Some celebratory remarks concerning the New International Library of Group Analysis (NILGA) and several books recently been published in it. By Earl Hopper, PhD

Posted on Nov 13, 2017

Speech from the 17th International Symposium of the Group Analytic Society International  Berlin, 15- 19 August 2017

As the Editor of the New International Library of Group Analysis (NILGA) I am very pleased to help launch several new books, perhaps especially because I am a co-Editor of one of them and a co-author of chapters in it, and have also been extremely involved in the preparation of the final drafts of the other two books.


Introduction: Being in Berlin

I have been preoccupied throughout the week with my impression that somehow and for some reasons, which I presume are mostly unconscious, no spaces have been structured into this Symposium for collective/public mourning. I would have thought that a GASI Symposium in Berlin would acknowledge formally the importance of mourning processes, and do so explicitly, not only because there is a continuing need to mourn losses associated with World Wars 1 and 2, but also because there is a need to mourn by so many refugees in Germany today, and actually for several decades.

Of course, until recently such refugees have been called “economic migrants”, whereas now it is acknowledged that they are also survivors of a kind. (This idea was developed by Hanni Biran in her Plenary Lecture about what she calls “invisible refugees”.) The irony is that we are in a city of monuments of various kinds by which many of these losses are concretised, and witnessing them might actually make authentic mourning more difficult. Still, upon further reflection the entire Symposium might be a space within which we have been enabled to make creative use of traumatic experience and to mourn the losses involved.

Perhaps the recent discussions in the GASI Forum about the importance of a full 90 minutes rather than 75 minutes for our daily experiential/home groups has been more about the unconscious anticipation of the need to mourn, rather than about problems with conference authority, who is blamed for depriving us of fifteen minutes from our experiential groups. However, it is also possible that some of this negativity was based on envy of the authors whose work is celebrated during these lunchtime “launches”, which is said to have taken time away from the experiential groups. We know that envy can be directed towards those who have the right to be mourned and to mourn, to be celebrated and to celebrate, and to receive compassion and admiration. In the case of writing and publishing, this is confusing, because many authors have made creative use of their own traumatic experience.  I would add that despite the widespread impression to the contrary, it is not necessary to be either a Jew or an Israeli in order to write and publish.


For me, the work of editing is a kind of religious activity, involved with the liminality between life and death, the transition from one sacred space to another, often associated with rituals which mark the recognition of boundaries between states of being.  An Editor is in some ways very much like a priest. This is not dissimilar from a psychoanalyst or group analyst. An Editor guides the transformation of one state of reality into another. He officiates over what Bion called “Caesura” between an impulse to narrate and an eventual act of communicating, between a precept or even a concept – if not yet a full idea, and an eventual concretisation of it through language, which is then deconstructed again and again by the readers.

The contents of a book are then communicated among people in their everyday language and through the maintenance and development of their everyday relations.  This might also involve participation in the publication process with respect to production and marketing, and by trying to get good reviews for the offspring of this intellectual intercourse. It might involve trying to arrange for their respectful “burials”. An Editor often helps his authors promote their books by encouraging them to lecture and teach. After all, our common ground must be enriched by the transformation of a season’s produce into humous. This goes on for ever and ever.

I began to think about this when Haim Weinberg and I started to write the Epilogue to the third volume of our trilogy about the social unconscious, to which I will return in due course. We were wondering whether a new book is like a new-born baby with a full and healthy life ahead of it, or like a dead person whose body must be disposed of.  If the former, we might celebrate by “wetting the baby’s head”, but if the latter, we might have to arrange for a “stone setting”.

This mix up between celebration and mourning came to be associated in my mind with two Hebrew words that are both very different and at the same time very similar, perhaps unconsciously almost identical in their opposite connotations. As we know, opposites and oppositions can unconsciously convey identity and identifications, which are really a version of the juxtaposition of a sense of me and me-ness with a sense of not-me and not me-ness. I have in mind the two words “Kiddush” and “Kaddish”. (I do not speak Hebrew, so I hope that you will tolerate my arrogance in talking about a language in which I can pray but cannot order a meal. When I once tried to order breakfast in Tel Aviv, I completely confused a waitress as to whether I wanted a dog from my backyard or fish and chips).

A “Kiddush” is a blessing, especially with respect to bread and wine, which are regarded as holy gifts from God. It is associated with the end of a week of labour and the beginning of a sacred day of rest.  A Kiddush sanctifies a boundary between two separate phenomena. However, the related word “Kiddushin”, meaning marriage, implies bringing a male and a female together, which it is hoped will lead to the birth of a child. This can be seen in the ritual blessing of bread on the Sabbath involving holding two loaves together. Although this might be an example of the power of opposites which can be inherent in language, it would seem that the meaning of bringing objects together is connected with the need to keep them separate, and vice versa. The key implication of a Kiddush is the transition from darkness into light, which is yet another kind of “opposition”.

In contradistinction to a Kiddush, a “Kaddish” is a prayer and blessing for the dead, through which and by which they will be remembered. Saying the Kaddish is a way of connecting the living and the dead. Although their mortal bodies will disappear from sight, their immortal souls will continue to live in us and through us in our children, and our children’s children. If a Kiddush is a sanctification of keeping separate that which should be separate, a Kaddish is the sanctification of bringing together that which will be together throughout all time. The Kaddish celebrates the return of a soul to God, and a body to the Great Mother. Whereas the Kiddush implies a transition from darkness into light, the Kaddish implies a transition from light into darkness.

It is worth noting that although the words Kiddush and Kaddish share the root Kadosh, meaning holy, they differ from each other by only two letters:  the “i” of Kiddush is changed into the “a” of Kaddish; and the “u” of Kiddush is changed into the “i” of the Kaddish.  This transformation is “located” in the Hebrew language.  I use the term “located” in the group analytical sense: the communication is “contextualised” in time and space, with respect to all of the dimensions of all of the parts of the tripartite matrix.


A Kiddush for new books: The Social Unconscious in Persons, Groups and Societies

I would like you to join me here and now in making a Kiddush over three new books which have just been published in The New International Library of Group Analysis (NILGA). The first is entitled The Social Unconscious in Persons, Groups and Societies: Volume 3: The Foundation Matrix Extended and Re-Configuredwhich I edited with Haim Weinberg.

We have been influenced by Dieter Nitzgen, Juan Tubert-Oklander and Tom Ormay. I am particularly grateful to Dieter who has co-authored with me the first chapter on the tripartite matrix. He knows so much about the work of Foulkes, and has forced me to re-read it, and to appreciate it more fully than I did the first time around.

In this book you will find a discussion of the shift from systems thinking to matrix thinking in group analysis; chapters on non-verbal communication, specifically music; and chapters on “peoples” and their social unconscious, as well as chapters on the foundation matrices of specific societies.  We have emphasised Middle Eastern societies and the peoples of Israel, Palestine and Egypt.

The Table of Contents offers a good indication of what this book is about:

  •  Earl Hopper and Haim Weinberg
  • CHAPTER ONE: The concepts of the social unconscious and of the matrix in the work of S. H. Foulkes
  • Dieter Nitzgen and Earl Hopper
  • CHAPTER TWO: The fluid and the solid – or the dynamic and the static: some further thoughts about the conceptualisation of “foundation matrices” processes of the “social unconscious” and/or “large group identities”
  • Regine Scholz
  • CHAPTER THREE: The national habitus: steps towards reintegrating sociology and group analysis
  • Gad Yair
  • CHAPTER FOUR: The inner organisation of the matrix
  • Juan Tubert-Oklander
  • CHAPTER FIVE: The unbearable appeal of totalitarianism and the collective self: an inquiry into the social nature of non-verbal communication
  • Helena Klimova
  • CHAPTER SIX: The musical foundation matrix: communicative musicality as a mechanism for the transmission and elaboration of co-created unconscious social processes
  • Linde Wotton
  • CHAPTER SEVEN: The social unconscious of Israeli Jews: described and analysed by an Israeli living in North America
  • Haim Weinberg
  • CHAPTER EIGHT: “Black holes” as a collective defence against shared fears of annihilation in a small therapy group and in its contextual society
  • Yael Doron 
  • CHAPTER NINE: The social unconscious of the Palestinian people
  • Sa’ed Tali
  • CHAPTER TEN: “After the last sky”: Palestine, Palestinians, social memory
  • Martin Weegmann 
  • CHAPTER ELEVEN: The social unconscious of the Egyptian people: an application of some of the ideas of Bion and Klein
  • Mohamed Taha
  • CHAPTER TWELVE: Fundamental terror of ISIS: the story of a reversed family
  • Eran Shadach, Shulamit Geller Yoram Schweitzer, and Einav Yogev

Haim and I have begun to work on Volume 4 of The Social Unconscious in Persons, Groups and Societies.  It will emphasise the application of ideas about socially unconscious processes to clinical work, for example, the constraints and restraints of class, ethnicity and gender with regard to clinical processes. We are proposing a roundtable on this topic for the EFFP Conference in May in Belgrade, and for the IAGP Conference in August in Malmo.


Fairy Tales and the Social Unconscious: The Hidden Language

The second book to be launched today is entitled Fairy Tales and the Social Unconscious: The Hidden Language by Ravit Raufman and Haim Weinberg. Through the study of selected fairy tales, they have illustrated the difference between the collective unconscious rooted in the human species, and the social unconscious rooted in particular peoples and in particular societies. Ravit and Haim have reminded us of the continuing and eternal relevance of such admonitions as “do not bite the hand that feeds you”, or “eat your heart out”, which they understand as memes and living fossils.

Ravit has shown courage in her insistence that the concept of the social unconscious is inherently flawed and needs to be renamed. However, I would say that this is not quite so urgent if we take pains to refer to the social unconscious of peoples, to the foundation matrix of contextual societies, to the dynamic matrices of various other constituent of social entities, and to the personal matrices of people who are members and participants in these socio-cultural political matrices.  The key point is that these entities and processes are in a continuing dialectical relationship with one another, constantly contributing to the development and re-development of each as well as the whole.

Again, the Table of Contents of this book provides a good idea of its main concerns:

  • CHAPTER ONE: “Giving one’s heart” and “speaking from the bottom of the heart”: the case of the Jewish mother in Eastern European tales
  • CHAPTER TWO: “Asked for her hand” and the tales about the handless maiden: how is taking the hand associated with a marriage proposal?
  • CHAPTER THREE: “Living in her skin”: social skin-ego and the maiden who enters others’ skins in fairy tales
  • CHAPTER FOUR: Eyes and envy: reading Grimms’ One-eye, Two-eyes and Three-eyes and its Jewish parallels
  • CHAPTER FIVE: “I (do not) see what you mean”: the concrete and metaphoric dimensions of blindness in fairy tales and the social mind
  • CHAPTER SIX: “To step into someone’s shoes”: the tales about Cinderella
  • CHAPTER SEVEN: Fire of lust: passion and greed in fairy tales and the social (un)conscious
  • CHAPTER EIGHT: “To eat a crow” (swallow frogs): a story of decrees and humiliation
  • NOTES 
  • INDEX 


Group Analysis in the Land of Milk and Honey

The third book that I wish to mention is Group Analysis in the Land of Milk and Honey edited by Robi Friedman and Yael Doron, with chapters by their colleagues from the Israeli Institute of Group Analysis. Editing these chapters for the publication of the English translation of the book proved to be a most stimulating editorial task. One reason why this was such a challenge is that so many authors were involved. The two Israeli Editors Robi Friedman and Yael Doron functioned as intermediaries between me and each of the contributors. However, they kept telling me that they were protecting me from the authors, but I gather from the authors that they kept telling the authors that they were protecting them from me. As if I didn’t know! Nonetheless, it must be acknowledged that only Israelis have the “nerve” to argue about what the right word in English should be for a particular word in Hebrew, which might not even be the right word in Hebrew for what they were trying to say. In any case, through our work together Robi and I have come to understand each other. I have learned a great deal from Yael concerning tact, determination, and the art of persuasion. We have become friends. I look forward to my continuing collaboration with Robi and with Yael.

Another source of difficulty might have been the constraints and restraints of the Hebrew language in the context of modern Israel. The Hebrew version of Group Analysis in the Land of Milk and Honey was written by Israeli authors, I would suggest, for one another and for Israelis more generally. The authors assumed a context which gave implicit meaning to their arguments. Therefore, in order to stress and to give voice to the “universal and cosmopolitan” as opposed to the “particular and local”, I had virtually to re-write the chapters in English. It was necessary for Israeli authors to express themselves in a way that would be heard and understood by colleagues throughout the world.

Perhaps this can be understood in terms of a developmental shift from using a “mother tongue” to using a “father tongue” (Doron, 2017). Translation might even be experienced by an author as an attack on his/her representations of the mother tongue.  Translation is like an interpretation seeking to connect one socio-cultural-political space with another. Perhaps translation involves what in another context Anna Freud (1967) called being “lost and found”.  She was concerned with refugees and Shoah survivors, especially child survivors.

This process of having been lost and having been found, and of losing and finding more generally, is associated with processes of mourning and melancholia. As Foulkes (1990) noted, Helen Keller became aware that in her acquisition of language she also lost certain mental, emotional and even sensational representations of objects, or at least certain aspects of them. “Lost in Translation” is also the title of a very interesting book (Hoffman, 1989) and of a film by Sofia Coppola (2003).

Yet, another reason for the difficulties in translating and editing Group Analysis in the Land of Milk and Honey was so difficult was that what Robi calls “the soldier’s matrix” was the canvas on which the work of this book was painted. Milk and honey were transformed ironically from a pleasurable source of nourishment to an appreciation of what continuously threatened to be lost. Were the authors unconsciously engaged in rescuing themselves from the unbelievably heavy burden of “working in the negative”, to use Andre Green’s notion? Certainly, they were obliged to write mainly about using group analysis to rescue themselves from and to make creative use of massive social trauma associated with continuous military activity, the Shoah, and continuous waves of immigration precipitated by continuing anti-Semitism around the world. It would seem that the land of milk and honey is also the land of the visible refugee!

Slowly but increasingly it became clear that my colleagues and friends, people who I feel to be so lively, creative, warm, sensuous and sexual, had minimised – if not altogether eliminated – these qualities from their written work. The metaphors of military manoeuvres overwhelmed the metaphors of sexuality. It was necessary to recognise that our authors had sublimated their impulses and fantasies of fecundity, fertility, and birth into their written work.  Once we were able to acknowledge the sheer pleasure of our creative work together, our collaboration became easier and smoother. We could “work in the positive”

Undoubtedly, Group Analysis in the Land of Milk and Honey is a historical document concerning the birth of a discipline and the birth of an Institute. It raises questions about international collaboration and colonial relations.  It illustrates the collective use of a cultural object.  It is deeply reparative.  Above all, it is a book from which we can all learn a very great deal about the theory and practice of Group Analysis.

Again, a Table of Contents is of interest here:

  • INTRODUCTION by Robi Friedman and Yael Doron
  • CHAPTER ONE: The “ethical envelope” of the analytic group: some thoughts about democratic values implicit in group analysis
  • Miriam Berger
  • CHAPTER TWO: What is the “group entity” in group analysis?
  • Avi Berman
  • CHAPTER THREE: Leader, society, sacrifice
  • Hanni Biran
  • CHAPTER FOUR: Beyond Oedipus in group analysis: the sacrifice of boys in the social unconscious of the Israeli people
  • Joshua Lavie
  • CHAPTER FIVE: The group analysis of the Akeda: the worst and the best feelings in the matrix
  • Robi Friedman
  • CHAPTER SIX: The black hole in the social unconscious: a collective defence against shared fears of annihilation
  • Yael Doron
  • CHAPTER SEVEN: The immune system and group analysis: communication between “self” and “non‐self”
  • Nurit Goren
  • CHAPTER EIGHT: The group “not‐me”
  • Ilana Laor
  • CHAPTER NINE: On arrivals and departures in slow‐open group analytic groups
  • Marit Joffe Milstein
  • CHAPTER TEN: The group, the boundaries, and between
  • Hagit Zohn
  • CHAPTER ELEVEN: Combined therapy as a clinical tool: special focus on difficult patients
  • Pnina Rappoport
  • CHAPTER TWELVE: “Is there hope for change at my age?”
  • Bracha Hadar
  • CHAPTER THIRTEEN: “I still want to be relevant”: on placing an older person in an analytic therapy group with younger people
  • Eric Moss
  • CHAPTER FOURTEEN: The patient, the group, and the conductor coping with subtle aggression in an analytic group
  • Rachel A. Chejanovsky
  • CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Foreigner in your motherland, foreigner in your chosen homeland: Jewish cultural identity
  • Suzi Shoshani
  • CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Group analysis goes to academia: therapeutic approach and professional identity in graduate studies of psychology
  • Shulamit Geller and Eran Shadach
  • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Working with a multi‐cultural group in times of war: three metaphors of motion and mobility
  • Ravit Raufman and Haim Weinberg
  • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: Co‐constructing a common language: aspects of group supervision for the multi‐disciplinary staff of a psychiatric ward
  • Ido Peleg
  • CHAPTER NINETEEN: Analytic group for the children of the Holocaust and the second generation: a construction of belonging to the injured self through mutual recognition processes
  • Enav Karniel Lauer
  • CHAPTER TWENTY: The personal, group, and social aspects of dreaming
  • Gila Ofer
  • APPENDIX: The co‐creation of the Israeli Institute of Group Analysis: notes from the archives
  • Avi Berman, Miriam Berger, and Joshua Lavie


The Linked Self

I want at least to mention the recent publication of the book edited by Roberto Losso, Lea de Setton and David Scharff entitled The Linked Self in Psychoanalysis: The Pioneering Work of Enrique Pichon-Rivière. This is an important source of new-old ideas for group analysts.   I am sure that Pichon-Rivière’s notion of the dialectical spiral will become relevant in our continuing discussions of the tripartite matrix.  If the Editors were here I would be pleased to say more about what they have accomplished in their translation and in their critical commentaries.

Books in the pipeline include two on the group analysis of organisations, one by Christine Thornton and another by David Vincent and Aleksandra Novakovic; one on the homeless mind in contemporary society by John Adlam and Chris Scanlon; and one consisting of the selected papers of Richard Billow on relational group analysis. Several more books are in the planning stage, for example: the selected papers of Robi Friedman in several areas of Group Analysis; approaches to the study of large groups and convening them; the Collected Works of S.H. Foulkes; and so on.

It is very important for all of us to work together to ensure that these books are brought to the attention of our colleagues and general public. Although people persecute themselves with fantasies about how much money authors and editors make from such books, this is a displacement from the envy of the recognition and appreciation that each author receives. We must not collude with this.  Instead, we must help to educate our colleagues that actually the entire writing and publication process is a relational one, and it involves the dynamics of gift giving and gift receiving.  Of course, this brings me back to where I began: the constraints and restraints of monuments and memorials.


Earl Hopper, PhD, is a psychoanalyst, group analyst, certified group therapist, and organisational consultant in private practice in London. A Distinguished Fellow of the American Group Psychotherapy Association, an Honorary Member of the Group Analytic Society International, and an Honorary Member of the Institute of Group Analysis, he is a supervisor and training analyst for many psychotherapy organizations in England. He is alos a former President of the International Association for Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes (IAGP), and a former Chairman of the Association of Independent Psychoanalysts of the British Psychoanalytical Society.

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