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Wallenberg Pachaly, A.v. (1995). A group-dynamic understanding of structural violence and group psychotherapy. Free Associations, 5(2):221-238.

(1995). Free Associations, 5(2):221-238

A group-dynamic understanding of structural violence and group psychotherapy

Andreas von Wallenberg Pachaly

In this paper, I wish to discuss the political or social dimension of psychoanalysis in general, and psychoanalytic group-therapy in particular. To begin with, I want to introduce the concept of structural violence put forward by Johan Galtung in the early 1970s. Next, I wish to develop a group-dynamic understanding of this concept as well as attempt a psycho- and group-historical understanding. This will help diagnose the impact of structural violence on the personality structure of an individual patient. I understand this as the petrified and internalized group-dynamics of the individual's primary group. The next step will be to integrate the psycho-historical and group-dynamic concept of structural violence and the dimension of group therapy as a way of encountering other human beings, here and now, as well as to make alive their past experience in the here and now. This means that through transference and countertransference and, above all, through the process of externalizing an internalized interpersonal matrix through the matrix of the member patients and the person of the therapist, we can get hold of the interpersonal fabric that enforces structural violence—as well as its effects—in the personality structure of the individual patient.

Through the pattern of the differentiated developmental state of a patient's ego-functions, by the group-dynamic position and by the interpersonal fabric “produced,” we can diagnose what structural violence has done to a particular patient, how it has damaged personality-growth, and how it cripples interpersonal capacities.

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