NYC psychiatrist stands by her work after controversial Yale panel

‘They’re making me the problem’: NYC psychiatrist who said she fantasized about shooting white people during talk at Yale panel said she was taken ‘out of context and stands by her work’ after backlash over ‘deeply worrisome’ views

  • Dr Aruna Khilanani has said she does not regret the word choice of her lecture
  • She gave a controversial virtual talk to Yale University staff and students in April
  • In it, she said she fantasized about ‘unloading a revolver’ into white people
  • She has faced criticism from university staff and others over her comments
  • On Saturday, she said her words had been taken out of context and that making the conversation about her was a way of ‘controlling the narrative’ around race

A New York-based psychiatrist who told a Yale University panel discussion that she had fantasies of shooting white people has defended her comments. 

Dr Aruna Khilanani, who runs her own practice in Manhattan, told the New York Times that she had been aiming to use ‘provocation as a tool for real engagement’ when she spoke of ‘unloading a revolver into the head of any white person’ who got in her way.

In an email to the paper on Saturday, she said that her words had been taken out of context in an attempt to ‘control the narrative’ around race. 

Her comments came after she faced a massive backlash over the weekend from Yale University staff and others for the views expressed in her talk.

‘Too much of the discourse on race is a dry, bland regurgitation of new vocabulary words with no work in the unconscious,’ Khilanani reportedly wrote in an email to the Times.

‘And, if you want to hit the unconscious, you will have to feel real negative feelings.’ 

‘My speaking metaphorically about my own anger was a method for people to reflect on negative feelings. To normalize negative feelings. Because if you don’t, it will turn into a violent action.’

Khilanani, who said she is of Indian descent, went on to tell the Times that she did not regret her word choice. 

A New York-based psychiatrist who told a Yale University panel discussion that she had fantasies of shooting white people has defended her comments. Dr Aruna Khilanani (pictured), who runs her own practice in Manhattan, told the New York Times that she had been aiming to use ‘provocation as a tool for real engagement’ when she spoke of ‘unloading a revolver into the head of any white person’ who got in her way 

‘Something is emotionally dangerous about opening up a conversation about race.

‘No one wants to look at their actions or face their own negative feelings about what they are doing. The best way to control the narrative is to focus on me, and make me the problem, which is what I stated occurs in the dynamic of racism.’ 

‘My work is important,’ she told the paper. ‘And, I stand by it. We need to heal in this country.’

Khilanani gave her talk virtually to medical students and faculty back in April after being invited by Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center.

But it drew more attention after audio of the 50-minute lecture was published on journalist Bari Weiss’ Substack blog on Friday.

‘The racism expressed by Dr. Aruna Khilanani … is deeply worrisome & counter-productive,’ Yale professor Nicholas A. Christakis tweeted. ‘Of course, as an invitee, she is free to speak on campus. But her views must be soundly rejected.’ 

‘Most human beings have disturbing fantasies, and this can be a proper topic for discussion,’ he added ‘People’s actions are more important than their thoughts or words.’

But Christakis slammed the ‘pejorative generalizations’ used by Khilanani as ‘unfounded’ and troubling.

‘It’s her line of argument, leaving aside her sharing of her fantasies, that is problematic and racist,’ Christakis said. 

Khilanani’s practice has been bombarded by one-star reviews over the weekend.

On Healthgrade.com alone she received 86 one-star ratings as of Saturday, bringing her overall rating to 1.2 out of five.

The one star ratings included one that read: ‘If you are white, she might shoot you’ that 54 people upvoted as helpful.  

Another review quoted the Psychiatrist lecture and commented: ‘Aruna Khilanani should be barred from any professional setting.’

Someone else commented: ‘she is a divider’ while another person commented ‘Can I book an appt? Will you fantasize about killing me and doing the world a favor.’

In the talk, titled The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind, Khilanani discussed the exhaustion people of color can feel when required to explain racism to white people, who then question or disbelieve their experiences.

‘This is the cost of talking to white people at all — the cost of your own life, as they suck you dry,’ she said, adding: ‘There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil.’

Khilanani went on to say that she had cut ties with ‘most of my white friends’. 

‘I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a f**king favor,’ Khilanani said during the talk. 

She said that white people feel they are being bullied when people of color bring up race and described it as a ‘psychological predicament’. 

‘They feel that we should be thanking them for all that they have done for us. They are confused, and so are we. We keep forgetting that directly talking about race is a waste of our breath,’ she said. 

‘We are asking a demented, violent predator who thinks that they are a saint or a superhero, to accept responsibility. It ain’t gonna happen. They have five holes in their brain. It’s like banging your head against a brick wall. It’s just like sort of not a good idea.’  

On Saturday, she told the Times that her lecture had initially received positive reviews from students. 

Last week, she expressed anger with a decision by Yale to restrict access to the footage of the event.

Khilanani says her talk was only released internally after facing calls from some to do so.

In the virtual talk, titled The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind, Khilanani discussed the exhaustion people of color can feel when required to explain racism to white people, who then question or disbelieve their experiences but went on to say that white people ‘made her blood boil’ and that she had cut ties with ‘most of my white friends’. Pictured: Yale University’s School of Medicine

She is now arguing that Yale is trying to suppress her by not releasing the footage of her talk publicly.

The doctor has posted a series of TikToks in the last week claiming the school hasn’t included the name of the talk or that she delivered it.

A caption on one of her TikTok’s reads: ‘My talk at Yale Child Study Center was just released internally. Unnamed and untitled like the privilege it protects.’

In a statement, Yale’s School of Medicine said it had limited access to the video of Khilanani’s expletive-filled lecture to those who were invited to the talk and had added a disclaimer to the footage to emphasize that it did not reflect the views of the university.

‘This video contains profanity and imagery of violence,’ the disclaimer states. ‘Yale School of Medicine expects the members of our community to speak respectfully to one another and to avoid the use of profanity as a matter of professionalism and acknowledgment of our common humanity. Yale School of Medicine does not condone imagery of violence or racism against any group.’   

The doctor has posted a series of TikToks in the last week claiming the school hasn’t included the name of the talk or that she delivered it

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