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Hora, T. (1961). Existential Psychiatry and Group Psychotherapy. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(1):58-70.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(1):58-70

Existential Psychiatry and Group Psychotherapy

Thomas Hora, M.D.

A therapy group is a structured life situation designed for the study and treatment of the diseased human being. The group situation illuminates the human personality in a multidimensional way and provides for a deeper understanding of the individual through the quality of his relationships to the other group members and the therapist.

The group-psycho therapeutic experience is a living, dynamic experience for all participants, including the therapist. In therapy groups the members function not as samples of various psychic mechanisms or disease entites, but as people with specific ways of experiencing life and specific ways of dealing and communicating with the environment, that is, as individually characteristic modes of “being there.”1,2 Thus, in fact, the therapy group represents a microcosmos or a segment of the world, and as such it is a situation of an existential encounter for all participants. It is a crossroads at which eight or ten people meet and in this meeting reveal to each other and discover for themselves their particular modes of being-in-this world.3 When they part, the course of their progression through life is for the most part altered to an appreciable degree.

As a personality, man is mostly a product of his family setting and his socio-cultural environment. As a human being, however, he is an existential phenomenon in terms of his unique characteristics among the living creatures of this world. Survival, growth, and fulfillment require man to adapt himself to his fellow man, his family, to social, cultural, and economic conditions.

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