Politics and Groups

Increasingly my psychoanalytic understanding merged with my interest in the social forms of care, and seemed useful in understanding their dynamics. I had, in 1976, finished my training as a psychoanalyst, and in the same year became a Consultant Psychotherapist (St Bernard’s Hospital, in West London). I had time and increasingly a position where I could feel I had some authority when I wrote. Indeed an authority when I spoke; I went on my first lecture tour to New York and Canada, in 1984. In that year, I founded another Journal, the British Journal of Psychotherapy, bringing together successfully a number of hitherto squabbling independent psychotherapy organisations. At the same time, as the world at large moved towards liberal democracy, I seemed to become more fascinated with radical alternatives. Under the influence of Bob Young and the Free Associations group, I could begin to blend psychoanalysis with the social science of care, with a Marxist understanding of those cultural movements.

1983 Projective identification and Marx’s concept of man.
International Review of Psycho-Analysis 16 221-226.
Marx wrote about alienation in his early work, describing a form of self-alienation, which appeared to me remarkably similar to the process described by Melanie Klein as projective identification.

1985 Projective identification, alienation and society.
Group-Analysis 18 241-251.
And this was a follow-up paper to the previous one where I tried to expand the ideas on the features of society in general.

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Having established myself at St Bernards Hospital, I found myself at this time, having both expanded my interest from therapeutic communities, to mental health organisations, and to society at large, and at the same time developed a narrower perspective on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.

1985 The patient’s defensive analyst.
British Journal of Psychotherapy 2 30-41.
I was greatly (and nervously) asked to give a public lecture on behalf of the Association of Group and Individual Psychotherapists in London, and chose the notion of the defensive psychoanalyst (or psychotherapy). It was an attempt to marry the democratising tradition of the therapeutic communities from which I had emerged, with the highly technical clinical methodology I had learned in my training at the Institute of Psychoanalysis. However, it married also with the emerging interest in countertransference which psychoanalysis in Britain was pioneering at the time.

1985 Anti-therapeutic forms of cohesiveness in groups.
International Journal of Therapeutic Communities 6 133-152.  Italian version, Forme antiterapeutiche di coesione nei groupe.  In  Metello Corulli (ed.) 1997 Terapeutico e Antiterapeutico
My interest here was to worry about the problems that social psychology throws up about the domination of individuals by group pressures. One naive view of group therapy (and therapeutic communities) is that a cohesive group is a therapeutic one; but the lesson of social psychology is that a cohesive group can be one in which individuals are expected to, and coerced into, conforming. It was the beginning of an interest, and concern, that led to my book in 1997 attempting to discriminate coercion from therapy.

1985 Questions of training.
Free Associations 2 7-18
My enduring interest in groups and organisation, made it possible to reflect in psychodynamic ways on the state of the psychotherapy profession, and its trainings

1986 Eclecticism: the impossible project.
Free Associations 5 23-27.
This paper follows up on the last, and the problem of teaching the plethora of competing ideas, and schools of ideas, in the psychoanalytic world, with a concern that eclecticism may not be a useful introduction ot pluralism, but merely a cover-up for confusion.

1986 Psychological defence and nuclear war.
Medicine and War 2 29-38.  Republished in Covington, Coline, Wiiliams, Paul, Arundale, Jean and Knox, Jean (eds) 2002 Loneon
Having way back in my student years been very worried about the necessity to ‘ban the bomb’, I returned to a quasi-political theme, by trying to link the notion of nuclear war with the very deeply buried primitive anxiety of annihilation carried in everyone, according to a Kleinian point of view

1987 Between the devil and the deep blue sea – Relations with the dominant class. In Emilio Modena (ed) Between the devil and the deep blue sea- Psychoanalyse im Netz(Freiburg: Kore)
The political thrusts of 20 years before had, due to a demoralising lack of success, led many to psychoanalysis as a means of understanding the apparent obtuseness of the human spirit to liberate itself. The British branch of this was the Free Association group. For several years, this group linked up with similar continental groups to hold joint conferences. This was a paper I was invited to give. I detailed some of the psychoanalytic views of social phenomena and forces that have interested me, and have been based on my therapeutic community experience blended with the Tavistock approach to organisations.