psychiatrist khilanani

Dr. Aruna Khilanani said her comments were taken out of context. (Twitter photo/@aruna_khilanani)

An Indian American psychiatrist in New York has defended her comments about having a fantasy of shooting white people, claiming her words were taken out of context.

Dr. Aruna Khilanani shared her fantasy about shooting white people in the head during a lecture at Yale University, according to a New York Post report.

Khilanani, a Manhattan-based psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, told the New York Times on June 5 that she only meant to use “provocation as a tool for real engagement” while saying she dreamed of executing white people.

“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.”

Khilanani added that listeners and critics alike should not have taken her words literally — and could instead use them as a therapeutic tool, the Post report added.

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

Khilanani, who earned her New York state medical license in 2008, told the Times her lecture was well received at first. She called on Yale to release a video of the lecture in several TikTok videos while insisting to the newspaper that the college should not have been taken aback by its content, it said.

“They knew the topic, they knew the title, they knew the speaker,” Khilanani told the Times.

“Something is emotionally dangerous about opening up a conversation about race,” Khilanani wrote in an email to the daily publication. “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.”

Khilanani doesn’t regret her word choice, the report noted.

“My work is important,” her email continued. “And, I stand by it. We need to heal in this country.”

During the lecture, titled “The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind,” Khilanani, who is not affiliated with Yale, said she cut off most of her former white friends five years ago, adding there were “no good apples out there.” 

Several faculty members at the Ivy League institution later “expressed concern” about her talk while saying its tone and content were “antithetical” to its values, the Yale School of Medicine said in a statement, according to the report.

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