulse of colonialism, and the resultant form of consciousness that comes into being in both the colonizer and the colonized.


Fanon recognizes that the black person exists in fundamental alienation, brought about by the fact that they are placed in the category of "other" by European society. No matter how much you know, or how much you fit in, you will still be marked as different. Even your successes will be marked - "that's a good job (for a black person)". It may not be said, but it will be in every judgment and every statement.

I am overdetermined from outside. I am not the slave of the "idea" that others have of me but of my appearance. I move slowly in the world, accustomed to aspiring no longer to appear. I proceed by crawling. Already the white looks, the only true looks, are dissecting me. I am fixed. Having prepared their microtome, they slice away objectively pieces of my reality. I am disclosed. I feel, I see, in those white looks, that it is not a new man who enters, but a new type of man, a new genus. Why - a Negro!

Fanon,
Black Skin White Masks, 116

Freud described a tension between civilization and the pleasure principle. Fanon argues that it is all the worse when domination and alienation takes a racial form. It affects the very ability of the person to operate in society.

An unusual clumsiness came upon me. The real world contested my place. In the white world the man of color encounters difficulties in the assimilation of his bodily schema. Consciousness of the body is a uniquely negating activity. It is a third-person consciousness...Then the bodily schema, attacked from several points, collapses and gives way to a racial epidermal schema. In the train, it is no longer a matter of knowledge of my body in the third person, but in a triple person. In the train, instead of one, I am left with two, three places...

Fanon,
Black Skin White Masks 110-12

The only response to this is revolution. It is not just a Marxian revolution, which overthrows an unjust system as people come to class consciousness. It is a kind of Freudian revolution, in which psychological health can only be reached by a strong and violent response to the civilization which produced such psychological violence in a people.