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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021


Systems psychodynamics scholars and practitioners believe that when people assemble for a task, there are actually two forms of mental activity occurring simultaneously: The task-oriented work group and the anxiety-fueled basic assumption group. Much has been written about the dynamics of basic assumption groups yet relatively little research has examined the work group or the space between configurations, what Winnicott might have called the 'potential space of one identifiable group position and another. The following essay addresses this gap, first outlining Tavistock-inspired theories of group behavior and then hypothesizing that an instinctive, developmental push an unconscious sense of guilt may be one force that propels some basic assumption groups swing back to work mode. Areas warranting further research will also be identified.