Jump to sitemap page |  Goto top navigation | Goto sidebar navigation | Skip to main content

January 6, 2021
Attack On United States Capitol

Position Statement

Released January 13, 2021.

The AAPCSW Board commissioned its Diversity and Social Action Committee to create the following statement:

On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, led an insurrection that resulted in violence, destruction, and death, an attack on the very institution that symbolizes our United States' democracy. Weaponized mobs crashed through the US Capitol doors, waving Confederate flags and other symbols of white-supremacy, vandalized offices, and terrorized our congressional leaders and their staff.

The American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work (AAPCSW) believes that Donald Trump's presidential powers must be immediately revoked. He has demonstrated an exploitation of such powers through the consistent promotion of racist groups and ideologies. His empowerment of those denigrating the disenfranchised “Other” is dangerous to the United States in that it undermines the integrity for which a democracy strives.

Twenty years ago, on the morning of September 11, 2001, our iconic United States Capitol was among the buildings targeted for destruction by foreign terrorists and was only saved by the courage, struggle, and ultimate sacrifice of Flight 93 passengers, who caused the plane's crash in Pennsylvania fields before it reached Washington, D.C. That the January 6th attack on the Capitol was perpetrated by domestic terrorists, an incitement of insurrection by the President of the United States and his enablers, gives a horrifying new meaning to this traumatizing experience.

As psychoanalytic social workers, we know about conscious and unconscious processes that can influence the destructive combination of large group phenomena, authoritarian leadership, and the contextual dynamics of systemic economic and racial injustice. And, as mental health practitioners, we know about loss and trauma. The Capitol attack is an enormous experience of loss and trauma for us all, but it is a particularly painful re-traumatization for those with histories of past and ongoing attacks on their freedom and dignity through racism, dictatorship, and genocide.

One of our African American members shares a powerful reflection on how Wednesday's events reverberate through our country's history of racism, white supremacy, and slavery: “I need time to think and work through my rage. Some of my thoughts: this speaks to the endurance of white supremacy, and how whiteness allows a level of protection that as a Black person I don't have and will never have. The horror of the coup is deeply unsettling, our impotent response is infuriating. But what is worse is how the whiteness and the seductive pull of the malignant narcissism of 45 allowed things to fester. We are traumatized, I am traumatized, and embedded in my psyche are the horrors of this past week, just as slavery is embedded in my psyche.”

Where do we go from here?

We begin by reaffirming our professional values and AAPCSW's opposition to discrimination against the “Other” in all forms. We will continue to infuse knowledge and clinical skills regarding the dynamics of intersectionality into our educational and advocacy programs and actions. Trusting our professional history of coping with individual and large-scale national adversity, we move forward with awareness of the enormity of the task before us and with renewed energy and hope.


  • Reference: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States. The 9/11 Commission Report. (2004). New York: W.W. Norton