Robert D. Hinshelwood
What group therapist has not experienced the intense group pressure to join the interpersonal transference matrix of the group, to be pulled into its incestuous ways, its hostile acting out, its resistance to doing the work of the group? Robert Hinshelwood here offers a unique conceptual model which the therapist can use to retain his or her ability to think objectively yet empathically under stress and to create for himself and the group a mental space relatively free of the group contagion effect.
Hinshelwood makes use of a fascinating connection between paranoid projection, group contagion and conformity pressure, Citing Asch's well-known experimental research showing that the subject's objective judgement is markedly influenced and distorted by the judgements of other members of a group, Hinshelwood realizes that due to group pressure, the primitive paranoid-schizoid ideation of a regressed group can distort the thinking even of the group leader. Thus, when scapegoating, for example, takes place, it becomes extremely difficult for the leader to sort out the actual characteristics of the scapegoated member from what the group has projected into him.
Hinshelwood postulates a new concept to account for the way in which the group contains or fails to contain affects and linkages in its interactions: what he calls the group 'reflective space',
Hinshelwood then exemplifies in detail how the therapist can contain the group's projections and help sort out the cognitive distortions which threaten to disrupt the life of the group.
There is hardly a more frightening appearance than an angry crowd of people, a mob; there can hardly be anything more destructive on this planet than a large group of people armed with the latest military technology; there is nothing more shocking than a gang committing multiple rape on its victim.