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Ormont, L.R. (1974). The Treatment of Pre-Oedipal Resistances in the Group Setting. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(3):429-441.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(3):429-441

The Treatment of Pre-Oedipal Resistances in the Group Setting

Louis R. Ormont, Ph.D.

All patients in group treatment have both Oedipal and pre-Oedipal resistances to giving new information about themselves in a progressive way. The Oedipal resistances (patterned between the ages of two and six) readily respond to interpretation. Simply pointing out to a group in the Oedipal state that they are chit-chatting in order to avoid talking about their feelings toward each other is generally enough to set the members on the road toward resolving the resistance. But the pre-Oedipal resistances (patterned from birth to the age of two) require emotional, symbolic, or joining interventions before they can be resolved.

In group treatment, fortunately, the emotional interchanges among the members can dissolve some of these preverbal resistances, while symbolic interventions, such as feeding words to emotionally starved group members, will melt others.

But a large number of them will not respond to any intervention except reflective communications, sometimes called siding or joining. Unless the analyst joins pre-Oedipal communications in such cases, these members will not be able to escape the repetitive patterns in which they are trapped and stalemated. As long as they are bound up with repressed aggression, they will be unable to describe the variety of feelings or the diversity of unverbalized thoughts within themselves.

In one group, member after member endlessly recounted how miserable his lot was. The analyst kept making the point that they were all complaining, but to no avail. Finally, the analyst interjected that he, too, was miserable; in fact, he felt more miserable than they did. At first the members were curious and interested, but soon they experienced his statement as irritating, and a burst of resentment followed.

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