chapter  3
58 Pages

Threats to identity in the large group

A study in the phenomenology of the individual's experiences of changing membership status in a large group 1
WithPierre Turquet

This chapter describes a consultant's personal experience of working with groups of 40-80 people, and attempts to explicate some of the phenomena which lie behind the structures usually deployed in such groups, such as chairman, rules and procedures, and fixed topics for debate. The basic notion, then, is the presence of a dynamic interaction between large group and members, an interaction in which all events, whether nonverbal or spoken, are an expression of a process which is there to be understood. A dislocation which may in the first instance appear acceptable all too easily becomes an experience of disarroy and alienation. If secure in his external boundary he can begin to establish an internal or intrapsychic boundary which by its very purpose — and hence availability for content-containing purposes — helps to delimit the seeming vastness of the large group. Boundlessness is no longer such a threat to survival.