chapter  Eight
16 Pages

Large group perspectives*

WithPatrick de Maré

The large-group approach enunciates a radical metamorphosis in our thinking about groups. It introduces a dimension that, until now, has been denied as defensive, notably the crucial role of culture as an active ingredient in psychotherapy. The large-group approach adopts many of the principles evolved by Foulkes' small-group approach, such as the single-circle seating arrangements and the non-directive aprogrammatic setting, which is convened, rather than led, by a conductor. The author suggests that large-group meetings be as rigorously handled as a psychoanalytic or group-analytic setting, uncontaminated by communities and redundant, hierarchical strictures. The large group, in its early phases of existence, appears to be experienced as a bad conscience, a persecutory environment that is oppressive; the members do not feel free to breathe or inspired enough to express their thoughts spontaneously. The increased size of the group constitutes a learning situation opposed to an instinctual one, involving an emphasis on meaning as distinct from gratification or reality.