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Thomson, J. (1984). McCully, R. (Charleston). ‘The nature of collective movements: the hidden second force’. Am. J. Psychother., 37, 2 (1983).. J. Anal. Psychol., 29(3):296.

(1984). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 29(3):296

McCully, R. (Charleston). ‘The nature of collective movements: the hidden second force’. Am. J. Psychother., 37, 2 (1983).

Review by:
Jean Thomson

The author is an analyst and psychiatrist whose focus is on psychic forces that may underlie collective movements. His views are based on Jung's original thoughts on the presence of collective forces in the psyche which, when activated, influence human perceptions and behaviour.

The first part of this paper explores the structure of collective movements. In particular, their roots are compared with those of obsessional neurosis. It is suggested that the energy which is locked up in an obsession may also be what promotes engagement in a collective movement. The overt aims of the movement may provide an apparently ‘better life adaptation’ for the individual, but there is a second power source of activated non-conscious elements. These may become hooked, for example, into the psychopathology of a charismatic leader; then forces far beyond the stated aims of the movement may be unleashed.

The discussion in the paper is initially as dispassionate as the reader could wish. However, McCully's choice of feminism as a case study of a collective movement entangles him in just the unconscious traps he is trying to analyse. He quotes the Wife of Bath: What do women desire above all else? Mastery over men. He appears to share this view, and this unfortunately distorts the second part of this otherwise fascinating paper.

The writer does not mention Wilhelm Reich, but his ideas resonate with those expressed in The Mass Psychology of Fascism.

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