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Esman, A.H. (1979). The Art and Technique of Analytic Group Therapy: By Martin Grotjahn, M.D. New York: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1977. 276 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 48:338-339.

(1979). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 48:338-339

The Art and Technique of Analytic Group Therapy: By Martin Grotjahn, M.D. New York: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1977. 276 pp.

Review by:
Aaron H. Esman

Analytic group therapy occupies the position of a bastard child of psychoanalysis—not fully recognized, rarely talked of within the family, but living an active and energetic life in the outside world and often the object of interested, ambivalent, and critical attention on the part of the legitimate members of the clan. Martin Grotjahn is one of the relatively few insiders who have fully embraced this questionable offspring; he has, indeed, become its ardent spokesman and advocate in recent years. The present book is his personal statement about it—less a treatise than a testimonial, less scientific than chiliastic in tone.

Certainly there is little of theory here to burden the reader, but then Grotjahn is explicit in his preference for clinical rather than theoretical teaching in psychoanalytic training as well. The bulk of the book consists of annotated vignettes drawn from his extensive experience with what he calls "slow-open" groups, i.e., those that meet over long periods of time, aiming at "free communication." Grotjahn is unequivocal in his view that "group therapy is the basic model of treatment, the primary therapy"; that in the future, "therapy of the individual will mostly take place in groups." His style is clearly a freewheeling one, although, equally clearly, it is based on the profound understanding of psychoanalytic principles that befits his eminent analytic credentials. He is careful to define and explicate the ways in which he sees group therapy deviating from individual analysis: for example, "systematic analysis of the transference is neither possible in groups nor necessary"; group therapy is a "corrective family experience.

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