The mention of male clients’ “darkest thoughts & feelings” brought to mind an incident I hadn’t thought of in many years. A student came to see me during office hours. He was young, black and male, and wanted to share a dark fantasy that haunted him. I don’t recall whether he read me a description or just spoke it, but it involved a white girl he was murdering. There was a knife, some sex sadism, and — as the scene dragged on — it was acutely uncomfortable for me to sit quietly and listen, but I was careful not to show any shock.
My sincere response was this: what you are imagining is entirely normal. White girls have been held up for you as the most sexually desirable and as forbidden — unfairly. In those circumstances, to picture yourself taking such obvious revenge is as natural as wanting to step on the grass where there’s a sign prohibiting it. It does not mean there is anything wrong with you!
My student told me that this was life changing for him. He had been thinking of taking refuge in same-sex relations, not because he preferred them, but rather to keep himself from committing criminal acts. Now he felt released to be himself.
Years later, I ran into him on the north side of 89th Street, between Madison & Park, right by the little “country church” that’s set back from the street, nestled in a green alcove between the tall buildings. He was dressed in a well-cut, three-piece suit. I think he said he was a Manhattan lawyer (or occupied some such place on the map of comfortable life). It’s my recollection that he said he was married. With a warm and still-boyish sincerity, he thanked me again.