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Schwartz, E.K. (1972). Discussion. Contemp. Psychoanal., 8(2):247-252.

(1972). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 8(2):247-252


Emanuel K. Schwartz, Ph.D.

IN THIS PAPER Henry Ezriel makes use of material previously published (1950, 1951, 1952) and re-presented and published again after 1956, when this one in slightly longer form appeared. In some of these he refers to his work as analytic group treatment, in others as scientific testing of psychoanalytic theory and practice.

Ezriel is part of the British school of group therapists who, in doing analytic work in the group setting, tend to treat the group as if it were one patient, and to seek unifying themes, assumptions, and trends in the interaction of the members. He is paleo-Freudian in that he restricts his, the therapist's activity to two basic tenets. First, everything the patients say or do is related to the therapist. Second, the only intervention of the leader is to interpret, and with each interpretation to focus on and reinforce the view that all intrapsychic and interpersonal behavior of all the patients is always therapist-oriented, always transferential.

From the point of view of analytic group therapy, Ezriel is out of touch with the American tradition that tends to deemphasize the significance of the leader by stressing the importance of peer relations and real and projected peer interactions, and ego functions (Platt, 1970) ; (Schwartz and Wolf, 1969). This trend is most clearly to be seen in the alternate session, the regular meeting of the members of a treatment group without the physical presence of the therapist. Here the hierarchical vector is attenuated in reality. Moreover, transference, which even for Ezriel is ubiquitous, must be present also in peer interaction. Therefore, American analytic group therapists give due consideration to multiple and peripheral transference phenomena which occur among the members of the group (Wolf and Schwartz, 1962).

Unlike the British, American analytic group therapists tend to place less emphasis on group dynamics and more on individual uniqueness, individual differences, by seeking psychodynamic, latent motivation in bipersonal, tripersonal and multipersonal behavior. In looking at such behavior American group therapists tend to seek to understand the real and projected (symbolic) provocations for the real and projected (symbolic) responses among the members.

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