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A sociohistorical view of group psychotherapy in the United States: the ideology of individualism and self-liberation.

Authors
  • 1
Type
Published Article
Journal
International journal of group psychotherapy
Publication Date
Volume
50
Issue
4
Pages
437–454
Identifiers
PMID: 11004768
Source
Medline

Abstract

A deep strain of individualism permeates American culture, rooted in the political-economic ideology of capitalism. The ideal of a self-governing individual is promoted, independent from social, historical, and cultural forces, whose thoughts and emotions are located within the construct of a masterful self, ready to be filled and expanded. This article traces the influence of self-liberatory ideology in American group psychotherapy through the religious revivalist and Mental Hygiene movements. The "progressivism" of pioneering group theorists is examined in terms of revisionist psychology and self-liberatory practice. Psychodrama and T-groups are demonstrated to be precursors to the encounter group movement in which the belief in self-liberation reached its zenith. Early group analytic approaches are seen to eschew transpersonal and group dynamic processes.

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