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Hobson, R.F. (1964). Group Dynamics and Analytical Psychology. J. Anal. Psychol., 9(1):23-49.

(1964). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 9(1):23-49

Group Dynamics and Analytical Psychology

Robert F. Hobson

“As A physician, I consider any psychic disturbance, whether neurosis or psychosis, to be an individual illness; the patient has to be treated accordingly. The individual can be treated in the group only if he is a member of it. If he is, this should be a great help, since, being submerged in the group, he apparently escapes his self to some degree. The feeling of security is increased and the feeling of responsibility is decreased when one is part of a group.” These words of Jung (Illing, 1957, p. 78) intimate attitudes which permeate his work and which have been reflected in the relative neglect of group dynamics by his followers.

As long ago as 1916, Jung recognized the importance of group psychology and, with Wolff, began an investigation in this field (Jung, 1959). In 1947 Fordham warmly welcomed the great interest in group dynamics which had developed during, and shortly after, the war, and pointed out its great importance in relation to Jung's work (Fordham, 1958). Yet very few analytical psychologists have shown serious interest in the subject, and research, as judged by published contributions, has been meagre.

The lack of an adequate theory of group dynamics, based upon clinical observations, is a grave defect in analytical psychology, and there is an urgent need for research. This should include:

(a)  observation of therapeutic and other groups by analytical psychologists, using and adapting the methods and theories of Jung;

(b)  elucidation of the social reference of Jung's observations and concepts by detailed analysis of his writings;

(c)  reassessment of the theory and practice of analytical psychology, in the light of the extensive research in group psychology which has been carried out by psycho-analysts, Gestalt psychologists, experimental psychologists, sociologists, and others.

This paper is concerned with the first of these approaches, although there is a brief excursion into the second.

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