Whose aggression am I feeling? Whose fearful thoughts am I thinking? Whose love experience am I experiencing? Mine? Yours? Their? Group’s? Does it matter?
Dr Shahin Sakhi:
I am proposing to direct an experiential learning of here and now experience workshop to study the effects of group dynamics and group relations on the way we feel, think, and survive in social relations. This methodology is based on Wilfred Bion’s analytic work with groups: small and large study groups are formed and participants learn from expression of their here and now experience while thinking about the theme of the congress and why they have attended this congress.
When any group is under stress and members feel the pressure of group dynamics, the group recruits its members to make subgroups to interact with each other in order to manage the group’s stress and survive. Members are conscious about what they want for themselves and their identified sub-group, however, they are not conscious about their participation in survival of the group as a whole. It is during stressful times that fear of loss, failure, death, mortality, and desire to gain power, be immortal, be aggressive, or violent, or escape, or become invisible are experienced by some or all group members at different times of group life. These occur automatically as well as reactions to those feelings. Members are authorized and gain power to act on behalf of a sub-group they identify with. However, as long as the member is caught in the automaticity of the group dynamics, he or she might be involved in a change other than the intended change. The challenge is to be able to express the here and now feelings, thoughts, and experiences instead of acting on them in order to discover better and more peaceful ways to manage one’s stress, hence contribute to management of the group’s stress.
The benefit of sharing a here and now experience in a group format, which I call free association of the group as-a-whole, is manifolds.
1) Experiential learning of different ways that tension in the group is distributed and influences members’ behavior.
2) Group projects its desire and fear into its members in variety of forms based on members’ valence to receive certain projection at any moment.
3) Learn to balance power and authority within self through taking appropriate roles in a group to stay on task, which is to study here and now feelings, thoughts, and experiences in group relations context.
4) To better contain overwhelming feelings and emotions through putting them in words and sharing their here and now experience.
5) Members learn that what is shared as information about the dynamics of this particular group is also reflective of social relations at large.