- Dr. Aruna Khilanani, a New York City-based forensic psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, made the comment while speaking at Yale’s weekly forum for faculty and staff about mental health.
An Indian American psychiatrist said in a lecture at Yale University’s School of Medicine that she had fantasies of shooting white people. Dr. Aruna Khilanani, who has a private practice in New York, said she often thought about “putting a revolver in the head of any white person who came my way.” An audio recording of Khilanani’s 50-minute lecture was posted on June 4 on the Substack online platform by former New York Times opinion writer and editor Bari Weiss. The audio was accompanied by an interview of Khilani by writer and podcaster Katie Herzog.
The New York Times noted that Weiss released the recording of Khilanani’s remarks “at a time when many universities are debating teaching about race and racism and the limits of free speech.”
Khilanani, a forensic psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, was speaking at a lecture titled, “The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind,” delivered on April 6 as part of Yale’s Child Learning Center’s Grand Rounds, a weekly forum for faculty and staff members and others affiliated with Yale to learn about various aspects of mental health. Khilnani is not affiliated with Yale, the university said in a statement released later.
Khilanani began her remarks by telling the audience that she was “going to say a lot of things, and it will probably provoke a lot of reactions, and I want you to see them in yourself.” She said racially motivated things like she would walk away from shooting “with a jump in my steps” and that white people “boil my blood” and “off their minds and have been for a long time.”
She continued: “Nothing annoys me more than a white person telling me not to get angry, because they haven’t seen real anger yet,” she said — before talking about how she “systematically” dated most of her former white friends about five years ago. “I stopped watching the news,” Khilnani said. “Once I started, I couldn’t stop,” she added.
“It was also a public service,” she said. “Any white person who came my way had the fantasy of taking a revolver in the head, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked relatively innocently with the boom in my step. Like I did the world a favor to the king.”
Later in the conversation, Khilnani said conversations with white people about racial issues was “useless because they are at the wrong level of conversation. “White people are out of their minds, and they have been for a long time… White people think we are bullying them when we bring up races,” she said. “They feel we should thank them for all they have done for us. They are confused, and so are we,” she continued. “We keep forgetting that talking directly about race is a waste of our breath,” Khilnani continued. “We’re asking a paranoid, violent hunter who thinks they’re a saint or a superhero to accept responsibility. It’s not going to happen. He has five holes in his brain. It’s like banging his head against a brick wall.”
The university had to later restrict online access to Khilanani’s racist and expletive-filled talk, as per a New York Times report. The school also added a disclaimer to the video to “emphasize that the ideas expressed by the speaker conflict with the core values of Yale School of Medicine.”
The Yale School of Medicine issued a statement noting that several faculty members had expressed concern about Dr. Khilanani’s remarks. “Based on these concerns, School of Medicine leaders, including Dean [Nancy J.] Brown and Deputy Dean [Larin] Latimore, in consultation with the Chair of the Child Study Center, reviewed a recording of the talk and found the tone and content antithetical to the values of the school,” read the statement.
“Because Grand Rounds are typically posted online after the event and in consideration of Yale’s commitment to the right of free expression, school leaders further reviewed the Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at Yale. Based on those concerns, leaders at the School of Medicine, in consultation with the chairwoman of the Child Study Center, reviewed a recording of the talk and “found the tone and content antithetical to the values of the school,” the statement said. “In deciding whether to post the video, we weighed our grave concern about the extreme hostility, imagery of violence, and profanity expressed by the speaker against our commitment to freedom of expression.”
Khilnani sent an email sent to The New York Times, calling on Yale to release the video, and she said in a phone interview that Yale should not have been surprised because “they knew the topic, they knew the title, they knew the speaker.”Khilanani told The New York Times in an email that words had been taken out of context to “control the narrative,” and that her lecture had “used provocation as a tool for real engagement.”
She added: “Too much of the discourse on race is a dry, bland regurgitation of new vocabulary words with no work in the unconscious,” she said. “And, if you want to hit the unconscious, you will have to feel real negative feelings.” She continued: “My speaking metaphorically about my own anger was a method for people to reflect on negative feelings. To normalize negative feelings. Because if you don’t, it will turn into a violent action.” She mentioned to the Times that “her lecture had initially been well received.” and was “praised by attendees who commented on the online feed.”
Not much is known about Khilnani’s family or her growing up years. In one of her videos on TikTok, she talks about being a brown girl growing up in the midwest. In a comment to one of Khilnani’s posts on social media, a user noted that both Khilnani’s parents are doctors and that she studied in private schools. As per her website, she received her New York State medical license in 2008. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Michigan; Master of Arts in Humanities from University of Chicago; and her M.D. from University of Illinois at Chicago. She has received training at prestigious locations like the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research; New York University Langone Medical Center; and New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell. She has previously taught at Cornell, Columbia and New York University.
On healthgrade.com, Khilnani has received 86 one-star ratings, bringing her overall rating to 1.2 out of five. One of the comments by a user who gave a 1 Star rating says: “If you are white, she might shoot you.” Another person commented: “I personally don’t feel safe around her. She is an anti-Semite.” Another review quoted her Yale lecture and commented: “Aruna Khilanani should be barred from any professional setting.”
Recently, Khilnani has posted several videos on TikTok and Facebook, addressing what she called Yale’s “suppression of my talk on race.”
“People have been asking about my work, and I have said that there’s a video coming out from the Yale child study center where I gave a talk that was public, and for which they said a video would be made public too,” she says in the first video she posted. “I have been waiting for this video, and other colleagues I know have also been waiting for this video, and I just found out the video was put out internally, and I was not told about it. It’s just my talk, just my content and just my work of the past 10 years. But you know what’s missing from the talk? The name of my title – “The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind.”
In the second video, she talks about the disclaimer Yale added to her video, calling it violent and profane.
In one of the videos she says: “This a personal war. I’ve been training for this moment for years. Racism is psychological warfare in EVERY interaction of violence that is denied and turned on us. I am dropping my series, “ The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind” for a reason: I don’t want what has happened to me to happen to anyone else. So, we are training in America, and I ain’t playin.”
In another video on Facebook, she says: “In Hindu culture, #Mahishasura is a demon that changes forms. Anytime you killed Mahishasura, it stays immortal by taking a new shape and form. Mahishasura can only be destroyed, when you see it for what it is. It can no longer take another form. We have unfinished business, whities. I will show you who you are. Racism is my Mahishasura. What’s yours? Tag a friend and lemme know.”
Her Instagram page has similar videos on race and violence. “The biggest racists are Liberals and white Feminists,” she says in a video posted on April 18. In another, posted on April 26, titled “CALL TO ARMS! RACIAL MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS,” she says: “We are in a racial mental health crisis that we need to survive. I am not sure what’s going on in the organized psych world. But, I am calling it and we need to address it.”
Many took Twitter to slam Khillianni’s views. Nicholas A. Christakis, Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale tweeted: “The racism expressed by Dr. Aruna Khilanani in a Grand Rounds at Yale, just released by @bariweiss & @kittypurrzog, is deeply worrisome & counter-productive. Of course, as an invitee, she is free to speak on campus. But her views must be soundly rejected.”
A Twitter user named Jay wrote: “Dr. Aruna Khilanani needs to be stripped of her licenses. This is absolutely terrifying that she is overseeing people’s mental health while having these thoughts about another human being let alone a whole group of people. Highly suggest you read her interview to see what I mean.”
Another user tweeted: “#AintShePurty? Dr. Aruna Khilanani, a New York City-based psychiatrist, told an audience at the Yale School of Medicine in April that she had fantasies of “unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way.” She spewed race-hating virtual remarks….”
A user named Patriotxtra asked in a tweet: “Where are these people from? What violent cultures are America letting in? Where is law enforcement? Valid questions.”