64 Chapters
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2 - The Life Group

Foulkes, S.H. Karnac Books ePub


The Treatment of the Life Group


We are here concerned with problems as they arise in an interconnected, existing network in life. By contrast with the previous chapter, these people are very closely and intimately connected and their interactional network concerns the central area of their lives.

The family itself is the prototype of such a group, but I have stressed from the beginning that in psychological terms such a network includes persons who are not in the ordinary sense of the term family members.

Originally I used the term network and also nexus. Both these terms have since been used widely and with different meanings, so that I propose to use a special name for this concept of the intimate dynamic network with which we are concerned, and to call it complexus or for short plexus. (What is meant by that is that a relatively small number of people, who include the family, group themselves dynamically as the process of treatment proceeds, group themselves round the central person — the patient — especially in connection with his conflicts which are significant for the disturbance for which he has come to consult us.)

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5 - The Group-Analytic Situation

Foulkes, S.H. Karnac Books ePub


The Group-Analytic Situation


The group-analytic situation will be discussed under the following three headings:

1) Conditions Set These are as the patient finds them. He has no influence upon them and is not consulted. He should have been prepared or at least have been informed about them before joining the group.

Meeting with strangers

Particular form of group

Room and seating arrangements



Numbers of group members

Duration and frequency of sessions

2) Principles of Conduct Required This refers to the behaviour which is expected of the patient.





No outside contact

No “life” decisions during treatment.

3) Culture Promoted This covers the total atmosphere prevailing, the mores and behaviour, as introduced and maintained in operation by the conductor.

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12. Application of Group Concepts to the Treatment of the Individual in the Group

Foulkes, S.H. Karnac Books ePub


In a recent article on man’s place in nature, Sir Julian Huxley has stated that Charles Darwin’s Law of Natural Selection holds good and can now be studied scientifically, can be seen in action. This constitutes the biological inheritance of man. The particular feature of the species man is the evolution of improved brains. This has led to a development which, to quote Huxley, gave man ‘the capacity for conceptual (rational and imaginative) thought and for true speech, with words and symbols denoting things and ideas instead of merely sounds and gestures expressing feelings and emotional attitudes. This enabled him to do something radically new in the history of our planet—to transmit experience and awareness cumulatively, from generation to generation.’ By this capacity a second mechanism of heredity, cultural inheritance, has been introduced and this latter has made man the latest dominant group on earth. Man is a new and unique kind of organism. His evolution, Huxley says, is no longer purely biological but primarily cultural.

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15. Some basic concepts in group psychotherapy (1966)

Foulkes, S.H. Karnac Books ePub

This was given as one of the main papers at the Third International Congress of Group Psychotherapy in Milan, in July 1963. As on a number of other occasions, the subject of the paper had been proposed by the Congress Programme Committee.

Human living has always been in groups. These are always in a state of change, according to geographical, economical, historical, technical and cultural conditions. Correspondingly, the ideas that the human individual has of himself and his group, and of the relation between the two, are ever-changing also.

In recent times, in fact since the end of the Renaissance, and in a society that stresses individual property and competition, a configuration has arisen that has brought about the idea of the individual existing in isolation. The individual is then confronted with the community and the world as if they were outside of him. The philosophy of Descartes starts from this premise, and its strict subject/object juxtaposition is still responsible for many pseudo problems of our time. Yet one of the surest observations one can make is that the individual is pre-conditioned to the core by his community, even before he is born, and his personality and character are imprinted vitally by the group in which he is raised. This concerns his psychology even more than his genetic inheritance inasmuch as the former is developed in the interaction between him, objects and persons.

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3 - Diagnostics

Foulkes, S.H. Karnac Books ePub




When forming a group specifically for treatment, patients who have no connection in life with each other are called together. Neither should they develop such contacts during treatment, or, for that matter, later. In these groups we are thus operating outside the life situation, with people who are strangers and share only the therapeutic situation. As our model we take the group-analytic group in its various forms.

The patient either comes on his own initiative or is referred to us by another doctor, often a psychiatrist. We meet him first either individually or in a group. Presently we shall deal in more detail with both methods of the initial interview.

Preliminary Information

Before we see the patient, we can elucidate a number of facts by questionnaires. This saves time and allows us to concentrate on the most important living features and impressions during the first interview.

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