White Institute Calendar

LGBTQ Study Group: Eugenio A. Duarte, Ph.D.

Date: 3 2021 20:30

Smooth Criminals:


Mystified Desires and


Their Pursuits in Leaving Neverland


Eugenio A. Duarte, Ph.D.



Wed. February 3, 2021


8:30 - 10:00 pm (EST)



*via Zoom



Register Here




Leaving Neverland is a two-part, four-hour-long documentary detailing Michael Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse of two young boys in the 1990s, as told by his now-adult accusers and their families. In response to conventional understandings of early sexual trauma which focus on the abuser-victim dyad, I examine the sexual abuse described in the film as a tragedy of an interpersonal field, one in which individuals continually and mutually mystified one another about what was wanted, who wanted it, and at whose expense. I also demonstrate the central role of mystification (Laing, 1985; Levenson, 1989) in the prelude to, onset, and chronicity of the abuse. In so doing, I offer an expanded conception of mystification, beyond a singular act of obfuscation performed by one person on another, but as an emergent quality of an interpersonal field. Particular attention is paid to how Michael as well as the parents used mystification to handicap the boys’ conscious access to desire, thus rendering them unable to see the sexual abuse being done to them. Such a conception allows for a more nuanced and contextualized understanding of how child sexual abuse begins, continues, and remains secret for so long.



Though not required, it is strongly suggested that attendees view Leaving Neverland in advance of this presentation. It can be found on the streaming services HBO and HBO Max: https://www.hbomax.com/series/urn:hbo:series:GX2TTvQGJ6qQ8ggEAAADj.



Presenter bio:  

Eugenio A. Duarte, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and interpersonal/relational psychoanalyst in private practice in Miami, Florida. He specializes in issues of gender and sexuality as well as eating and body image problems, and he sees individuals as well as couples. He completed his psychoanalytic training at William Alanson White Institute, where he is faculty and former chair of the LGBTQ Study Group. He is also faculty, and chair of the Program Committee, at the Florida Psychoanalytic Center in Miami. He is contributing author to the volume Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis: Defining Terms and Building Bridges (Routledge, 2017) and host of the podcast New Books in Psychology.


For inquiries regarding the LGBTQ Study Group please contact Esin Egit, Ph.D. (Chair): e.egit@wawhite.org