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Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego - Essay Example

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Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego

Group psychology is not concerned with group, as one could get the wrong impression by the name; on the contrary, it is connected with the individual who is part of the group, because every human being happens to be a member of many groups according to his environment and situation in life. "Group Psychology is therefore concerned with the individual man as a member of a race, of a nation, of a caste, of a profession, of an institution, or as a component part of a crowd of people who have been organised into a group at some particular time for some definite purpose (p.3)1. Group psychology is only the sum total of all the individual psychologies belonging to that particular group.
Freud was of the opinion that the crowd, a gathering, or a mass of people, can reflect different psychological dimensions than loose individuals. Those dimensions need not be part of their daily life. They might surprise themselves by exhibiting totally alien behaviours, which are more in step with the group, and have less to do with their individuality and identification. He says that an individual could be brought to a condition where his personality traits are totally lost and he would commit uncharacteristic deeds on being suggested. A group is always more susceptible to influence, and it could swing dangerously without any regard for personal gain. "While with isolated individuals personal interest is almost the only motive force, with groups, it is very rarely prominent," (p.17).

Group can create an unusual influence on the individual's mental activity so that his emotions are extraordinarily intensified and sometimes it inhibits the intellect and rational factors. He says that if an individual gives up his identity and becomes a part of the group, he does so, because he feels the need of being in harmony with others. There is a kind of bonding in a group, which might compel an individual to be carried away instinctively. "that a group is clearly held together by a power of some kind; and to what power could this feat be better ascribed than to Eros, who holds together everything in the world" he asks.

Libido, as Freud sees it, is an emotional form comprising all sentiments that come under 'love' with sexual union as its aim. It can contain self-love, love for parents/children, friendship and general love for all and animals, or nature, because all tendencies are part of 'an expression of the same instinctive activities which might result in various kinds of relationships'. The soul of the mass is another kind of libido, which emotionally binds the individual into the group and each individual usually feels the same and this libido becomes the mass soul that compels all the likewise members of the group to feel and emote identically. Another most important factor here is the leader of the group who "stands in the relation of a kind elder brother; he is their father surrogate" (p.43). Freud theorises that the same group essence could be found in the libidinal ties of panic phenomenon that exists in the military groups. This collective dread can happen "either owing to an increase of the common danger or owing to the ...Show more

Summary

Thus the group appears to us as a revival of the primal horde. Just as primitive man survives potentially in every individual, so the primal horde may arise once more out of any random collection" Dr. Sigmund Freud (1921).
Sigmund Freud, perhaps the greatest phenomena in the psychological world, has covered almost all the aspects of human behaviour including the mass/group psychology, which is of immense importance today, to study the mass mentality, charisma of a leader, or how people could be aroused by acute nationalistic, fanatical, religious sentiments when they are in a crowd…
Author : marksbernard
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