The Group Spirit
IN considering the mental life of a patriot army, as the type of a highly organised group, we saw that group self-consciousness is a factor of very great importance --that it is a principal condition of the elevation of its collective mental life and behaviour above the level of the merely impulsive violence and unreasoning fickleness of the mob.
This self-consciousness of the group is the essential condition of all higher group life; we must therefore study it more nearly as it is manifested in groups of various types. It is unfortunate that our language has no word that accurately translates the French expression, esprit de corps; for this conveys exactly the conception that we are examining. I propose to use the term group spirit as the equivalent of the French expression, the frequent use of which in English speech and writing sufficiently justifies the attempt to specialise this compound word for psychological purposes.
We have seen that, in virtue of the sentiment developed about the idea of the army, all its members exhibit group loyalty; it is only as the sentiment develops about the idea that this idea of the whole, present to the mind of each member, becomes a power which can hold the whole group together, in spite of all physical and moral difficulties. We see this if we reflect how armies of mercenaries, in which this collective sentiment is lacking or rudimentary
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Publication information: Book title: Group Mind:A Sketch of the Principles of Collective Psychology, with Some Attempt to Apply Them to the Interpretation of National Life and Character:. Contributors: William McDougall - Author. Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1920. Page number: 87.
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