If there is an ultimate challenge to the group therapist, it is the potential for violence and rage in the group. In what follows, Saul Tuttman offers a measured and well-considered approach to aggression in groups, which allows for the members' healthy expression of hostility yet with the kinds of therapist interpretations and interventions which allow the anger to be worked through and integrated into the mature ego.
The conceptual framework which Tuttman calls upon for the task of mastering member aggression is a pragmatic-and perhaps typically American-blend of ego psychology with borrowings from the object-relations perspectives of Melanie Klein on splitting and projective identification, D.W. Winnicott on holding and on 'hate in the countertransference' and Otto Kernberg on the ego states, defences and affects of borderline patients.
In addition, Tuttman utilizes Scheidlinger's important work on group identifications and on the positive, supportive features of the group as a transference object. Using Margaret Mahler's perspective, Tuttman regards the therapy group as a 'second chance' to rework the deficiencies and defects of the symbiosis/separation-individuation process. Tuttman also discusses (with a human quality that is tantamount to bravery) the hate induced in the therapist's countertransference by the group's projective identifications.
The title of this volume, Ring of Fire, arouses many associations, among them: the intensity of emotion and impulse manifested in the interaction of certain volatile group members within the psychotherapy circle. My focus in this chapter is on the problem of those members of the group whose rage and resentment can erupt in the course of group treatment. I am concerned about the welfare of such angry individuals and of the other group members and