Race Prejudice and Discrimination: Readings in Intergroup Relations in the United States

By Arnold M. Rose | Go to book overview

55.
Group Therapy in Overcoming Racial and Cultural
Tensions *

Gisela Konopka

[ Starting from the theoretical premises of the psychiatrist, Professor Gisela Konopka experiments with a technique, originally devised to reduce neurosis, to determine its value in reducing race prejudice. The approach to the problem among children is a most important one, since there is greater likelihood of eliminating prejudice among children than among adults, who have integrated prejudice into their general personality structure. ]

During the past four years the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Center has made therapeutic groups an integral part of its setup. Not only are such groups valuable in diagnosis and treatment,1 but they also afford opportunity to observe racial and cultural factors as they play a role in emotional disturbances in children. In addition, there is an almost unique opportunity to help overcome racial and cultural tensions because in these therapeutic groups there is no segregation as to color, race, religion, economic or social background. Too often we think security comes by staying in one's own racial and cultural group. It has been our experience that the opposite is true; segregation, even if voluntary, only helps to increase feelings of insecurity. Genuine security can come only by meeting with other groups, learning to know them, and accepting each other. Group treatment, unfortunately not yet widely enough used, offers these opportunities.

Racial or cultural tensions cannot be solved or even lessened by therapeutic work alone. Social and economic measures in housing and in working conditions will have to be taken through legislation. Nevertheless, nothing can be changed basically if we do not help to overcome the emotional attitudes fostered through centuries and repeated in every generation. It is recognized that racial and cultural factors are never the only causes of emotional disturbances. A person, secure in his own family, can develop into a well adjusted person even if the whole environment outside his

____________________
*
From The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 17 ( October, 1947), 693-9. Copyright 1947 by The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Reprinted by permission of The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry and the author.
1
Harry M. Little, M.D. and Gisela Konopka: "Group Therapy in a Child Guidance Center". Am. J. Orthopsychiatry, 17:2, 1947.

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