It is the author's thesis that when groups are relatively unorganized, primaryprocesses are revealed, stripped of secondary elaboration, rationalization, and distortion. These latter appear only after the group acquires structure. Experience with groups of two to eight neurotics demonstrated the advisability of giving minimal instructions on beginning therapy. This helped to avoid
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guilt when the leader's commands were not followed. Resistances such as silence, breaking silence to lessen embarrassment, ignoring emotions, and changing the subject were analyzed to reveal ego defenses.
The author feels that a few sessions of individual therapy is the best introduction to a group. New patients, too readily responsive or silent, seldom return. Introduction of a new member may revive paranoid hostilities in the group, followed by an attitude of benevolence toward others. Urging or probing are useless with silent patients, but close observation often reveals their nonverbal reactions. Such patients often arouse latent aggression in others.
Group therapy requires as long a period as individual therapy. When group members pair off, for libidinal or aggressive reasons, or because ego defenses can be reciprocated, the attachment should be analyzed, lest it break up the group. Abreaction is greater the larger the group, when ego defenses are projected onto other members with resulting depletion of an individual's ego. This is similar to the panic reactions of crowds. A pseudo-friendly attitude masking hostility, anxiety, and suspicion appears when the group starts, but becomes more real and deeper as mutual identifications and aim inhibited libidinal investments are made. Hostility may occasionally unite the members against the therapist or a scapegoat.
Experience with analytically oriented therapeutic groups illuminates the structured gatherings of society, where the procedure takes over the ego functions and the paranoid formation of a threat unites the members.
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(1960). International Journal of Group Psychotherapy. IX, 1959. Psychoanal. Q., 29:597-598