The group relations blogosphere (such as it is)

If you are like me, the very first thing you do when you need to learn about something is Google it. I do not know what I did before constant Internet access (which I’ve only had for about 6 years, BTW – I somehow made it to my late 20s without Twitter or Netflix). I literally do not remember how I went about my daily life without being instantly able to answer the question “What was Dougie Howser’s best friend’s name?” (Vinnie, in case you were wondering.)

So when I got this job I started looking for resources to learn about group relations online. There is a decent amount of information around – more to follow on that later – but what struck me was the complete lack of an informal online community.

There is a thriving psychoanalysis and psychotherapy blogosphere, mostly centring around Psychology Today. But if you google “group relations blog”, this blog you are reading right now is the second result. This isn’t because I’m so amazing that I’ve rocketed to the top of the group relations blogosphere, it’s because there really isn’t one. The group relations blogosphere is…me and Larry Hirschhorn.

I am only one person with one blog (on this subject anyway), so I can’t do much more than this to jumpstart a group relations conversation online, but I thought I’d compile a list of helpful links and so on to get you started learning about group relations. Then you can start your own group relations blog and we can get something going here.

So here are some helpful links… Continue reading “The group relations blogosphere (such as it is)”


Hate in the countertransference, part 2: Winnicott vs. Britzman vs. Freud

I feel I need to write this post in the form of an excel spreadsheet. Partly because I have spreadsheets on the brain right now, but also because there’s a lot of info, and when the only tool you have is “SUMIF”, everything looks like a conditionally-formatted cell.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONAL JOKE! This is like the time I put a joke about enharmonics in a show and like one person laughed. Sorry. I am trying to bring together the threads from the Winnicott paper and the Britzman presentation AND Freud’s seminal “A child is being beaten” and it’s making me a little giddy. Also I fell off my bike last week and slightly injured my left wrist so had to write the first draft of this post LONGHAND. With a PEN, just like the olden days.

Getting to the topic at hand, I wanted to bring Britzman’s discussion of the concept of transference in an educational context together with Winnicott’s exploration of hate and countertransference. I don’t know if using “vs” in the post title was entirely accurate, as they seem to pretty much agree (though I doubt Deborah Britzman would congratulate herself for not beating a vulnerable child, but times change). They both are on board with the idea that it is necessary to acknowledge that emotions that arise from either the teaching/learning or therapeutic context in order for an authentic relation to happen. I was thwarted in my quest for specifics, I think, because exactly what these emotions are and how they are expressed are highly context-dependent: they are determined by the complex relation of the individuals involved and their social environment. Continue reading “Hate in the countertransference, part 2: Winnicott vs. Britzman vs. Freud”

Hate in the countertransference

So as it turns out the famous analyst who stated that all analysts hate and fear their patients was Donald Winnicott; his 1947 paper “Hate in the Countertransference” explores the topic. This paper is freely available online [pdf] and is not a difficult read.

I’m going to riff off a couple of aspects of the paper in a moment, but first I’ll give you my overall impression. Whenever I read something old I find I am often jolted out of the work by some attitude or event that is weird, incongruous, or unacceptable by modern standards. Sometimes I can identify with the text completely; sometimes it’s like it was written by an alien. Continue reading “Hate in the countertransference”