Ring of Fire: Primitive Affects and Object Relations in Group Psychotherapy

By Victor L. Schermer; Malcolm Pines | Go to book overview

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An editorial introduction

Silence=death

Malcolm Pines and Victor L. Schermer

The ring of fire 'stands for the life cycle of both the universe and each individual being: the circular dance of nature in the eternal process of creation and destruction. At the same time, the light radiated by the ring of flames symbolizes eternal wisdom and transcendental illumination.'

J.E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

Ecclesiastes

Group psychotherapy, like the human life cycle, has its universal ongoing themes punctuated by periods of intense emotionality, crisis, regression and transformation. The circular form in which the group is seated symbolizes its unity, connectedness and cohesion as well as its microcosmic relation to the larger world of human evolution, culture and the life cycle. Foulkes, Bion, Ezriel and others have identified primitive layers of affect and object relations where universal collective themes and early infantile object relations are re-experienced and repeated in the meeting place for healing called the therapy group. In this cauldron of group emotionality, profound energies are released which have a wide range of implications for change and growth.

This book brings together a collection of new and original contributions to an understanding of primitive object relations and of those highly charged emotional states which present the maximum challenge to the group psychotherapist: the 'Ring of Fire'. In the present volume, an international group of colleagues, based in Great Britain, France and the United States, address areas of special interest to them and to which they have devoted considerable research and therapeutic effort. They will provide insights into the dynamics of these issues and guide the therapist in the management and interpretation of the group events as they unfold.

When Ring of Fire was initially conceived, and each of the contributing authors was contacted, the editors specifically asked him or her to provide, in effect, a teaching and supervisory experience about a particular group

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