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Tuttman, S. (1980). The Question of Group Therapy—from a Psychoanalytic Viewpoint. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 8(2):217-234.

(1980). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 8(2):217-234

The Question of Group Therapy—from a Psychoanalytic Viewpoint

Saul Tuttman, M.D., Ph.D.

The majority of classical psychoanalysts seem to have had little direct clinical contact or experience with group therapy; furthermore, there is an evident reluctance — if not distrust and discomfort — in regard to even contemplating group psychotherapy. For one thing, the analyst learns to be tentative and conservative when it comes to modifying a hard-won heritage involving years of discipline and an ongoing struggle against rationalizations from many quarters which dilute psychoanalysis. These are often forms of resistance to the systematic monitoring of the ubiquitous unconscious dynamics. Analysts continually strive to comprehend the complexity of the human psyche and the intricate problems in therapeutic work. We struggle with both our own human difficulties and the painful predicaments of those who consult us. It is not surprising, therefore, that many of us feel quite wary about adding to the burdens of one-to-one treatment a roomful of potentially ranting, vengeful, demanding, or even loving patients. It is difficult enough to sit there quietly behind the couch, calmly contemplating while our patients lie down and free-associate. The prospect of eight to ten times as many directly surrounding us can inspire dread and anxiety. Add to this the popular group-like fads and movements: “Wild Analysis” — “Feelies” — “Touchies” — “Take Off Your Clothes” — “Let Yourself Go” — “Attack” — “Scream” — “Cure-all Quickie Sessions”! It makes the analyst quiver with shock and contempt, as well as fear, when he hears the very word “group.”

Yet, there have been and are a number of Freudian analysts who have a high regard for the efficacy and advantages of group treatment methods.

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