Help us sharing our research, consultation and experiences

Donate Now

The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021


Entering Cyberspace, a Potential Space for Creative Work. This is a report from the front. Doing something for the first time, something that one has had no specific training for, can feel like being under siege and putting oneself in the line of fire. Although other people have had experience as students, seminar registrants, and faculty with educational activities conducted entirely or primarily on the internet, I had not. My competence with computers was limited primarily to word processing and I had been slow to make use of the internet. So, it may seem in retrospect to have been bold, even foolhardy, to have accepted an invitation to work as a small study group consultant on the first group relations conference to be conducted entirely on the internet in 2006. But I did. My reasons seemed adequate and prudent at the time: 1) I knew the director and his work well, first as a student and then as a colleague and friend; 2) He had worked under my direction on many non-residential weekend group relations conferences; 3) I respected his professionalism, integrity and skill; 4) He had used the internet for similar kinds of group work; 5) Even though I knew the principal co-sponsor only through his many posts on the ISPSO list on the internet, and was skeptical about the workability of collaboration between these two principals and between the organizations that they headed, I overcame my reservations because I wanted the challenge of doing something cutting edge. Many surprises, much turbulence, and distress ensured, but I survived the experience intact, with a strong sense that, as a senior in the fields of group relations conferences, group psychology, and group psychotherapy, I have a professional obligation to evaluate and report my experience working on line, at the front. What follows here are some of my observations and thoughts. These cannot be taken as a comprehensive report of conference work in cyberspace or as an objective evaluation of it and its potential. In short, I believe much worthwhile learning took place. This may be a story of the human capacity to make sense of chaos, to learn through encounters with psychosis - a case, perhaps, of making lemonade out of lemons. You can be the judge. However, I urge caution in arriving at conclusions.