Written by a clinical and forensic psychologist, Marse: A Psychological Portrait of the Southern Slave Masterand His Legacy of White Supremacy focuses on the white men who composed the southern planter class. The book is a psychological autopsy of the mind and slaveholding behavior that helps explain the enduring roots of white supremacy and the hidden wound of racist slavery that continues to affect all Americans today.
Marse details and illuminates examples of the psychological mechanisms by which southern slave masters justified owning another human being as property and how they formed a society in which it was morally acceptable. Kirkpatrick uses forensic psychology to analyze the personality formation, defense mechanisms, and psychopathologies of slave masters. Their delusional beliefs and assumptions about black Africans extended to a forceful cohort of white slaveholding women, and they twisted Christianity to promote slavery as a positive good. He examines the masters’ stress and fears, and how they developed psychologically fatal, slavery-specific defense mechanisms to cope. Through sources such as diaries, letters, autobiographies, and sermons, Marse describes the ways in which slaveholders created a delusional worldview that sanctioned cruel instruments of punishment, and the laws and social policies of domination used to rob Blacks of their human rights. In light of the seismic shift in race relations our nation is experiencing right now, this book is timely because it will advance our understanding of the South’s self-defeating romance with racist slavery and its latent and chronic effects. The parallels between the psychology of antebellum slaveholding and today’s racism are palpable.
H. D. Kirtpatrick
Is a Forensic psychologist and Historian He is currently a research associate in the American Studies Department at UNC-Charlotte.
He teaches an undergraduate course entitled, “Up Close and Personal” The History of Slavery in Mecklenburg County. 7 years ago he discovered that his great-great grandfather owned Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick’s ( a high school acquaintance and first black high school footballer in NC b ) great-great-great grandfather as a slave in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Since 2015, he has lectured with Jimmie Lee about our ancestral story approximately thirty times.