RETHINKING TAVISTOCK: ENACTMENT, THE ANALYTIC THIRD AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR GROUP RELATIONS
Gregory S. Rizzolo Ph.D.is a faculty member at the Institute for Clinical Social Work. His work has appeared in Psychoanalytic Psychology, the Psychoanalytic Study of the Childand the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. He is also the author of The Critique of Regression(Routledge, 2019). He maintains a private practice in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis in Chicago.
The psychoanalytic exploration of group relations requires an orientation to the intersubjective nature of mental life.
The Tavistock model of group relations provides a preliminary framework for thinking intersubjectively about the nature of experiences in groups. However, this model continues to depend on the questionable metaphor of the isolated mind as a container of reified mental contents, which can be passed around by means of projective identification. Furthermore, it continues to invoke the notion of a neutral analyst or consultant with privileged insight into the group's unconscious fantasy life. Through a critical discussion of this approach, this presentation attempts to begin a dialogue about intersubjectivity and its implications for the study and practice of group relations. The presenter argues that an intersubjective approach requires one to look not at how reified mental contents are being moved around within a given group, but rather at how intersubjective experiences can be cocreated by the group members and their conference consultants. He focuses on how enactments between all of these participants can lead to a transformation of self and other through the experience of mutual subjugation and the emergence of a shared third space. In addition, he introduces the concept of the alien group self, a shared identity that the group can form to accommodate to the mindset of its consultants.