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Følelsesprosesser: W. Bion

Strategies of Influence

Managers with a psychosocial understanding, have strategies of influence, or of control and socialization, to handle psychosocial phenomena at work. They influence the social aptitude of their supporters as measures for overcoming fighting spirit and indifference. In the coming pages some reflections on Wilfred Bion Experiences in Groups.

Forms of Reaction

According to Wilfred Bion there exists, in all types of groups, two dynamic reaction forms: work and emotions.

A Work group work out "realities" using members' specific information and past experiences to solve problems. On the surface a working is case-oriented. Beneath the surface, participants feelings can reveal how effectively the group works. In addition to case-documents, participants in a group have feelings both to the problem the group works with and towards each other.

Bion concentrates on the following psychological processes: Pairing, Dependency and Fight/Flight. What does pairing according Bion?

Pairing Group
Pairing occurs when personal and intimate relationship are developed between two members or two groups. Members understand each other's feelings and find that they are not helpless when they work together to deal with issues that occur. Pairing between two individuals may be misunderstood by others. Bion emphasizes that relationships are established for purposes other than just sex, as is often mistakenly believed by anyone other than those involved. "If the basic Assumption about the pair Is that They meet together for purpose of sex, what is the basic Assumption in a group about people who meet together in a group?" (Bion 1961).

A group controlled by dependency (Dependent group) is immature and inefficient. A typical reaction when it encounters difficulties, is to escape to something or someone outside: the legislation, a set of rules, the opinions of others, an authority or a specialist. Satisfaction lies in mental dependency, and is bound to the feeling of inadequacy and frustration. Power flows from the magic, not from knowledge, and the group needs a reference. They entrust their problems to a "omniscient leader." They structure themselves in dependency to avoid the emotional experiences of Fight/Flight group.

For this group, escape is mechanisms for self-preservation. Kamp has aggression as the underlying feeling: to attack a person or system. This is how battle for ideas, opinions or leadership occurs. Escape is to run away from difficulties, whether physical or mental, look out the window, dream, derail the conversation. Fight-flight group sees its security in a framework of self-sacrifice. It is not the feeling of security that is important, but the frame where the feeling is kept intact. In Flight cases, the individual is entrusted to herself, because the group wants to survive. Managers must realize group's needs for Fight or Flight with instant gratification.

Forces behind Bion's psychological processes

It is important to be aware of the forces behind Bion's psychological processes, so that none of these forces will dominate and destroy the group's activities. In a process, the time factor is not present. Emotions are active before the group comes together in a room or a meeting, and continues after the group dissolves. The more a group communicates via underlying emotions, the less it will be able to utilize verbal communication. An effective workgroup understand the symbols involved in communication. A group controlled by underlying emotions lacks this understanding.

Leadership Characters

The psychological processes of pairing, dependency and fight flight, create certain leadership figures. It is not necessary to give the leadership role to a person, it can be linked to an idea or to a not living object. Within f. Ex. dependency group, can group history be the "leader". A group that is not able to remember what happened on an earlier occasion, start writing a record of its meetings. This creates the "manager" they refer to if a dispute arises.

Bion's psychological processes have their drawbacks:

Fight-Flight group carries in itself a lack of understanding as a technique. However, in any workgroup efficiency must be based on understanding. When dependency or Fight-Flight feelings predominate, this suppresses new ideas.

In a group characterized by Dependency, new ideas are a threat to the dependent leader. In pairing-group the idea or the person is equated with an unborn genius or Messiah. Therefore it must remain unborn to that the function of pairing can be completed.

The conclusion is that if a psychological form of feeling predominates in a group, this destroys the idea of development, which itself depends on understanding and communication.

Bion's psychological processes still has their advantages. Emotional responses can, when not dominating, help a group in certain situations.

Fight can sometimes stimulate group commitment and creativity. Flight from a situation can lead to productive work in other directions, while the group has time to maturation.

Dependency can be legitimate if the group's expertise is insufficient. Starting with an outer authority, or rules and laws, may at times rescue the group. Individual needs are otherwise dependent on the group's mental state at a given time.

Source: Experiences in Groups and Other Papers. London: Tavistock Publications Ltd, 1961. SBN 422 72550 1

Bion's psychological processes tells about how efficiently a group works. Another instrument to influence relationships between group members is Johari-Window.

Use the Internet to find more about Johari Window, and the four routes of this window


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