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The Individual and the Group

The Group has a Will

In the study of politics, public opinion and popular sentiment emerged as significant for choices by governments. Government taps into society's power, which springs from its culture and a poorly-defined common will. The crude and irrational quality of this will has often been identified: most famously by le Bon and Bion (see below).

As an individual, you are capable of using your will which means reflecting, using reason and indeed the whole panoply of creative potentials defined within the Taxonomy.

A group does not have that resource. When you are a member of a group, its will becomes dominant over yours. So each member's capacities are dramatically curtailed. Attempt to be cleverer than the group and you will be ejected. So belonging requires at minimum aware submission and supports a blind submergence of the self, especially if you are that way inclined.

Groups can function intelligently if they are intensely focused on a project with a schedule, and each member has component tasks to perform to deadlines i.e. operations as per the Tree of PH-L1s. However, note below that this is the only framework in which each person is on their own. While such a group is a team of individuals, not a crowd, it is still possible for its primary task to become submerged beneath primitive crowd-like tendencies should time-pressures weaken.

ClosedLe Bon: Group Behaviour & «Crowd Mentality»

Le Bon developed his ideas via a range of studies and drew on Freud's ideas. His findings anticipate those of modern psycho-dynamic investigators of group functioning. His views deserve mention because they were developed earlier, emerged differently, and have always had considerable influence on those who seek to manipulate the populace by propaganda and public relations.

ClosedBion: Group Task & Basic Assumptions

BionExperiences in Groups (1961) studied groups in which the task required exploration of its own functioning (with time boundaries but no specific time pressure). He identified three socio-mental complexes called basic assumption states, which intrude repeatedly and prevent the group focusing on its task in a sophisticated and rational way. These basic assumptions are:

These basic assumptions operate simultaneously with the work state driven by goals and personal wills (i.e. THEE)—much like the emergent frameworks operate simultaneously with endeavours-proper. However, the group members are largely unaware of what is happening or of being controlled by their own unconscious urges. The basic assumption states ignore external realities and may switch among themselves rapidly.

Two other basic assumption states have been suggested:

Handling the Group

The conception of these emergent frameworks is evident from the reversal of the dynamic duality. Instead of the social situation controlling higher Tree levels, you take control there. This control does not become a reality of the associated endeavours-proper. It is a feature of a personal mental attitude that can accompany and strengthen those endeavours when they appear to be failing. As explained, this attitude draws its energies from all Root Levels (i.e. ultimately from personal biology).

The relevant social environment is always a group or groups (organised or undefined) with a «group mentality» bubbling under the surface (as described above). The smallest group is 2 people, but you commonly deal with much larger groups. Neighbourhoods and small associations or firms range from a few to over a hundred persons, civic communities, associations, and large organizations many thousands, and society itself is counted in the millions.

In the 4 lower Trees, PH-L1s to PH-L4s, the relevant group is fixed—even if its members are chosen or even if you previously chose to participate. As you ascend the PH elements, the power of the group increases.

  Tree of PH-L1s using Performance
to Stop Avoidance.
For yourself, the group is any that may be about, like your family. In assembly line working, the group is the factory personnel and management. The group is irrelevant to your personal effort, except that it may inadvertently impede or disrupt you.
  Tree of PH-L2s using Certainty to Make a Project Succeed. The group consists of those who have to deliver the project with you and for you. You can choose members but once chosen, the group has its own will. You can replace individual members but not the group as a whole.
  Tree of PH-L3s using Acceptability
to Establish Ideas as Sound.
The group is a well-defined body or ill-defined crowd who are to receive your account. You may be a member before or after, or not. In any case, there is nothing you can do about the group's existence and power over your account.
  Tree of PH-L4s using Well-Being
to Restore Social Harmony.
The group with its divisions is one to which you belong at the time of the increase in tensions. You function within it and are also within one of its sub-groups. Your interests depend on those groups, and they typically continue without you.

In the 3 higher Trees, PH-L5s to PH-L7s, the relevant group can be changed. As you ascend, the degree of possible change diminishes until it only occurs in the mind.

  Tree of PH-L5s
using Understanding
to Affirm a Solid Bond.
Interpersonal relationships come into existence by choice, and are maintained by continuing choice. You are in part responsible for maintaining this unique group and have the power to replace it with another.
  Tree of PH-L6s using Autonomy
to Design Better Arrangements.
Contractual relationships arise from a promise and a work agreement, and continue so long as that remains valid and applicable. You have the power to modify the identity of that group subject to others agreeing.
  Tree of PH-L7s using Selflessness
to Repair Psychic Damage.
You experience yourself as embedded in groups that shape (or shaped) your identity, values and place in the cosmos. You have the power to alter your view of your groups, including how you relate to them and use them.

Matrix Summary

Viewing the 7 emergent Tree frameworks in order reveals a progressive change in the relation between You and the Group.

Better viewing: narrow or close left navigation column; use browser zoom if needed.

Tree Centres
Function for You
"Forcing" the Framework You & Group Power You & Group
Using Your
Psychosocial Pressure
Self Recovery
Psychoanalysis You can view your Groups differently. You must use reflection to appreciate where you stand in relation to any Group. Your Selflessness enables you to explore (PH7) the effects of your Groups on you.
Asserting Your Expectations
Change Consultancy You can modify
your Group.

You seek out a Group where a promise of desirable reciprocal interactions is definitive. You must bring your values (PH6) to bear on the Group by exerting Autonomy.
Resolving Interpersonal Differences
Psychodynamic Psychotherapy You can replace your Group. You are in a two-person group of your own choosing, that is managed via insight. You need dialogue (PH5) to gain Understanding of your self, the other and the Group.
Reducing Intra-Group Conflict
Holding a Group to Ransom Only Groups You represent the Group and deal with sub-Groups, ideally via win-win compromises. You must be tolerant (PH4) and generate Well-being for all in the Group.
Bypassing Social
Propaganda & Public Relations Group
You, as a messenger, are at the mercy of the Group, unless you shape emotions via charisma. By seeking Acceptability, you adapt (PH3) and can then handle the Group.
Refusing to
Give Up
Ambition-driven Leadership You
You, as leader, can create a vision that unites the Group that you need for your project. Your Certainty in the relevant knowledge (PH2) attracts others into your Group.
Overcoming Your Inertia
Assembly Line Systems Only You You are your own instrument, and no relevant Group exists. Your Performance depends on developing momentum to ensure your progress (PH1).

Initially posted: 20-Sep-2013

All material here is in a draft form. There will be errors and omissions. Nothing should be copied or distributed without express permission. Thank you.Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2018. All Rights Reserved.

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