The Social Nature of Persons: One Person is No Person

Author(s) : A.P. Tom Ormay

Part of The New International Library of Group Analysis series - more in this series

The Social Nature of Persons: One Person is No Person

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : 2012
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 240
  • Category :
    Group Psychotherapy
  • Category 2 :
    Psychoanalysis
  • Catalogue No : 30723
  • ISBN 13 : 9781855757721
  • ISBN 10 : 1855757729
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Group analysis developed out of psychoanalysis, but kept the fundamental principles of the latter. The classical structural theory of the personality comprises the id that is an ego-centred instinct, the ego that develops out of it, and the superego representing the influences of our guardians. It presents us with a lonely person, not a very useful image for group analysis. The recently discovered social instinct enables us to complete the structural theory, with an instinct based social function we call “nos”, Latin for “we”. The new human paradigm gives us the social person. We are together, not because we have to be, but because we basically like each other, various other feelings not withstanding. The “nos” provides us with the natural milieu to relate, and opens the way for solving the deepest human problems.

For a long time it seemed unscientific to say that people were social, because the altruistic person dies out and does not have the chance to propagate its kind. The selfish person is good at survival, therefore it seemed logical to say, that selfishness was wining over altruism. Later on it became clear that we cannot understand people if we look at one person alone. We live together. One person is no person. Animals also live in communities on their own level. After that it was easy to discover the social instinct, and the values in it. The social instinct provides scientific foundation to the theory of the social person.

This book explores this theory in depth and includes chapters on instinct and group analysis; the “nos” and the social unconscious; the phenomenology of the self and Ferenczi’s main principles

Reviews and Endorsements

'Tom Ormay is indeed a rara avis: philosopher, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and group analyst, he has produced a startlingly new concept, that of the "social self", a fundamental property of humankind, which is rooted in instinct. He calls it the nos, the "we", which co-exists with the "I", the individual ego. In so doing, he expands our vision of who we are. It is a concept towards which many thinkers have been groping, but which has only now crystallised in Ormay's writings. With a lightness of touch and a generosity of spirit, he has tapped a vast expanse of literature, including state-of-the-art biology, to bring his concept to fruition. His writing is infused with optimism and passion. He dispenses with the traditionally dry structures of learned texts and invites the reader to join him on a journey that is at once personal and immensely erudite.'
- Harold Behr, consultant psychiatrist, training group analyst, and former editor of the journal Group Analysis

'Tom Ormay invites us to travel into the philosophy of psychoanalysis and group analysis. He examines Freud's group thinking and its restrictions, Ferenczi's pre-figuring of aspects of group analysis in the 1930s, Elias' influence upon Foulkes, and Foulkes's outline of radical group analytic aspects that had outgrown psychoanalysis' tripartite theory of mind. He introduces us to nos as a substitute for superego and makes it the reason for developing egos to join others in nos, our elemental social function. In unfolding the concept of nos, Tom Ormay lays open a changed way of seeing ourselves in the world. He goes further than Foulkes's questioning of where the Individual came from; he points out ego's essentially isolated status, the "me-against-the-world" pitch that is endorsed by psychiatry as the sine qua non of social sanity whereas he hints that it is a madness to assert this. Instead he posits that nos provides us with a collective configuration that provides for the individual and gives him and her what as an Individual he or she otherwise lacks: a place in the world of people, and in the cosmos, thus avoiding the chaos of man alone and unredeemed.'
- Kevin Power, Consultant Group-analytic Psychotherapist for CNWL NHS Trust, London, and Principal Psychotherapist, Kent & Medway NHS Trust

'This excellent book is timely as, until now, we have not had the vocabulary to describe what the revisionist psychoanalyst George Klein called for fifty years ago: a word to denote the "we-ness/us-ness" that is fundamental to human existence. Ormay presents the Latin word "nos" to meet that need. He preserves but widens the structural tripartite psychoanalytic theory - id, ego, super-ego - with this fourth factor. This forges the essential but, until now, missing link for Foulkes's group analytic perspective that we are social to the core. At his own core, Ormay has philosophy, science, and psychotherapy. He writes clearly and concisely; he quotes beautifully from both English and Hungarian sources. He conveys the sweep of Ferenczi and the Hungarian school of psychoanalysis, which has given consideration to the social, cultural, and scientific factors for which Freud had not found place. The move to a psychology of the self, exemplified by Kohut and others, has enlarged psychoanalytic theory. Ormay now renders a similar service to group analysis.'
- Malcolm Pines, FRCPsych., DPM [dist.], past President, International Association of Group Psychotherapy, and former Consultant, Tavistock Clinic, London, and Maudsley Hospital, London

About the Author(s)

A. P. Tom Ormay has been a psychoanalytic psychotherapist for the last forty years and a group analyst for the last thirty years, in private practice. He has taught in the Royal College of Art and in Goldsmith College in London, and also in various professional institutions. Presently living in Hungary, he is teaching in the University of Physical Education Budapest, in the John Wesley Theological College Budapest, and in the University of Szeged. He is a member of the Institute of Group Analysis, London and the Group Analytic Society, London. He is the editor of the journal Group Analysis.

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