Charity begins at home. Group work teaches the elements of a functional community
It may not be necessary to start with the biological evidence that the space between objects, be they cells or planets, is charged with a dynamic that responds or at least carries data between one organism and another. This “empty” space between objects has primarily been referred to as “nothing.” Starting with that reputation and continuing right into the present, the study of the subjective has not been considered a matter for science. The physical world, the what-you-can-see-and-touch world was the physics of everything.
Common sense, and our sensual perceptions, however, tell us something very different. At least in our atmosphere there is air between objects and when we are speaking of the space between two people in relationship there is a perpetual transference that exist between the two people and that transferences is at work all the time assessing and re assessing and internally commenting, or subjectively judging the quality and the quantity of the relationship between the two.
Human evolution has complicated these relationships by the, (in geologic time), relatively recent introduction of language; that is, a form of communication that allows for not only the perception of data but the synthesis and the analysis of data.
Language, or “just words” as a recent patient called it, makes use of the space between the two and uses that space as a vehicle to communicate symbols and sounds that are organized in such a way allowing for one person to pretty accurately render a thought and/or an emotion from one to the other.
It is that very space between the two that defines the differences and explores the similarities. Psychoanalysis is the science that has in the last one-hundred plus years provided the most convincing data that relationships are not only random bumpings into each other. Instead, psychoanalysis has shown us through clinical research that human interactions are froth with not only what is happening in the moment; but our dynamic interactions contain transferences that may come from not only an earlier event in our lives, but might be handed down in some kind of genetically coded ancestral characteristics.
We are a complicated lot, we humans.
My favorite place to acquire knowledge and understand about my patients is in groups. I find groups to contain the metaphors for all that we encounter in the rest of our lives. The circle, the intimate group is a setting in which the negative union is guaranteed a fair hearing.
There is a quality to family life that is evolving in a way that bothers me greatly. Often I see alienation and disconnections between people and especially in families. This lack of connection grows into a disrespect because frustrations and negative union are some how not permitted to exist. It is as if we are homogenizing into a purity of intention that is so fearful of the bacterias that might contaminate, that we are avoiding dynamic differences between us altogether. We have grown to despise differences in our politics, our society and our families.
As we unconsciously move forward to where we all wear a size nine shoe. Many of us can not and do not want to keep up with the mis-guided marching forward unconsciously. We are marginalized and even legislated against.
Let’s get rid of the safety net for the poor and the unfortunate because they are a drag on society. In the same way we have become use to not calling Mom because she will probably say something that we do not agree with and we do not want to be subjected to an opinion other than our own. We seem to have become unable to disagree without hating and defending.
We are closing down at home and at work and in our politics. Differences are seen as dangerous to my greed and growth so they are witnessed with caution. Eventually the disenfranchised are arrested and punished for the discomfort they cause us. In families the tendency is to simply drift further away until connections become simply too inconvenient.
The very compassionate and loving feeling of sadness has been trampled into anger, and where there use to be life long attempts to resolve differences, we are seeing major cut-offs in contact and communication. This further causes the ennui from which our age suffers, but in many cases the new feeling of ennui is also transferred or put onto “The Other”, further complicating resolution, repentance and restitution.
I find that working in groups, we develop more thoughts and insights into who we are and into the variety of influences that effect or everyday decision making. I find that empathy and love and compassion and understandings are easier to come come by in a setting where a nonjudgmental atmosphere contributes to intimate investigations that increase our capacity for strength by developing a tolerance for vulnerability…
Group work has been the centerpiece of my psychoanalytic training. Process and not out-come has been the method through which making the unconscious conscious takes shape. Group work has also become the centerpiece of my psychoanalytic practice. When we gather for the explicit purpose of building community we are exposed to our weakness and we are exposed to our strength. This complete, undistorted view of ourselves, this processing movement toward authenticity provides the new paradigm from which we learn to operate our minds and our bodies in a manner conducive to health, success and happiness…..
Charity still begins at home.