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Gordon, J. (1995). L. Ormont, The Group Therapy Experience From Theory to Practice, St. Martin's Press: New York, 1992, 239 pp.. Free Associations, 5(2):249-253.

(1995). Free Associations, 5(2):249-253

L. Ormont, The Group Therapy Experience From Theory to Practice, St. Martin's Press: New York, 1992, 239 pp.

Review by:
John Gordon

Unfortunately, neither Bion nor Foulkes, both of whom undoubtedly considered psychoanalysis as fundamental for an understanding of group dynamics and psychotherapy, left mature written statements on their technical recommendations for work with groups. Although seminal and technically suggestive, the bulk of Experiences in Groups is essentially pre-analytic as well as avowedly not psychotherapeutic in scope. And while the subsequently written final chapter applies Klein's theory of psychotic anxieties and defenses to Bion's earlier formulations, the profound technical implications for group psychotherapy of such concepts as projective identification, container-contained, attacks on linking, the theory of thinking and -K were not explicitly presented by Bion himself. Foulkes, of course, wrote many theoretical works about group analysis (all of which contain clinical examples), but he died before completion of what was intended to be a technical book. This has left the field to Yalom's influential but non-analytic text with its stress on interpersonal interactions.

Louis Ormont, a veteran New York group psychotherapist with a background in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, has published many articles in the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy; and he has now synthesized the technical precepts that emerge from over forty years of experience in the field. The historical context that I have very briefly sketched may help to think about Ormont's book.

I welcome The Group Therapy Experience as an account of an attempt to base clinical understanding and technique on a psychoanalytic perspective. In particular, I would highly recommend this book to all those who work with groups on the basis of one chapter alone, significantly the longest: “What The Therapist Feels.” In some thirty pages, Ormont spells out how central the affective experience (including thoughts, fantasies, bodily changes) of the group psychotherapist is in the orientation to the often overwhelmingly complex material of a group session.

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