• prejudice;
  • psychological skin;
  • skin of the self;
  • cultural function;
  • containment function


There is growing interest in the psychodynamics of prejudice. An aspect of prejudice seldom addressed is its peculiar capacity to be injurious to victims. Through a process of self-analysis stimulated by chance reading of some of Freud's work, I will reflect on the vicissitudes of the development of the function of cultural boundary attributed to the psychological integument, or the “skin of the self”. Further, I will postulate the role of this “psychological skin” as the target for prejudicial assaults and the dynamics of the resulting psychological reactions. This “cultural function” will be contrasted with the well-established notion of the containment function of the psychological skin. Finally, I will link the discussed framework to possible socio-cultural implications. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.