Dear Abbie - The Non-Advice Podcast

Darkest Thoughts

October 15, 2021 Abigail L. Rosenthal Season 1 Episode 4
Dear Abbie - The Non-Advice Podcast
Darkest Thoughts
Show Notes Transcript

The mention of male clients’ “darkest thoughts & feelings” brought to mind an incident I hadn’t thought of in many years. . . 

What kind of hand have we been dealt as women today and how can we best play it? It's a large question that's always lurking in the background and since the answers aren't obvious, I find women's lives to immediately be suspenseful and interesting, don't you?

Wait a minute? Who am I? I am Abigail L. Rosenthal, Professor of Philosophy emerita of the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and while my advice has always been not to take my advice, I do write a weekly blog I call Dear-Abbie the Non-Advice Column.

And so, dear listener, I invite you to pull up a chair at this virtual cafe table no matter your gender, age, convictions, or style of life.

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.

Thanks so much dear listener, if this added value to your life, I'd be happy if you subscribed. You can find me at I've written a book called a Good Look at Evil. and if that's not too scary for you, you can buy it on Amazon. Another book is called Confessions of a Young Philosopher, and this is forthcoming soon, with Illustrations.