Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Comments On: Saul Scheidlinger, Ph.D.: "The Concept of Indentification in Group Psychotherapy"

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Comments On: Saul Scheidlinger, Ph.D.: "The Concept of Indentification in Group Psychotherapy"

Article excerpt

Reviewing one's own article written over four decades ago conjures up many reflections, both personal and historical. To begin with, having since then become a proponent of an integrative and pluralistic stance on group-therapy theory and practice, I was struck by my close adherence to Freudian thought at that time. The personal reasons are various: I had just completed a "classical" psychoanalysis; I had published my first book, Psychoanalysis and Group Behavior, based on my Ph.D. dissertation; and, in addition, I was closely affiliated with the American Group Psychotherapy Association whose founder, S. R. Slavson, my erstwhile teacher, was an ardent Freudian. As for the historical context, the 1950s were a time when the broader mental health field was beset by unprecedented squabbles for hegemony among competing schools of psychotherapeutic thought, including group psychotherapy. These conflicts were initially limited to the practitioners of neo-Freudian methods, of Transitional Analysis and of Existentialism. By the end of the decade, the arena was crowded with new combatants: adherents of the British Object Relations theories, of Lewinian Group Dynamics and of Behavioral Therapy. It took the group therapists twenty more years to achieve relative harmony.

As for content, my article detailed the following major themes: (1) The inseparability of individual and of group psychology; (2) The importance of group-as-a-whole phenomena in group psychotherapy; (3) Necessary differentiation between transference and identification, the latter constituting the unconscious element in group cohesiveness; (4) A hypothesized reactivation of the earliest, nonconflictual child-mother bond in the covert perception of the group entity (i. …

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