S. Freud described society, mob, army and church, but never wrote about therapy groups. Malcolm Pines writing on Freud’s attitude to groups, relates an incident which occurred in the 1920s. Freud uses research into primitive tribes and neurotics in order to provide a backdrop against which the horror of incest assumes its full significance. Freud speculates on the nature of the changes wrought by the group upon the individual. This question arises because Freudian psychoanalysis finds it cannot explain inner life without some kind of recourse to the external world. ‘Group ties’ is Freud’s attempt to explain how the group can have such a marked influence on the mental life of individuals. Freud made the case for a primary, vertical tie to the parent based on idealisation, and horizontal ties of affection to peers. Freud identifies and unravels an apparent contradiction: where a powerful impetus has been given to group formation neuroses may diminish and at all events temporarily disappear.