21 Chapters
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Chapter Three - Leader, Society, Sacrifice

Karnac Books ePub

Hanni Biran

The point of departure for this chapter is the myth of Oedipus, as it is portrayed in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. The established notions regarding this myth were overturned by Bion (1967, p. 86), who marginalised the theme of incest and focused on the desire to know, investigate, and reveal the truth. Following Bion, I attempt to describe different kinds of knowing, offering my conjectures regarding the type of knowing that a leader must practise in order to be able to handle a traumatic social situation, which demands endless sacrifice. “Knowing” and “knowledge” have multiple unconscious meanings, especially associated with eating from the tree of knowledge.

I also draw on some of the work of Foulkes (1984) regarding the concept of the “foundation matrix”, which refers to relationships, values and norms, and patterns of communication. The foundation matrix establishes the conditions for the development of particular styles of leadership (Hopper, 2003). Group analysis helps us to find several pathways into unconscious processes within groups and persons. In the analytic group, members tend to re-enact their Oedipal drama in the here and now. Through the dynamic matrix of the group, the members come face to face with what has been their manner of being within their respective families and, subsequently, other groups throughout their lives. They discover how they were born into each family and what kind of welcome they received. The analytic group provides a space wherein one can experience the tension between siblings and members of the same and opposite sexes, and, through relationships with the group conductor, their previous relationships with their parents. In other words, the group facilitates the recreation of the Oedipal drama and how it has been played out throughout their lives.

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Chapter Six - The Black Hole in the Social Unconscious: A Collective Defence Against Shared Fears of Annihilation

Karnac Books ePub

Yael Doron

In this chapter, I discuss the concept of the social unconscious in group analysis. I focus on the “black hole” as a collective or social defence against extremely painful shared anxieties. I illustrate the use of the collective black hole with data from a group analytic group.

The social unconscious

The concept of the “unconscious” constitutes one of the cornerstones of psychoanalytic theory. According to the Language of Psychoanalysis (Laplanche & Pontalis, 1967, p. 381), “If one wished to summarize the Freudian discovery in one word, it would undoubtedly be that of the unconscious”. Although Foulkes (1948), the founder of group analysis, was a Freudian psychoanalyst, he introduced the concept of the social unconscious in order to stress the importance of sociality and socialisation in the life of persons and groups. In the context of field theory (Lewin, 1951), the social unconscious came to include notions of relationality, transpersonality, transgenerationality, and collectivity (Hopper & Weinberg, 2016). Moreover, as Foulkes shifted from the “collective mind” to the “foundation matrix” and the “dynamic matrix”, the theory of group analysis began to function as a bridge between sociology and contemporary psychoanalysis (Hopper, 2009), and the conceptualisation of the social unconscious became central to the basic theory of group analysis (Hopper, 2011).

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Appendix - The Co-Creation of the Israeli Institute of Group Analysis: Notes from the Archives

Karnac Books ePub

Avi Berman, Miriam Berger, and Joshua Lavie

The history of professional group practice in Israel predates the founding of the Israeli Institute of Group Analysis. Sensitivity training groups were imported from the West Coast of the USA, and they flourished with a generation of flower children. More restrained European fun came from Bion's British tradition, which was, ironically, introduced by Itamar Rogovsky and his colleagues from applied psychoanalysis in Argentina. “T Groups” were established in universities, business organisations, and, finally, in the military. In such groups, we experienced for the very first time what it was like to share our emotions and thoughts with other adults who were strangers to each other. Sometimes, we managed to talk about our personal weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and, in turn, to hear the confessions of others. We were often moved by these exchanges.

Those of us who became familiar with Bion's study group legacy were confronted with the challenging and sometimes frightening role of the “leader”. We experienced resistances that are still remembered to this day. We learnt how to respond to the appeals of individual members of groups by offering them interpretation of group dynamics. At the same time, we were in the midst of training in mental health professions. We came from different disciplines (psychologists, social workers, and psychotherapists), which focused mainly on the dyadic relationship between therapist and patient. With very few exceptions, our previous trainings did not teach us about the effectiveness of group therapy, or make it possible for us to trust it. Moreover, the leaders of our supervision groups seemed not to understand group processes. We contained this negativity silently, mainly because we were still interns.

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Chapter Fourteen - The Patient, the Group, and the Conductor Coping with Subtle Aggression in an Analytic Group

Karnac Books ePub

Rachel A. Chejanovsky

Introduction

I have been prompted to write this chapter by my recent experience with aggression in my analytic therapy group. I am concerned with a subtle form of aggression, one that is almost silent. In some ways, it cannot be seen, and is as quiet as a lullaby, but as insidious as drops of water slowly wearing away a stone. This form of aggression can occur every day, and it can have serious consequences for personal development. Some patients are unaware that they have suffered, or are suffering, from such aggression, as though they learnt long ago to accept it as an ongoing fact of their life, which they accommodated and even took for granted, as “given” (Hopper & Weinberg, 2011, p. xxxv). Their experience of aggression was often accompanied by feelings of guilt or shame. For example, a woman who was born into a family characterised by continuing aggression towards her told the group, “My mother had a hard time giving birth to me; I was a difficult child.” On hearing this, I thought, “What kind of mother would blame her child for a difficult birth?” In my eyes, this was an example of extraordinary, but unrecognised, aggression.

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Chapter Twelve - “Is There Hope for Change at my Age?”

Karnac Books ePub

Bracha Hadar

My patients often ask me this question, regardless of age. It becomes more fundamental when the patient is over sixty years old.

In this chapter, I talk about my group analytic group, started in 2010 for people over sixty. This group is the backdrop for the unfolding story of Azi, my eldest patient, who joined the group, aged eighty-five and left it aged eighty-seven, when he felt that he had finished his process.

Azi's history was very much connected to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The significance that Erikson (1964), de Maré (1985), and others give to the historical–social forces which influence individual development, adds further understanding to the formative years of Azi's life.

The title of this chapter—“Is there hope for change…?”—is very relevant to my feelings about Israel at the moment. At the time of writing, it is August 2014, the war in Gaza continues, and is felt by many Israelis, including me, to be a deep national and personal crisis, which evokes similar feelings to those experienced during the Yom Kippur War. I am struck by the question—is there hope for real change in the Middle East?

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