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Papanek, H. (1961). The Management of Anxiety in Group Psychoanalysis. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(1):82-84.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(1):82-84

The Management of Anxiety in Group Psychoanalysis Related Papers

Helene Papanek, M.D.

Is it permissible for the analyst to be anxious? One might as well ask, “Is an analyst allowed to be human?” Nevertheless, the effect of the analyst's anxiety on his competency must be considered. Is he a better or worse analyst, of more or less use to his patients if he responds with anxiety in certain situations to certain personalities?

These questions are of great importance in the training and supervision of group analysts. We frequently observe a rather high degree of anxiety in the trainee. This may be due to two factors. One is the lack of knowledge of the group situation and of the forces operating in the group. This is a “normal” anxiety due to the newness of the situation.

The other cause for anxiety is the analyst's feeling of being exposed in a group and being confronted by a variety of patients at once. He has to respond to them all by one act rather than individually, as in the one-to-one situation of individual analysis.

Anxiety stemming from these two sources, newness and exposure, is usually overcome in a few weeks if the supervisor gives empathetic encouragement to the trainee. But there are other factors in group psychoanalysis which evoke anxiety even in the experienced analyst to a greater or lesser degree. These factors, inherent in the dynamics of the group, may continue to make the analyst anxious or tense even after many years of his professional growth. Although recurring anxiety may cause some discomfort, it also contributes to keeping the analyst on his toes and alert when he is challenged again and again in his therapeutic work with groups.

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