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(1967). International Journal of Group Psychotherapy. XVI, 1966: The Phenomenology and Dynamics of Silence in Psychotherapy Groups. S. R. Slavson. Pp. 396-404.. Psychoanal Q., 36:634-634.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: International Journal of Group Psychotherapy. XVI, 1966: The Phenomenology and Dynamics of Silence in Psychotherapy Groups. S. R. Slavson. Pp. 396-404.
Silence can be considered a function of the adaptive style of the individual, its relation to libido and aggression, and its relation to therapy. Silences may be classified in group therapy as individual, group, selective, and general. General individual silences occur in those to whom verbal communication is a minimal necessity, who identify with silent parents or with catatonic defenses, to whom verbal retention parallels fecal retention, or as a reaction to overwhelming repressed hostility or a fixation in early development.
Neurotic causes for silence include anxiety, fear, timidity, family constrictions, anticipated punishment, a threat to self-esteem, sexual insecurity, defective body image, fear of self-revelation, and guilt.
Selective individual silences appear when the discussion does not concern the individual, is beyond his intelligence or emotional development, induces anxiety, engenders hostility. General group silences are due to heightened anxiety such as is seen in the initial stages of treatment, during discussions beyond patients' understanding, negative transference to the therapist, general hostility or other emotion, emotional cogitation, or a need to provoke a response from the therapist. Selective group silences occur at the mention of taboo topics, evocation of strong emotions toward a member, or intense anxiety.
Silences are imposed by interruptions, changes of subject or quarrels, onslaughts often defensive in intent, and may arise from transference from close relatives who prohibit conversation. They may indicate the therapist's failure to meet the group's needs. Silences representing various forms of hostility may be translated by means of nonverbal communication. Silences should be interpreted or questioned but patients cannot be expected to function beyond their temperaments.
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(1967). International Journal of Group Psychotherapy. XVI, 1966. Psychoanal. Q., 36:634-634