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Appelbaum, S.A. (1966). The Kennedy Assassination. Psychoanal. Rev., 53C(3):69-80.

(1966). Psychoanalytic Review, 53C(3):69-80

The Kennedy Assassination

Stephen A. Appelbaum, Ph.D.

A group dynamics class, convened for twenty meetings to study the psychology of groups through the method of observing itself, met for the ninth time two weeks after the death of President Kennedy. That meeting was spent in mourning, but with the leader of the group rather than the President the object of the members' feelings of loss, guilt, anger and fear. Even between patient and individual psychotherapist, such an early intense emotional involvement would not be expected. Its seemingly premature occurrence between student-psychiatrists and their teacher-group leader requires an explanation and offers an opportunity for increased understanding of group process and its relationship to psychoanalysis.

In Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego,8 Freud suggests that a group comes about through identification of the members with one another, based upon an emotional tie with the leader. In Totem and Taboo5 he suggests that the emotional tie is a legacy from the prehistoric killing of the leader-father by the band of brothers in order to break the father's sexual monopoly, and that this fateful act, followed by remorse and penitential renunciation of parricide and incest, supplies a basis for the group living which we call the family.

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