Complexity and Group Processes: A Radically Social Understanding of Individuals

Complexity and Group Processes: A Radically Social Understanding of Individuals

Complexity and Group Processes: A Radically Social Understanding of Individuals

Complexity and Group Processes: A Radically Social Understanding of Individuals

Synopsis

Complexity theory provides a model for understanding human behaviour that is not based on the individual. It attracts a great deal of attention in the area of organisations and management, & this interest is rapidly spreading to psychology.

Excerpt

This book has, of course, emerged from my own life experience in which, over the years, I have become increasingly interested in group processes and how individuals are involved in them. I was educated initially as a lawyer but before completing my law studies I moved to the area of economics. After a brief period teaching economics I spent many years working in commercial organizations before taking up a teaching post at the University of Hertfordshire where I taught strategic management. As part of this teaching I became involved, by chance, in group relations work with the Tavistock Institute, where I began to develop an interest in psychoanalysis. This involvement has exercised an important influence on my thinking. At much the same time, again by chance, I 'discovered' the sciences of chaos and complexity. This too has exercised a very important influence on my thinking. The combination of psychoanalysis, complexity sciences and organizational theory was reflected in various books I have written about life in organizations, where an understanding of group processes is of the greatest importance. Rather late in life, I undertook a training in group-analytic therapy and since then part of my work has been conducting clinical therapy groups. This encounter has also exercised a powerful influence on how I think.

My experience, therefore, has only relatively recently come to include work in mental health settings and my thinking about working in these settings displays the influence of a career in commercial organizations and teaching. As a consequence I have never come to feel committed to psychoanalytic ways of thinking. While psychoanalysis has certainly greatly influenced me, I have increasingly come to find problematic the fundamental assumptions on which it is built. I have also come to think that the heavy reliance group-analytic therapy places on psychoanalysis is restricting. I have, therefore, written this book in order to explore how one might think about groups in ways that draw on the important insights of psychoanalysis but do not rely on its meta psychological theories.

I want to express my gratitude to those many people who have formed my thinking and who have commented on drafts of this book. In particular . . .

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