Saturday, May 29, 2010
Anxiety - a perception of a shared foe - is often a cohesive force which can hold a group together and people join it as a defence against such anxiety. I think however that groups themselves can also be the source of anxiety.
Being in a group leads to blurring between the self and others that, whilst giving the comfort of the 'Body', - effectively similar to neonatal comfort - also causes inner conflict. As the attachment of the self to the group increases, the sense of individual selfhood decreases, which leads to anxieties about integrity and hence a 'true' and 'false' self. This I think is prevalent in groups having a strong sense of corporate identity, like churches with a sharp, almost unyielding doctrinal position. The true self is masked behind a facade of self acceptable to the group - a false self, in other words. Someone posted elsewhere that when one's foundation is neither stable nor reliable it separates seemingly similar individuals into two groups - those who can tolerate the physical, emotional, and psychological ambiguity, perhaps more at home with a false self, and those who can't. 'Tolerate' in this sense would seem to mean discovering a mechanism - being resourceful emotionally - to help them deal with a potential but ever-present feeling of impending loss.
The image is from the Saatchi Gallery.