From Savoir-faire to Savoir-vivre: Work Group-Play Group

All that has gone before us leads us to this point: Play.

Between the drive of the Id (It) and the Demand of the Superego (Over-I), we must form a desire. But as this desire is unconscious we know not who we are. We can agree to discover this. To join the special group of Analyst-Analysand in order to refine and sublime this desire by revisiting Id and Superego. What is left: an Ego. Better if we call it by its true name: the I. Where It was there I will be.

But if the analytic project is to go any further it must analyze itself. How will man change if we cannot count beyond 2 or 3. Surprisingly no groups – not even psychoanalytic groups – avail themselves of this practice. Freud and Jung built there work on the suspicion of the mass psychology of the group. Psychoanalysis is a theory and practice based on the unfinished individuation of the group. But very little has been achieved or written about the analytic group. Analysis in extension is a crucial idea but so far has accomplished little.

In order to make sense of this we will turn to the work of Wilfred Bion who undertook to develop a group analysis laboratory free from imposing previous theories. What he discovered was that underneath the overt goal of the “Work Group” was always an unconscious “Basic Assumption” Group. Those which he identified included the “Dependency” Group, the “Fight-Flight” Group, and the “Pairing” Group.

?. Group> Mode> Temporality> Relation> Awareness

E. Play> Desire> Timeless> Creativity> Free Associative

D. Work> Reason> Duration> Productivity> Cs

C. Pairing> Love> Future> Support> Unc

B. Fight> Hate> Present> Rebellion> Unc

A. Dependency> Fear> Past> Submission> Unc

It is my contention that these forms of group modalities follow a progressive individual and cultural development beginning with the infantile dependency group, following with the childish fight group and adolescent support group and finally finishing the adult work group which dominates modern neurotic society. What I am interested in is what is not in Bion’s findings: what lies beyond this: I call this the Analytic Group or the Play Group.

The Analytic Group

Whlie the basic assumption groups are dominated by the emotions of fear, hate, and love and the work group by reason, the analytic group operates through desire. While the basic assumption groups relate by submission, rebellion, and support and the work group by productivity, the analytic group relates through creativity, art, play. In terms of the experience of time the dependency group is conservatively stuck in the past, the fight group arrested in the eternal present emergency, and the pairing group always waiting for the future salvation. While the work group replaces this temporality with the experience of duration itself through work. Where however will this lead: to the timeless eternal of the analytic group. And here we can see where all of this is heading: toward Hegel’s unfolding of the Geist or Psyche through man. Yes just as Lacan had intuited, Psychoanalysis was the capstone practice of an ascent of man running from Plato to Hegel. The history of the West is the history of analysis. This is why Lacan calls Socrates the first analyst and why he framed his psychoanalysis as a non-dual dialectical enterprise which leads to three and beyond.

But the analytic group itself has not been able to move beyond two or three. Two in the practice of analysis between analyst and analysand. Three if you count the symbolic father or superego of the institution: schools, associations, licensures. This brings us to Sixties experiments of RD Laing at the Philadelphia Association, Felix Guattari at La Borde Clinic, and Fritz Perls at Esalen Institute, attempts to create group analytic spaces based on Freudian, Lacanian, Reichian and Existential Analysis.

D. Lacanian: Work Group = cartel work groups and production/invention

C. Jungian Pairing Group = messianic mystical mysterium coniunctionis

B. Reichian Fight Group = paranoia andrebellion

A. Freudian Dependent Group = conservative IPA structure

However the “Lacanian work group” points the way forward as the positions of Master, University, and Hysteric are exchanged for the position of the Analysand in passage to the position of Analyst. At which point the position of analyst and analysand are continued indefinitely in a new ethical and political group relation among sovereign beings. This takes analysis beyond the intention of the clinic into the extension of social transformation. This is in fact a “structureless group” in which there is no “tyranny” of master (or university or hysteric) for the existence of sovereignty which must remain is enfolded into each individual being and even more so into each encounter among beings, the relation between “sinthomes” forming a new political amorous group. This group has its foundations in Sade’s Society of Libertines, Fourier’s Phallanxes, Klossowski’s Living Currency, Bataille’s Headless Order, and Blanchot’s Unavowable Community. This is not a “commons” in which tyranny is smuggled in through the back door but a community with nothing in common.