Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

Assignment 1: Group Processes and Stages of Formation
In a 2-page paper, address the following:

Explain the group’s processes and stage of formation. (video transcripts attached)
Explain curative factors that occurred in the group. Include how these factors might impact client progress.
Explain intragroup conflict that occurred and recommend strategies for managing the conflict. Support your recommendations with evidence-based literature.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

Part 2

 

IRVIN YALOM: This is the same group about four meetings later.

 

JULIUS: Good to see everybody.

 

TONY: Good to be back.

 

BONNIE: Good to see you.

 

STUART: You look well, Julius.

 

BONNIE: You do.

 

JULIUS: Yeah? Well, I'm feeling not too badly. Have you been--it's interesting, Stuart, that you commented about that. I appreciate that.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

STUART: I think that we all think about you quite a bit. And your situation.

 

JULIUS: How do you feel about that?

 

STUART: A little nervous. It's difficult. And I believe we said several weeks ago that we were going to try to talk about that a little bit more directly. And I don't know that we have.

 

PAM: I think I have seen a lot of different words around Julius' illness, situation. Everybody seems to--how do you feel about that, Julius?

 

JULIUS: I'm not sure about your question, Pam. What are you asking me?

 

PAM: Julius has cancer and that is devastating. And somehow we tend to use different words. You just used "situation." I have heard other people say "illness." I want to check in with people.

 

TONY: I'm fine with whatever we say as long as it's not confusing.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

JULIUS: You have been feeling confused?

 

TONY: Just sometimes I don't understand what everybody is talking about. I don't know how to put it. Always on the spot. I don't want to talk about it right now.

 

JULIUS: You say you don't want to talk about "it" right now. What's the "it?"

 

TONY: Sometimes, especially recently with Philip, he uses a lot of terminology that is difficult for me to understand. It's just hard to put my head around things sometimes. I just feel dumb sometimes. But you guys know that.

 

REBECCA: No.

 

PAM: Tony, sometimes you say the most straight from the hip, pivotal thing to people.

 

TONY: That's good to know.

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REBECCA: And I think it is hard for all of us to wrap our minds around somebody who has cancer.

 

TONY: Yeah, I think I was just saying that whatever the word is, like melanoma, malignant, things like that were just kind of always--it took me awhile to kind of get my head around it.

 

JULIUS: Well it has taken me a bit of time to get around it, too.

 

TONY: I bet.

 

JULIUS: And I--I'm glad in some ways, Stuart, that you led the meeting off with asking me about that because, as we have been talking this last while, for you to go to feelings is not an easy thing. What is it like for you to tell me that you are concerned about me?

 

STUART: Well, I am. I'm definitely concerned. I know we all are. And this group is certainly a place where we can come to talk to one another and I worry about that being upset. And I also know that you are responsible for bringing us here together. So I have a lot of gratitude.

 

JULIUS: Concern. Gratitude. Feels good for me to hear. Obviously I want to know that what I do is of value.

 

TONY: Helps me out a lot. Well, you know, all of you help me out a lot. But like I said a few sessions ago, just, I don't know, without this group I wouldn't have a touchstone to be able to kind of vent or have just a place to kind of depressurize, you know? This is good. It's simple.

 

JULIUS: Simple?

 

TONY: It is just easy here. Not easy. What the fuck am I trying to say? I feel like I get to come here and work on just letting out things that are pent up or hearing other people let it out. And for me that is like, I don't know, it adds something because it's like I am learning from all of you how to do that better. Sometimes I feel pent up.

 

JULIUS: How has Tony been doing?

 

STUART: Well, if you remember early on in our time together, Tony seemed to be getting in fights a lot. That hasn't happened for awhile, so that's good.

 

REBECCA: We have also been confronting people about their own shit, which has been really good. Like Philip a couple of weeks ago who wasn't, who isn't responding a lot directly, and you confronted him on that, and I think that was really important.

 

TONY: Speaking of which, she just said he didn't and then he isn't. How does that make you feel, Philip?

 

PHILIP: I am wondering if you are accurately interpreting my actions. I don't pretend to behave in a manner that is normal for everyone else. This is part of what makes me an individual and unique human being. It is part of what makes me myself.

 

So please, I would suggest you to listen to my words and this should accurately reflect my position in the group and my place and the contributions that I am making. That I don't engage your eyes is not that my eyes aren't engaged, they are just engaged inwardly.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

TONY: Inwardly. Because I just ask because she is saying that you aren't being engaging, and sometimes you aren't. I mean you shoot your philosophy to us often enough and it's helpful. But you just seem really cold sometimes, you know? And I think that affects all of us here.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

PHILIP: You find that coldness discomfiting?

 

TONY: I--yeah. REBECCA: I'm personally, to be candid, wondering how in the hell you picked up girls in bars. Right? I'm not trying to take a jab. I'm just--who are you, compared to--?

 

PHILIP: Well, first of all I am not that same gentleman. The person that I became thanks to the great works of the philosophers that are my guide, was the one who I was allowed to develop this disattachment which I am finding that you are misunderstanding. It is a way--Throwing your feelings out upon the ground for all to judge and look at is only one way. I have a different way of being in the world. And I feel it is, I think strongly, it has been of great benefit to myself.

 

TONY: How does that look?

 

PHILIP: How does what look?

 

TONY: The way you are being of great benefit to yourself? It just sounds like--I don't know, I almost feel a little bit judged at the way that we come to this group and we do express ourselves and you saying that there are other ways. Of course you have a different way.

 

STUART: But it does seem that Philip has offered many contributions that have been helpful to some of us. Whether you feel warmly about him as a person or not, whether I do, seems off the point a little bit.

 

TONY: Fair enough.

 

PAM: Yeah, but putting in philosophical interjections about things is not risk-taking at all for this person. This person has spent his entire life detaching from the world and, and has stated here--and this is what I don't understand, Julius--has stated here that his whole point of life is to not make contact with people. And yet he is in this group. I don't understand that, and I continue not to understand it.

 

I think it's fine to have philosophical statements, improve us and give us thoughts about how we might change, but what is that really doing?

 

PHILIP: What you criticize is exactly what I have to offer the world. If I may connect the dots for you. I am here as a student. What I am here a student of is to do Julius's job as a therapist, as a counselor, to advise others. My method does not happen to be of the same ilk. It is not the same method. That is how I am unique. That is what I have to offer the world--an objective, philosophical approach. It is not different and differences often are threatening to people and I understand that and I am prepared for the consequences. But I stand by my differences because I stand by this point of view as being the right one for me and for many others, as others in the group, Pam, have said it has helped them.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

JULIUS: How are people feeling?

 

BONNIE: I have a question to ask Philip, and I am curious about that your eyes are turned inward. And I wonder how you feel about what you see inside of you, because as we all felt you were such a help to us and then with the revelation of how you treated Pam, I wonder what you feel about yourself? Would you look yourself in the eyes?

 

TONY: Any guilt?

 

PHILIP: Many years ago I tore myself from the attachments of public opinion.

 

BONNIE: What about your own opinion of yourself?

 

PHILIP: My own opinion is based upon my intellectual analyses, my personal faculties, and I would not be here--If I believed I was behaving erroneously I would behave differently. So obviously I feel that this is a very helpful way for me to behave and I have the belief that I have something to offer to others.

 

JULIUS: Philip, I think you may be missing something here. People are not asking you--I think Bonnie is asking a question about how you make sense of your behavior toward Pam 15 years ago. Am I right, Bonnie? Is that what you were asking about?

 

PHILIP: It's no secret. I have addressed that I was a sexual addict 15 years ago. It is not something that I am proud of. Indeed, as you have noticed, I have worked very hard to develop how I am today, which is in a direct response to that addiction. And I am a little bit confused in some ways with the vehemence of Pam's reaction, since she went quite willingly into a social interaction with myself in which we interacted and went our separate ways.

 

PAM: We interacted and went our separate ways?

 

PHILIP: We did. Am I in error?

 

PAM: He just called the fact that he fucked me and devirginized me a "social interaction." I mean how cold is that?

 

PHILIP: Do you prefer the term "fuck" to "interaction"? Are yours more--how is "fuck" better than "interaction?"

 

PAM: You are talking about manipulating a girl of 18 who was not only just vulnerable to men but vulnerable to her teacher.

 

PHILIP: Behavior which I have since fixed.

 

PAM: And you manipulated that status and you took me and you had sex with me. And you not only had sex with me--

 

PHILIP: You had sex with me, too.

 

PAM: But you dropped me.

 

REBECCA: I'm feeling very uncomfortable.

 

TONY: Yeah, me too.

 

JULIUS: Track that. What is the discomfort about? Follow those feelings, Rebecca, Tony.

 

TONY: The last thing Philip said is you almost sound like you are not taking responsibility for being in that interaction with him then. You are saying he fucked you. I mean, everything that you said is about it being done to you, as if you had no will of your own.

 

PAM: well, it's very alluring when you are 18 years old and your older teacher comes at you and says the right things and does the right things, and all of a sudden you are dropped with having to deal with him in your class and your whole class future. The repercussions of that event tragically laid out for me for years. So, yeah, I want him to take some responsibility for this. And, yeah, I feel that this is not--I can take only so much responsibility. And what I am so angry about is that this man is not taking any responsibility and shows no remorse for his actions. Look at him!

 

PHILIP: Am I not taking responsibility?

 

BONNIE: Can you apologize to her?

 

JULIUS: What do you think about that? Don't respond to yes or no, Philip. What do you think about that as an idea?

 

PHILIP: The idea of apologizing. Well. I suppose I--I continue to go back to the situation. And I look at it, and, yes, there were certain power imbalances, as Pam keeps referring to. I was indeed the instructor of her class. And yet we had a mutually satisfactory--

 

JULIUS: You are answering something different than the question that has been posed to you.

 

PHILIP: Yes, how do I--Could you say it again, please?

 

STUART: Julius asked you how you felt about the idea of apologizing.

 

JULIUS: Thanks, Stuart.

 

PHILIP: It's not a question to me and my outlook of how I feel. The question is one--in my viewpoint of the world which I understand you don't accept--it is an intellectual consideration for me and I see that you don't appreciate that, but that is how I am different.

 

JULIUS: Philip--

 

TONY: You are avoiding the question.

 

JULIUS: Yes. I guess I am feeling even more, Tony, I appreciate Stuart, you Tony, you kind of pushing Philip. And I think you are kind of pushing my work forward, the work that I feel needs to be done. And I've got to tell you, I recognize in pushing this forward, I guess I am more and more aware of the passage of time and your not making, Philip, the best use of time. And time, because of what I am aware of, is becoming more and more precious. And I don't want to burden you with that but I feel I am not really being honest if I don't speak my mind about that.

 

And the way I kind of look at this, Philip, is that you spent the first half of your life addicted to sex, and the second half of your life addicted to not being addicted to people. And I'm wondering if there is any way for you to kind of create some more working space for you. And that is why I am harping on the issue of an apology--not because an apology is going to make this all pretty and nice, but to create some more working space for you. Do you know what I mean? Something between these two polarities.

 

PHILIP: If you could elaborate, actually, on working space would be helpful.

 

JULIUS: Can anybody help me out?

 

STUART: Well, it seems like you're saying that Philip is a little bit trapped between his behavior in the past and his current--what's the word you continue to use, Philip? Detachment? Disattachment, yes?

 

PHILIP: That acceptable.

 

STUART: From people which doesn't leave him--doesn't leave you a lot of room to make choices in how you are going to interact with people. Is that--?

 

JULIUS: That's perfect. It is kind of like you swapped on compulsion for another. Where is your free will? Where is your choice?

 

TONY: Are you looking for growth, if you are asking for working space? Do you want to grow into anything more?

 

PHILIP: I think I do understand what you are saying right now, and I just feel like--I think I am not being listened to or something, because all that is in my head is what I have said many times before. My growth--and I feel that I have made strides. If you had seen me before, and one person has, I am a different person. And my strivings and my growth--how can I see it as any other way but this that I have obtained with the help of the great philosophers, Schopenhauer, Kant, Nietzsche, etc, Plato--

 

I'm looking for growth. Indeed, I'm looking for growth. How can you say that I am not looking for growth? I am pursuing that growth at the expense of everything else in my life every single day. I go home and I read Schopenhauer and I read Kant. And what I am trying to do is obtain a higher level of my intellect. I would like to--

 

REBECCA: You are growing in one way, Philip. Growing intellectually and reading more books is not "growth."

 

PHILIP: I disagree.

 

REBECCA: You can disagree all you want but everything you are saying right now is bullshit. I'm sorry, but all she is asking for is an apology and an answer to a question. If you listen, she just wants to know--we all want to know--if you are going to just think about giving an apology and you go into this diatribe. You've said some really amazing things but right now all you are doing is avoiding the question.

 

TONY: And just a point of process. I don't think Pam--were you asking for an apology or was that Bonnie?

 

STUART: That was Julius. That wasn't Pam.

 

TONY: Okay.

 

GILLL: I think Pam was pointing out that he never had apologized.

 

PHILIP: I am able to apologize. If that is what is necessary, I will apologize.

 

JULIUS: Can you appreciate what it means for Pam to know that you understand the impact of what happened? Am I right, Pam, that that is important for you?

 

PAM: If I felt like he meant it. I just--I don't think he has changed. I look at this person and I see the same person that I knew when I was 18. Manipulative--I think he's manipulating the group. Impressing people with the things that he says, talking about a philosopher that is counterproductive to the group.

 

So I don't know what that apology would mean to me.

 

BONNIE: I understand your feelings, Pam, but I'm sorry, I wouldn't really want to apologize to somebody who just said that to me.

 

JULIUS: Say more, Bonnie.

 

BONNIE: I just think that, I feel like--Like Gill a couple of sessions ago, we had to be able to hear him and you have to be able to lay the groundwork in order for somebody to be able to say something they have never said before. And you have to be willing to try even if you are scared.

 

JULIUS: That is a really important statement for you to make.

 

BONNIE: You have helped me to make that statement.

 

JULIUS: I'm not going to take credit for it away from you. That would be cheapening what you have just done. I think you are really pushing your envelope. I think it's an important point. It is an important point because of your feedback to Pam, and it is important because you are out here. And I am so glad you didn't end by saying "I'm sorry" or "I'm not sure about what I am saying."Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

BONNIE: I'm trying not to say it.

 

JULIUS: Gill, what do you think? Do you think Bonnie is on to something about Pam?

 

GILL: I would have to agree. I think Pam is still sort of the Supreme Court justice, still maybe only judging.

 

STUART: I would just like to throw out, Pam, you said a minute ago that you didn't see any change in Philip from the man you knew 15 years ago. And it seems clear that, as Julius just said, maybe all he has done is trade addictions, but that is certainly a change, isn't it?

 

PAM: That doesn't count as a change to me, not for what it would mean to me. Not what it would mean to other women. How many women? There was a list of women that he kept, that Molly, my very good friend, found. A list of all the women and all the positions. I'm sorry, but that is really screwed up.

 

REBECCA: But Pam, do you expect him to call every one of those women and apologize to each and every one?

 

PAM: No, and I don't expect him to be in the same therapy group as them, either.

 

BONNIE: That's true.

 

PHILIP: You accuse me of trading addictions for another addiction and that they are both the same. You say you would have objected as strongly had I read Schopenhauer to you.

 

PAM: I don't disagree that Schopenhauer is a wonderful writer. He is a wonderful philosophical writer. But in terms of adopting your whole life to being just like him, that is counterproductive in my opinion.

 

TONY: Pam, what do you want him to change into? You know, what would it look like for him to change? What would he look like? What would the qualities be?Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

PAM: I don't know where I can begin. He would look at people, for one thing. He'd own up to what he had done. He'd feel remorse. He'd start saying the word "I feel." I could go on all day.

 

PHILIP: I come back to fashion, and that many of the things that you cannot stand, that repulse you about me, I see as fashion. ten years ago everybody said "I think" and nobody said "I feel." What is that: progress or fashion?

 

JULIUS: Philip, how are you feeling right now? I'm going to ask you to put aside Schopenhauer because I am aware that both you, and you, Pam, have experienced a great deal of distress and are experiencing a great deal of distress right now. It's a lot easier for us, Pam, to see it with you. But I've got to believe that it is no less evident somewhere inside of you, Philip. And I want us to--I know it is not easy for you to keep coming here every week and face this barrage. But you have to recognize that you are doing some things here that are really inflaming the situation.

 

Now we can't change you, but we can give you feedback, and hopefully you will take that under advisement, your personal counsel to use your phrase, and see what you want to do with it.

 

You don't even need to respond right now. It might, in fact, be even more productive if you just thought about it for a moment. I am aware also that we have been giving this a lot of time and there is other stuff that we may need to look at today. I'm also conscious of the fact, Stuart, that you commented about the group's concern about my cancer. And I want to make sure that if that is on somebody's mind that we can speak to that, too.

 

TONY: It's always on our mind, I would think.

 

BONNIE: Yeah.

 

TONY: We've got a lot out of this process. I would even say we care about you. At least I care about you. And I think about it. It makes me think about my own mortality a lot, too.

 

PAM: Julius, you know how I feel. You're the best.

 

REBECCA: Of course we all think about it. We're here every week.

 

TONY: It's kind of like an elephant in the room.

 

JULIUS: It's kind of like a what?

 

TONY: An elephant in the room. Not that you are an elephant.

 

JULIUS: You mean it is so prominent but we're not speaking about it. Well, I'll tell you how I would like us to speak to this. And that is that I think what happens here is precious. And I would like us to make the best use of our time together. I don't want this group to end, but it's going to end. We have a number of sessions left. I think I am going to be able to fulfill my commitment. But when this group ends, I want us to have as few regrets as possible about what we did together. It is not usual for me to speak like this, so I need to check that out with you and see how you are experiencing me. But I think it is the best way I know of dealing what I'm dealing with.

 

So when this group ends, I would like for you guys to have as few regrets as possible about what we've done. And I've got to confess Philip, maybe that is part of what is driving me with you. But in some ways, only because you have been so stuck, and I see other people making real movement.

 

PHILIP: Julius, if I may.

 

JULIUS: I appreciate you calling me Julius. That's not usual.

 

PHILIP: I want to ask a question about the process that I am here to be studying. We all have been revealing parts of ourselves, and there is a mutual give and take. And as a future person in your shoes, I can't help but comment that I feel that you have not commented yourself upon--I can't tell if you are being forthcoming or not about your cancer. You spoke about the group's concern. I did not hear you commenting upon your own personal concern. Julius, how am I supposed to behave in the future as a therapist, is where my mind is headed.

 

PAM: I feel that this is a personal attack. This is really unfair. You as the therapist shouldn't have to reveal anything anymore or any less than you are.

 

TONY: I disagree.

 

REBECCA: I do, too.

 

TONY: Not that I feel you are being disingenuous. But how do you feel? Is it a concern?

 

JULIUS: Of course it is a concern.

 

PAM: He's in a really difficult decision.

 

REBECCA: Well maybe it would help him, too.

 

JULIUS: I don't want to avoid the question, but do you know what just struck me, Pam, is that you are always quick to look out for me. I feel that you don't give some of the other men in the room a break, but that you are always looking out for me. There is a part of me, obviously, that likes that, but another part of me that says we've got to make sense of why that is.

 

STUART: I feel that way.

 

TONY: Yeah.

 

PAM: Julius, I just--You are a great guy. Every man should be as great as Julius. I don't know how to respond to that. I don't think that that's my problem. You know, I'm just seeing it as it is. You know?

 

GILL: So the rest of us aren't valid?

 

PAM: I didn't say that. If I didn't think you were valid at all I wouldn't say anything.

 

JULIUS: Gill, if that look had words, what would you say when you just turned to Pam?

 

GILL: The look she gave me or the look I gave her?

 

JULIUS: Both.

 

GILL: I think the look she gave me said, "No, you are not valid." She was even silent along with it. I'm still scared of her.

 

PAM: See, that's not my problem. Why should that be my problem? If Gill hides something from us for weeks and weeks, he gives us this whole other story about Rose and we really empathized with him. I feel cheated. I feel like I don't know who this person is. I think it is great that you've finally come and out said what you needed to say. I think it is great.

 

TONY: Do you think it is valid?

 

PAM: Of course. I think it is valid.

 

JULIUS: So Gill, that is one half of the equation. What's the other half of the equation? Pam has responded. But I want to know what you were feeling when you looked over at Pam.

 

GILL: Like I said, just scared. Like she doesn't think I'm anything, and then when she gives me that look I think, "Hey, maybe I'm not."

 

JULIUS: And when Pam says, "Julius, you are the best," what is that like for you?

 

GILL: Makes me feel a little less of a person. Not that--I think you are great, too. But maybe we could acknowledge that the rest of the men in this room are in some way men, at least.

 

PAM: Have I not acknowledged that the men are men? It's just--it's frustrating.

 

GILL: Or insects.

 

JULIUS: I need to check something out with you because I am very concerned right now. Am I doing something that makes you need to tell me I'm great?

 

BONNIE: Sometimes. Julius, I feel like I want you to share with us, and then sometimes I don't want to know anything about you, because you are our leader. And if you can't do it, I can't do it.

 

REBECCA: I want to know more about you. I want you to share. Because I don't want you to be imperfect. Because he has problems just like we do.

 

TONY: That's tough to live up to.

 

JULIUS: You don't want me to be imperfect.

 

REBECCA: I don't want you to be perfect. You don't have to be perfect. You are great, but maybe you're not the best, you know?

 

JULIUS: I feel that I am sharing a lot with you guys every session. It is different. It is not historical information. I feel I am sharing something with you right now when I ask the question, "Am I doing something that causes you to tell me that I am great?" Because I've got to tell you, it makes me feel uncomfortable. It makes me concerned that I am not being seen in a fully three-dimensional way.

 

REBECCA: I feel like that a lot.

 

PHILIP: Julius, I feel that the question that I posed to you earlier, I'm coming back to. Could it be your avoidance of sharing like the rest of the group shares in the same manner that the rest of the group is strongly encouraged and sometimes badgered into sharing--is your lack of sharing, is that perhaps the thing that causes some members of the group to call you great? And should there be this difference between the role of the counselor and the role of the group members in group therapy? Is there a difference?

 

TONY: Really quickly before you answer, I just love that you said "I feel" at the beginning of that statement.

 

PHILIP: Did I?

 

JULIUS: It snuck out, huh? It's great Tony, that you caught that. I'm not going to evade your question.

 

PHILIP: For the second time.

 

JULIUS: But you see, Tony, you're able to do something with Philip that I think Pam can't right now, and that is see him as more than just two dimensions. And that is why I am concerned, also, about me being called "great." Because if I'm two dimensions on that side, it is not real. It is not human. And I want to be human here. That doesn't mean that I am going to tell you everything about me, but I am going to tell you what I feel right here with you guys about being here with you.

 

And I am concerned that if I'm great, and Gill feels like he is chopped liver, then that is not good for him, nor me, nor you, Pam. It's kind of like you categorize people. And saying that, you have been terribly, terribly hurt and injured by Philip, and your anger in many ways is justified. I don't want you to misunderstand me about that for one second. But your anger is something that I think is a very powerful force in your life. And I've been shielded from it.

 

PAM: It's just I can't see every man the same way. I mean, I can't give compassion--I just don't feel able to give compassion to Philip. And you know, it's fine. I can see, Gill, where you're coming from and maybe how you kept it from us. And that's just where you are at. That's, I guess, where you are coming from. But I can't just equally forgive everybody. We haven't even heard--I haven't even heard an apology from Philip.

 

TONY: Is that what you want?

 

PAM: It would be good for a start.

 

REBECCA: Well we left off with Philip saying he would think about it. So maybe he has thought about it.

 

TONY: And saying he was capable of an apology.

 

PHILIP: What I stated was that if an apology was necessary I am perfectly capable of offering one. And I shall.

 

REBECCA: That seems necessary.

 

PHILIP: I apologize.

 

REBECCA: For what?

 

JULIUS: You've got a chance, here, Philip.

 

TONY: Come on man, take a risk.

 

PHILIP: I--I am struggling at this moment because I don't see the world in quite the same way but I will try to interpret my differences into language you can understand. I am able to observe that I have caused you pain. And I do apologize for that.

 

You accused me of having no remorse. To me, I have shown quite strong remorse. Indeed, I have spent the past 10 years, the past decade and more, in correcting the very behavior which you say I have no remorse for. A daily dose of correction. If that is not remorse, I don't know what is.

 

That I don't profess myself in the same manner as you do does not mean that I show no remorse. To me the most effective way is by correcting my actions, and that I have done.

 

REBECCA: That's really good.

 

JULIUS: That is a powerful statement. You look like there is a fair bit of feeling still there.

 

PHILIP: I--I am not accustomed to this and--I'm out of my element.

 

JULIUS: You may be out of your element, but it feels a lot more real and accessible than when you are in your element.

 

PHILIP: Real and accessible, maybe. But, Julius, I am not sure I am a big fan of these--feelings. I chose the course--

 

JULIUS: I'm going to jump in Philip, because I don't want you to subtract from what you've just added. I want you just to kind of savor that. I'm also aware of the passage of time. And you said something, Rebecca, that I think we shouldn't miss. It seemed the idea of being two-dimensional, three-dimensional, kind of really captured you. You said something. Let's pursue that. I just need to check with you, Philip. Are we okay parking this with you here right now? Can we move on to Rebecca?

 

PHILIP: Yes, absolutely.

 

JULIUS: You sound, Rebecca, like someone who knows what it is like to be not three-dimensional. REBECCA: Well, Bonnie and a number of other people in the group have brought up quite a bit how I preen and how I flirt quite a bit. And how that's--well, that's all I am, because I think I am so beautiful and so popular and how wonderful that is. Well the reason I came into therapy with Julius was at the age of 30 people stopped looking at me and stopped commenting on my outside beauty. And you have really ridden my ass about that quite a bit.

 

And well the funny thing is that I don't think in this group that I don't think anyone has brought up anything other than the way I look, or the way you think that I think that I look, or the way that people look at me and the things I do to try to get men's attention because that's all I want.

 

TONY: I don't know if that's true. It seems like we focus on that, but that we're asking often enough what's the inner life. And I think we're trying to coax that out. Am I mistaken? That's what I sense when we are asking more of you. More than what--god, I always get tongue-tied. JULIUS: You are moving in a good direction, Tony. Stick with it.

 

TONY: Okay, okay. Yeah, it seems like we are asking you to look at more than your looks. You know? We're bringing that up.

 

REBECCA: Well I think you need something to look at, because they're going too. So I would like some direction in some point, in some way, of something I can look to--because I don't really want to look at anything in the mirror anymore.

 

PHILIP: I think, Rebecca, the group has been trying to tell you to look within. That there is something there that is of value and that, indeed, I have stated perhaps too often, that that can be the foundation for the rest of your life.

 

JULIUS: What do you see when you look inside, Rebecca?

 

REBECCA: There is really nothing there.

 

JULIUS: What do you see when you look in the mirror?

 

REBECCA: Nothing anymore.

 

JULIUS: Nothing inside?

 

REBECCA: Or outside.

 

JULIUS: What would you like to see inside? What do you wish was there?

 

REBECCA: Someone who could have girlfriends, and who was a really good mom to her kids. And who pursued things that she liked and didn't think other people wanted her to do a lot.

 

TONY: What are those?

 

REBECCA: Racquetball, of all things.

 

JULIUS: Racquetball?

 

REBECCA: Mm-hmm. I was never any good at it, though.

 

JULIUS: Being a good mom, being a good friend--those are things that you would like?

 

REBECCA: Very much so.

 

JULIUS: What is it like to hear that?

 

TONY: It sounds like a blanket statement. It sounds like you may have--isn't there any instance of that at all, of being a good mother or being a good friend?

 

REBECCA: I don't have any girlfriends.

 

STUART: I don't think she said she never does those things, but merely that's a goal that she would like to have more of.

 

JULIUS: Thanks, Stuart.

 

BONNIE: It is very profound for me to hear that and see, Rebecca, you get upset. I feel like beautiful people and popular people can sustain themselves. And I feel the same way that you do, and I guess that I don't understand that.

 

REBECCA: Why?

 

BONNIE: I always thought that we were just so different.

 

JULIUS: And you recognize that there is more that you have alike. What is that like, Bonnie?

 

BONNIE: It gives me confidence.

 

JULIUS: Confidence?

 

BONNIE: Uh-huh. JULIUS: So your work right now, Rebecca, is at least being helpful to Bonnie.

 

REBECCA: That's good.

 

JULIUS: What just happened? I'm afraid I can't see, Rebecca, your face. All I can see is the rest of your body language. What is happening?

 

BONNIE: I guess I don't feel so alone. I don't have to feel so jealous.

 

TONY: I would be so bold as to say it looked like friendship. You know?

 

JULIUS: You know, Tony, you have your own way with words.

 

BONNIE: Thanks Tony.

 

REBECCA: Thank you, Tony.

 

JULIUS: I said earlier that--Stuart, I hope I haven't evaded your question completely about my cancer. And we're out of time right now for today's meeting. But what I will say, what I do want to say before we stop, is that I feel very much alive right now working with you all in the way that you've been working today. And we'll see what next week brings.

 

IRVIN YALOM: We are going to go on for discussion, but before we start I would like to spend just a few minutes have each of the participants introduce themselves to you so we see who they are. Maybe you could say something about either your next performance, your next play, or your last play. But real quickly, let's run through that.

 

ALEX ASCHINGER: All right. My name is Alex Aschinger and I perform Friday and Saturday nights at the San Francisco Comedy College, which is over on Mason.

 

DEBORAH ELIEZER: Hi, my name is Deborah Eliezer. I'm a member of FoolsFURY Theater Company and I also produce a performing arts summer camp for kids called Swivel Arts, www.swivelarts.com. I'm a voice-over and an actor and a dancer and I will have Ben tell you about our next show. The first weekend in March is "Apartment" at CounterPULSE here in the city for those locals, so you can look that up on our website. Thank you very much.

 

BRIAN LIVINGSTON: My name is Brian Livingston. I'm also a member of the FoolsFURY Theater Company, and I'm about to work on a project with them in about a month or so. And thanks a lot for having us.

 

ANGELA BUSH: Hi, I'm Angela Bush. I'm the company manager of FoolsFURY Theater and we have some shows coming up which Ben is going to tell you about and also I am going to be in the "Vagina Monologues" which [Laylee] is directing and it is going to be at the Castro Street Theater March 9 on a Thursday. So please come, that would be wonderful. And thank you so much.

 

LAYLEE: I'm Laylee and I'm a member of the improve troupe that performs at the San Francisco Comedy College. I'm part of FoolsFURY which will be having a show in May--look for it. it is called " The Devil On All Sides." It is about the Serb/Croatian War. It is fabulous. I'm directing the "Vagina Monologues V-Day 2006." It is at the Castro Theatre, Ticketweb.com. Thank you so much.

 

MICHAEL SOMMERS: I'm Michael Somers. I will also be appearing in the "The Devil On All Sides." You can go out to see that theater or you can sit on your butts at home and watch the premiere episode of "The Evidence" starring Martin Landau and Orlando Jones, and I have a nice little co-starring role there. But what I really want you to come to the show, "The Devil On All Sides," but also the show that is my creation called, "Uncle Buzzy's Hometown Theater Show." I'm Uncle Buzzy and you get my wife's free homemade cookies instead of a ticket at the door.

 

BEN YALOM: And they're really good.

 

MICHAEL SOMMERS: I do the world's greatest chicken impression, too. So if that doesn't get you there, what will? Take a flyer for me or go to UncleBuzzy.org. BEN YALOM: I'm Ben Yalom. You may have recognized the slight resemblance. My father...I'm also the artistic director of FoolsFURY Theater, hence all of these people here. We are a local avant-garde ensemble. We do performances and training and camps all year long in the San Francisco area.

 

We do a lot of dance work and theater work and using things like masks and all sorts of physical things in addition to wonderful texts. We have an upcoming show not this coming weekend but the following weekend called "Apartment," three nights only. It is a company-devised piece starring Deborah Eliezer at the Counter Pulse. And then our big show coming up for the late spring is called "The Devil On All Sides." It will be at Traveling Jewish Theater where we are a resident company.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

It's a wonderful American premiere of a contemporary French play by an amazing playwright who will be in town for the opening. We are very happy to be performing it, and just a little nervous about spending the next two months full-time working on it and finding out what kind of wonderful creative things we are going to have. So please, check it out. The Web site is FoolsFURY, like Angry Clowns. FoolsFURY.org. And if you are in town, please come see us.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Okay, let me just give a free association about the meeting, and then turn it open to you all. First of all one of my thoughts when I first started thinking about Arthur Schopenhauer and group therapy is I wanted to get him in a therapy group and I wanted to do a historical novel, but it was impossible. I mean, he died 30 or 40 years before our field began.

 

I tried thinking of inventing a character, an ex-Jesuit, I thought, who was well-schooled in philosophy as Jesuits are. I wasted about six months on that. And finally gave in--I could not write a historical novel about Schopenhauer because he was the most isolated man I have ever encountered in history.

 

So then I gave it up, wrote another book, and came back to it and thought, "Well, I want to have Schopenhauer the person in the book, but I will have someone that is his clone," and that would be Philip. And you could go through, as I did in the book, you can get a whole list of--a misanthrope's manifesto. So many things about Schopenhauer would make you think he is the last person in the world to be in the group. He would say, "Distrust is the mother of safety." "Do not tell a friend what your enemy ought not to know." "Regard all personal affairs as secrets and remain complete strangers, even to our close friends." "We must never show hatred or anger except in our actions." "It is only the cold-blooded animals that are poisonous." "From the tree of silence hangs the fruits of peace."

 

On and on like this. So then I thought, well put him in a therapy group, that is the worst person in the world you can imagine in a therapy group. On the other hand, what a kick. If you could help Arthur Schopenhauer in a therapy group, you could help anyone.

 

So that was part of my motivation. Is there a way we can work in this group to actually change this person? Now, this group today for the first forty minutes or so was at an impasse. Philip was sticking to his guns and the group was working. Often in my novel, I have the group regarding him as a strange life form. They circle him, he says something, they don't know what to make of it, they're chewing on his words for a while.

 

But we went through a lot of that today, and finally the group, in a very different way than the novel, began to find a way to begin to crack through that. It was just the beginnings of it today. And in the novel I went through it in a number of ways. One of the ways I went through it was through Pam, through a number of members of the group revealing things about themselves, real major, what they thought of as misdeeds, sins, indiscretions, sexual indiscretions. Rebecca did it. She talked about a very brief--forgive me for saying this, Rebecca--but for a very brief fling as a prostitute one or two evenings. And others did a similar thing.

 

And even Julius talked about his sexual indiscretions. After his wife died he accepted some of the comfort of some of the relatives and friends of his wife's, and was sexually involved with them.

 

And who else? Let's see. Stuart talked about a major indiscretion when he was at a convention and feels that he might have taken advantage of someone who was perhaps rather disturbed, and he has never forgiven himself for that.

 

So a lot of these indiscretions came out. And then the point was that Pam forgave them all. She forgave, eventually, Gill for not telling about the alcoholism; and she forgave Seymour, and forgave Stuart. She forgave everyone. Then the pressure got even greater leverage on her. Why is it that she couldn't forgive? That was the beginning of the crack between the two of them.

 

She started quoting everything involved with Schopenhauer, and then she let it slip that she majored in Schopenhauer. And then suddenly Philip could say, "You majored in Schopenhauer? Well, that means maybe I wasn't such a bad teacher after all." And she would have to say, "Well I never said you were a bad teacher. In fact, you were probably the best teacher I ever had." And then the cracks began to come and the impasse began to break down. And so it was happening in this group as well, in an entirely different way.

 

And then you notice how the leader of the group here just kept storing things. There was work to be done in the impasse. He also had to assess when that work was enough for this group because you need other work to be done, too. He heard something that one person said, he heard something, for example with Rebecca, and he stored it, and he came back to it when he thought the time was right. We sometimes think of a theme building, and maybe a time of theme satiation.

 

Some therapists have trouble at that point, letting go of the theme. You drag on and on, and it becomes lifeless. So you have to kind of find a way to think, decide when there is maybe some theme satiation, and see if you can break in because there are other things waiting to be done in the group. And Gill, for one of them was something that he came back to. And he came back to Stuart, too.

 

And then they went into a final investigation of Rebecca. When I was a resident, there was an essay that came out--it's long out of print, I'm sure--by a man named Saperstein, called "The Beautiful Empty Woman." And it was just a lovely essay about the problems of the beautiful empty woman--the woman who is so beautiful that everything comes to her just because of her flesh or the way that she looks. And she never really has to do anything, and consequently often never has a sense of internal worth, internal values, internal skills. And that, in a sense, was what was happening for Rebecca.

 

So right at the end of the group that was beginning to open up. And I had the strong sense that this group was just mounting in power until we suddenly have to break. I would have to see the next meeting of this group and the next meeting of this group. It was just building up so nicely.

 

And the inquiries about his health, each time he would say I'm not going to dodge that, I'm going to go back to it, I'm going to talk to that. Time ran out today but we know he will do it at the next meeting because he can't, I think, say, "There are things I'm not going to talk about in this group."

 

Philip was pressing him a little hard about, "this is supposed to be"--in the novel Philip says, "Well, you are working on a kind of a Buber "I-thou" encounter except there is no I in there. You are letting everyone else reveal themselves. There was a whole period of time with a lot of self-revelation. Why aren't you revealing?"

 

And then Tony caught the question. How come you are asking that now? After all, here you were, this great philosopher in the group. Pam came into the group and showed the group you were living in the sewers for a long period of time, so maybe you need to knock Julius off his perch as well. And that was part of the reason why he kept prodding Julius to reveal.

 

So that is what I was seeing and feeling about the group. What questions do you have about this that you'd like to talk about, or comments or questions to any of the people that are in the group? AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: Are you suggesting, with a topic as crucial as the impending death of the therapist, that it would not be talked about thoroughly?

 

IRVIN YALOM: Oh yes. I am not suggesting that. It needs to be talked about thoroughly, and it would stymie the group if it's not. And it can never be talked about thoroughly enough. The problem, of course, in the group--and with the limit of time, we weren't showing that as much here--the problem is that nothing else can get talked about, because everything else feels trivial in comparison. It is hard to talk about other things.

 

And of course, that has an important positive side, because you start thinking of, if things really start to get so trivial or problems start to feel trivial in the face of death, well, maybe that is because things are trivial in the face of death. Maybe we ought to reprioritize what seems important and what seems trivial to us. And that's how so many people have talked about how it is not going into a bleak blackness to think about death, but in fact thinking about death, incorporating it, is a way of revitalizing your life.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

MOLYN LESZCZ: I will comment also, because I think it's a very good question. What I felt in the group was that I wanted to kind of keep it up in the air without consuming the group with it. And when Pam talked about how great Julius was, and others said how great Julius was, I felt this was--I asked the question, "Am I doing something to elicit these expressions of my greatness?" And part of what I am thinking about is, "Are they responding to my narcissistic vulnerability by buoying me at a time when they might be concerned about my decline?"

 

The question, however, didn't get answered in the way I thought it might have. But we went in another really productive area, I felt, which was, if I am two-dimensional to the positive, and others are two-dimensional to the negative, then we have some scope to work here to kind of flesh this out. And we were really we were able to capitalize on that with Rebecca and Bonnie in the last few minutes of the meeting.

 

If it stayed as an elephant in the room that wasn't being talked about, I think the therapist--Julius, myself--would have had to go into it in a more frontal approach. But I felt we were kind of milking the best benefit of it without preoccupying the group with it.

 

IRVIN YALOM: And I thought such a beautiful response to "You're so great," for him to immediately turn to exploring that and "What am I doing to pull that greatness from you?" is a wonderful example of the use of the self of the therapist. Yes? AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: I saw a contrast between the two sessions, a very strong contrast. The first was exciting, had emotional depth, seemed to have direction, its own flow. And the second act, if you will, kind of lacked direction, didn't have vibrancy. Was kind of flat. And I've been asking myself, what is the difference here? My thought is, and I would welcome others, too, is that the question was proposed to Julius of what is going on inside of him about this cancer. And masterfully, if I may put it that way--I'm saying that in a way a little sarcastically--Julius avoided that question. And I think the group took direction from that. The therapist is a model, and as the therapist kind of avoided that I think others avoided some of their internal feelings in great contrast to the first session. Any thoughts on any--did others see these differences between the two, and what might account for them?

 

BEN YALOM: Can I speak to that? I think maybe just one element. I don't know about the way that things transpired with Julius in that conversation. I get the sense that we managed to talk around that for a while, but gleaned some things from it. But one thing we talked about backstage if you will, was I felt, and perhaps incorrectly so, but I felt like in that first group we brought in an enormous amount of really good dramatic material from the book. We skimmed out the major issues for most of the book.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Some of the major issues.

 

BEN YALOM: Some. Yes, sorry. Some of the major issues. And I perhaps incorrectly felt that we might have been doing a disservice here in terms of really looking at the therapy techniques because we as actors and artists are very attuned to what are the big dramatic hits that we are going to get. And so I was sort of making an effort to refocus us a little bit as we spoke backstage into what might have been a little more useful process-wise. So it may not have played off as quite as good theater but I hope it had at least as good teaching value.

 

MOLYN LESZCZ: A comment about the transparency. I felt I tried to strike a balance between being transparent about what I felt in the here and now. I didn't go into great depth about my own sense of what I imagine it would feel like to be knowing that I had a malignancy.

 

But in terms of therapist transparency, we always have to weight what are the benefits, what are the risks, in whose interest is this? And as a therapist I think I would have recognized that part of the pull would have been to use this wonderful group to support me, and I felt that I didn't want to do that to excess.

 

I felt the way this group could support me would be by working in a way that would reduce regrets when we hit an inevitable limit. So in another session I think there may have been more of a direct response to the point that you are raising.

 

I felt we are always walking a tightrope in the issue of transparency. And part of what I guess I want to speak to is that kind of reflective process the therapist has to be engaged in order to maximize benefits and minimize hazards. AUDIENCE MEMBER 3: I had the unique experience of co-leading a psychotherapy group with my first late husband who died of a malignant melanoma. And I have two comments. One is that it was a remarkable experience, as you can imagine, and that the group was very protective as long as we needed the group to be protective, which is what I observed, perhaps from my own experience, that is what I observed. But the second is that when we no longer needed to be as protective of ourselves and the group because we were farther along in that process ourselves, they didn't want to talk about it. They wanted to feel a connection.

 

IRVIN YALOM: How long did the group go on and what happened to the group? AUDIENCE MEMBER 3: It was a couples group, and it continued. I still lead couples groups and all of the couples were at the memorial service at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

IRVIN YALOM: So he led the group with you pretty fairly close to time of death? AUDIENCE MEMBER 3: Until it was no longer appropriate for him to do that, yeah.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Did he have any questions about being in the group? How did he make the decision to go ahead and work? AUDIENCE MEMBER 3: Much the same way you did.

 

IRVIN YALOM: I'm really interested in hearing that. Thanks for that so much. AUDIENCE MEMBER 4: I was really moved by both sessions, but particularly the last one, and found myself choked up and really involved. And that's unusual for me to be so impressed. It made me feel that the actors should become really good group members and that Molyn should become an actor. And then for Irv to write something and to see it actually come to life must be just the greatest joy that a writer can have.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Great pleasure. AUDIENCE MEMBER 4: I mean to literally be able to create life with your pen. There were a couple of rubs for me, just from my own practice or orientation. First let me say that the part that really impressed me in terms of Molyn's therapeutic skill was using what went on with Pam in terms of being two-dimensional, and then using it with himself, and then using it with Philip. That was just such a beautiful piece of work. And where there were the rubs in both sessions, I just flinched a little bit, was not acknowledging opposites and duality. Like with Pam when she was furious at the beginning, she wasn't helped or it wasn't articulated that you can feel both things. You can be forgiving and you can feel angry. And with Bonnie I wanted to say to her, "What if you felt the opposite of a nothing? What would that be like for you and to try on the opposite?"

 

IRVIN YALOM: Good, thank you.

 

MOLYN LESZCZ: Good comments. AUDIENCE MEMBER 5: I just want to commend Molyn and Irv and the group. I thought it was terrific. I think you guys could take this on the road. I think it could stand as a show. It was wonderful.

 

The one thing missing from its quite accurate depiction of a therapy group were silences, which I certainly understand given this context, but I wonder, Irv or Molyn, if you had any thoughts in general about therapists handling silence. Certainly in a group like this, many of the silences, should they occur, would have been thoughts of death, the therapist's death. But any thoughts?

 

IRVIN YALOM: I'm not a great fan of silences. I'm a little bit too impatient. And I don't want them going on for long time. But when an unusual silence emerges I will try to dig into the silence. I will try to ask members if we could explore exactly what they were thinking. Sometimes even a go-around. "Could we all go-around very quickly and off the top of your head tell me what is passing through your mind in those two minutes?" That often can generate a ton of material. So I don't like when silences go on for five minutes in a group.

 

MOLYN LESZCZ: I felt Philip needed some silence, though--when I interjected and said "Don't respond; just sit with this." Silence, of course, can mean a whole host of things. AUDIENCE MEMBER 6: I was wondering if you could give some more guidance on how you have that sense of when theme saturation occurs. My sense, for example, in that moment you were just talking about when you switched over to Rebecca with the two-dimensional, was that there was still a lot of juice. I was wondering about Pam--what was she sitting with hearing that? I certainly could be very guilty of riding things too long. I tend to think of sort of the Gestalt cycle of wanting to work it through enough that they can come down and take some sense out of it.

 

And you jumped around much more, both in the first and second, in a way which I was wondering if you were consciously balancing the group--I couldn't really take from it, but it worked. Can you help me understand what you were doing and how you made those choices?

 

MOLYN LESZCZ: There is the concept of choice point analysis, and that in a group--in any group let alone this group where everything is so compressed--you are always making decisions about the cost-benefit of whatever you do. And you can't milk something completely with one or two interactions at the expense of others in the group.

 

So Irv, you have written about something before, that the group therapist is almost like a shepherd in a sense, facilitating and making sure that no one gets left too far behind. And you have to give something to get something, and fortunately we don't have to do everything in one meeting.

 

I will look for other cues. A lack of emotional intensity, disinterest, body language of people in the group, that they are disengaged. Or if a group is really engaged I will probably run with it further--I will run with it further for sure. But I am also thinking, if we are doing this, what are we not doing by doing this? That goes back to Elaine's comment about the duality--that there is always a tremendous amount that is going on.

 

IRVIN YALOM: And theme satiation--you can recognize it by there are fewer and fewer people participating in it as well, and people have dropped off as well. But it is an error, I think, to let it go on too long. AUDIENCE MEMBER 7: Like the lady who spoke before I had a patient in my group who was dying. Actually he died two months ago. And he came up until the three weeks before he died in the group. And my question is this--because I haven't read the book so I don't know how that happens in the book. If you are a therapist and you know that you are dying, and your group knows that you are dying, what are you going to do with this group? Do you find somebody to keep this group going after you die or do you let the group die with you? That is my question.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Both possibilities are open. This was a long-term group that worked with him. And you see what happened here the group--he set a time limit. "We have another year; it is a long enough period of time. "Other people will bring someone else in--bring a younger person in over the last couple of months and have the group go on. If it is a group that's built for a long time that is extremely powerful, it feels to me like a pity to me to end this thing which has become such a great, wonderful vehicle to just carry people to a safer place. So if I had my druthers, I would like the group not to end.

 

VICTOR YALOM: I think that was a great job. It really demonstrated many of the principles of group therapy. I should add that the actors were part of FoolsFURY Theater which is a theater company run by Ben Yalom, my brother, your son.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Well cast.

 

VICTOR YALOM: And a couple questions come up for me. One is the important issue of group selection. Philip, the lead character here, clearly has what we would call schizoid tendencies or more than tendencies, Isn't there a real risk in putting someone like this in a group--the risk that he could become a deviant member?

 

IRVIN YALOM: I think Julius was taking a risk with Philip. But he had a special motivation for putting him in the group. He knew him well. He felt that he could tolerate any discomfort from being in a deviant position. Moreover, he was going to be a therapist, and it was dreadfully essential for him to have this group experience. And as you have heard already, he is like Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer would consider being in a therapy group as his recipe for hell. And so he wanted to change Philip very much, but he sensed something in Philip that was perhaps going to be able to yield a bit and interact with other people.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Obviously if he can make us of the group and join the group, it can really address his core issues. But the question is whether he is able to use the group in that way and not be too disruptive.

 

IRVIN YALOM: As you see, Julius worked very hard with Philip. Very hard with him. And there was a background of caring behind that, too. They had known one another before.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

VICTOR YALOM: Any other thoughts just in general on group selection?

 

IRVIN YALOM: I think you want to select people who you think can participate in the work of this group. If they can't quite engage in the group process and are not ready to do that, then put them in another group that works at a slightly different pace in that group. The other people in that group were obviously all well suited for this. And also the length of time--some people have been in this group for two or three years already.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Another thing is conflict. There is a lot of conflict in these groups, and that is something that members are often scared of when thinking about group, when you are encouraging them to be in a group. Therapists are also often wary about conflict in the groups, but in fact it can be very helpful and can energize a group.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Sometimes it's useful if a therapist can deal with conflict when it comes their way. If patients in a group are angry at a therapist or feel he made an error in such a way, it is better for the therapist to do some modeling about how to handle this. And if you have co-leaders in the group, that is a great time for co-leaders to be helpful for one another.

 

Members in a conflict, or a pair that is in conflict, can profit enormously, for once staying with the conflict rather than breaking the relationship and running off--being able to stay in there, work things out. Oftentimes those people come to treasure each other's contributions at the end of therapy. That is the person they select as having helped them the most.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Right. And for other members--say, other members that are averse to conflict--they may be sitting just in the room or between the members, and that would be an example. Then you could work with them. What was it like for them to be sitting there experiencing conflict?

 

IRVIN YALOM: Right. And some people try to make it even easier for them by doing some role playing for a brief period of time. It is all another way of conditioning them to be able to do this in slightly less painful ways. It's really taking a great risk if you have a group of your classmates or a group of people that you work with all the time, and being in conflict with them, that is much riskier than doing that in a stranger group.

 

MALE VOICE: Another big theme here in the book has to do with therapist disclosure for both of these groups. The disclosure, of course, that Molyn had a fatal illness and how that impacted the group and group members' attempts to elicit information about that from him.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Yes, therapists are participant-observers. They are observers of the group but they are also participating in that group. I feel like doing a lot of groups early in my career made me much more comfortable with self-disclosure. I couldn't be in a group with everybody in the group calling each other by their first name, calling me Dr. Yalom. I had to be a part of the group more, go by first name, very willing to talk about here and now feelings I might have towards anyone else in the group.

 

Molyn did that at one occasion. What he did was to say, "I have a dilemma." He is saying, in effect, "I have a dilemma. On the one hand I want to continue with Philip, but on the other hand I don't want to leave you out or you out." So that is a kind of disclosure, what is going on in his own internal processes. So I am very much in favor of certain types of therapist disclosure, which is not necessarily disclosing about one's outside life in a way that is not going to be useful to the group. So I try to disclose in the here-and-now very fully in the group.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Right. And although many members did ask him about his feelings about his illness, he didn't get into too much of that in these groups, but he did kind of give a promissory note that he would come back to that.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Yes, he did. And there would be meetings where he would bring it up. He made it very clear that he is aware that an unspoken, an un-discussed issue as big as his illness is going to be like an elephant in the room. There is a cardinal rule in that when something really big doesn't get talked about, then nothing else gets talked about either. So he is going to bring it back. He is going to even start meetings in the future by talking about his illness, hold little back from them.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Well, thank you very much for taking the time to be here today and discussing this.

 

IRVIN YALOM: You're welcome. I'm pleased to be a part of this because I think this is going to be a really good group therapy teaching tool.

 

VICTOR YALOM: And very different from anything else.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Unique.

Part 1

 

VICTOR YALOM: Hello, I'm Victor Yalom. I'm pleased to be here today with Dr. Irvin Yalom. He's made outstanding contributions to the field of group and existential psychotherapy. He's also written many books, both fiction and nonfiction, all revolving around psychotherapy themes. He's also my father. Good to be here.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Good to be here for me, too.

 

VICTOR YALOM: In a few minutes, we're about to see two demonstration groups that were filmed at the American Group Psychotherapy Association annual conference here in San Francisco.

 

Prior to the groups, in your opening remarks, you set the stage for them, so we don't need to do that here, but suffice it to say that the groups are inspired by your novel, The Schopenhauer Cure, which is really set in group therapy. And the groups are led by Molyn Leszcz, who is your co-author of the fifth edition of your text, The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy.

 

Now, that's a big book, over 600 pages, so we can't do justice to it here. But I think it would be helpful if you could summarize the core principles of your model of group psychotherapy.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Basically, I want to make the point--and I do in there--that we're really talking about group therapies. There are a tremendous number of different types of group therapies--more, it seems, every year--and we do talk about that in the text.

 

But, this type of group that we're going to be looking at today, I feel, is the central model of group therapy. And we can change it in many different ways to fit different clinical situations, different clinical populations, but primarily, it's an interpersonal group. This is a group where we're making the assumption--and it's an assumption I believe very much--that people come to see us, for the most part, because they can't establish and maintain nurturing, ongoing interpersonal relationships.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Right. And when you say people come to see "us," you're meaning any therapist; not a group therapist, an individual therapist.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Exactly. Any therapist.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Even if they're depressed or anxious, it often revolves around interpersonal themes, breakups--

 

IRVIN YALOM: Exactly. Interpersonal isolation causes depression, and then depression makes that even worse.

 

In the group, we focus very much on trying to change people's interpersonal relationships. We try to do this quite directly by focusing on the relationships between people in the group.

 

So this means--and this is what you're going to see in these next two meetings--this means the group is focused very much on relationships between one another.

 

VICTOR YALOM: This is what you call the here-and-now. IRVIN YALOM: Exactly, the here-and-now. These two groups stay very much in the here-and-now. You won't hear people talking about the past very much, although sometimes that's important for some period of time. But you don't hear people talking about their outside lives. The great majority of the talk in these groups is on the relationships between the people.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Now, of course, when you do this, or you explain it to people in preparation for a group, that seems somewhat counterintuitive to people, because they say, "Well, I'm not here to work on my relationships with people in the group. I'm here to make these changes in my life."

 

IRVIN YALOM: Right. Some of them won't even know what you're talking about. "I've got a problem with my boss. What's talking about my relations with these people I'll never see again?"

 

But we have to disabuse them of that, and educate them about that. We do that throughout the group, but especially in the early preparatory meetings. We tell them, in effect, that the group is a kind of social microcosm. And by that, we mean that the group is a micro-representative of all kinds of outside issues that you're going to encounter.

 

With that patient you just mentioned, if you're having trouble with the boss, great chances are you're going to have some issues going on with someone in the group who you feel is very aggressive or authoritarian.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

VICTOR YALOM: Or if you're a people-pleaser, and you take care of other people but never get your own needs met, that's going to get reenacted in the relationships in the group.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Absolutely. And the job of the therapist is to begin to call attention to that. "You know, I have a feeling you're doing here what you're doing out there."

 

Or if a person is self-effacing or if a person is grandiose or if a person is monopolistic or has no empathy for others, all these traits will unfold in a group that's not relatively structured, and will go on for long periods of time.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Providing that the therapist does his or her job, which is to focus the group on the relationships in the group.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Right. And that's the therapist's main job in this group: to keep the group focused on the here-and-now. VICTOR YALOM: And that's a hard skill to learn.

 

IRVIN YALOM: It is. It is a complex group, and it takes a lot of learning. And it's far more difficult to learn than you have a manual that tells you what to do [at that meeting] and certain kinds of homework. You really have to deal with any kind of issues that are presented by the group.

 

VICTOR YALOM: All right. So, now, as we watch the first group, what should the viewer be looking for to get the most out of it?

 

IRVIN YALOM: Well, look, for one thing, what the leader does. But, you know, these patients have already been trained. They've been in the group for quite a while, some of them for quite some time.

 

So look what's happening. See if the group stays in the here-and-now. Take a look at what happens with disclosure, when people disclose themselves. See how the therapist keeps the themes going in the group. See how much the therapist discloses about himself.

 

Then there's an unusual situation in this group. Take a look at what the presence of death--in that the leader himself has a fatal disease--what that is beginning to do to people.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Okay, so let's watch the group, and then you and I will reconvene afterwards.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Glad to.

 

I'm really looking forward to this afternoon. And I don't know how many times I've said that to audiences without really meaning it. This time, I really mean it. I am very excited about this.

 

How rare is it? In fact, it may be unique. This is the first time in history anything like this has been done, where a novelist gets to see his characters come alive; not coming alive in a screenplay or movie, which is more or less following the script of the book, but the characters that are created in my novel are just cut loose, like Pinocchio. And they may follow some things in the book, but the instructions are just to take off. No one will lead them.

 

I told them all, "Don't worry. Wherever you go or whatever track you do, Molyn will bring you back, as a good group therapist will."

 

So, they're not going to follow the script of the book, with this one exception. The first meeting is going to start at a certain time in the book, and I need to give you some backstory. This is a backstory that, of course, Julius knows and all the other group members know, except for one--Pam--who's been away for a couple of months and she's just coming back into this meeting today.

 

I have a lot of different reasons for writing this novel, but I'm going to stick simply to what's relevant to our presentation today.

 

But the major thing I want to say, I'm writing this novel as a way of teaching something about group therapy. And our major hope today is that the result of this is to help you in your group therapy practice. We want to help experienced group leaders feel more supported by our saying and doing things that you all do anyway in your groups, and we want to help beginning group therapists to get some kind of guidelines for how to work with an unusual group meeting.

 

The novel starts, then the part that relates to this group starts with something that is very rare in a group but it's not unknown--and I've known such things--a group therapist getting a terrible, fatal illness. And he has been given a bad prognosis. It's malignant melanoma. The doctor said, "We think you'll get one good year of good-functioning life."

 

So, he is going to be able to function well for a year. That was how I picked out his disease, incidentally. I wanted somebody who could be in relatively good health for a year, and be able to work for a year.

 

So I went through all the possible malignancies, the various things that people could get, talked to all my oncology friends, and malignant melanoma seemed to be the right disease to give poor Julius.

 

Julius at that point went through in his mind what we will see everyone go through, and each of us, having to cope with the idea of his own non-being. He goes through a series of personal investigations; he goes through a great deal of panic; and then finally, the panic subsides--and I won't go into this in depth--but with some aid of some philosophical help, especially using one of his own favorite philosophical writers--one of mine too, of course.

 

He rereads some passages in Nietzsche, especially the passage surrounding the idea of eternal return, a very wacky kind of notion that Nietzsche developed. He meant it seriously at first, but later recognized it as a thought experiment; not a mere thought experiment, but a thought experiment that could change your life if you really listened to it.

 

And the thought experiment was to imagine a demon coming to you one night, whispering into your ear that this life, as you have lived it, will return to you exactly again and again and again throughout all eternity, and that every event that happened will once again return to you. What would you feel? Would you curse me, as a demon, or would you perhaps bless me for bringing you the gladdest news in your life?

 

So, the object of that, if we think about that, I do think this an important idea and concept in therapy. I use it all the time. The issue is, are you living your life in such a way that you would want this exact same life to be repeated again and again and again, throughout all eternity? Or, would you gnash your teeth and curse the demon? You never want to go through this life again. If that's the case, then why?

 

And then we get into the concept, in therapy, of regrets. What are you doing in your life that's causing regrets? Then we can be much more therapeutic by flashing forward: what can we do so that one year from now, two years from now, you won't have accumulated even more regrets?

 

That helped Julius a great deal. And he thought about it, and he thought that he was living his life right--that he was extremely proud of spending his life having been a therapist. It was an extraordinary delight for him to be able to bring something to life in others, and he would go on living this last life in exactly the same way he had lived all his previous years. So that was why he decided that he would work and lead this group, which was a very important part of his practice.

 

Those of you who are experienced group therapists know how important a really well functioning, long-term group can be. And maybe some of you have experienced the same thing that Julius did and I have, which is that a group often creates a helpful aura about it. It's like a bath you go into. And it's not only that all the members in the group may get better at once, but also the therapist is helped, too, by being in this group.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

So Julius was thinking that. He was thinking how glad he was he had spent his life in this fashion. He was thinking, then, of the people he had helped, wondering about contacting old patients that he'd seen 20, 30 years ago.

 

Then, suddenly, he got the notion of patients he had failed with. And he thought, "Well, some of these failures aren't really failures. Some of them are late bloomers."

 

We all know about the concept of patients who take something that they learned in therapy and start using it years later, when they're ready for our premature interpretation. Julius had always dismissed failures as people who weren't quite ready for his advanced brand of delivery.

 

But he started thinking about his failures. And then, as he did--and he was looking in his chart room--his eye fell upon a very thick chart, the chart of a man named Philip--Philip, who is right here in this group. And he thought, if ever there were a failure, that was it.

 

Philip had been somebody he'd seen 20 years before. He was a sex addict. He had worked two or three times a week with Philip for at least three years, and hadn't budged him one inch. He felt absolute failure. Whatever happened to Philip? He'd never heard of him after he stopped therapy.

 

And he began to get an impulsion to get in touch with Philip. The idea of seeing Philip again just sort of burrowed into him, just like the melanoma, and he determined to get in touch with Philip.

 

Maybe he had helped him after all. Or maybe he still had another chance. Maybe he's older now, and wiser and riper. Maybe he had something still to give. Maybe he could still redeem himself. So he got in touch with Philip.

 

Saw him individually, in an individual session, only Philip said, "Please come to my office. I'm a counselor, too, now."

 

He had worked as a chemist. And then Julius still learned that Philip had been helped enormously--it changed his whole life. How?

 

He said, "I decided that since our sessions--your sessions, mine--were totally worthless, and very expensive"--and he knew just how much money he had spent on this; Philip was quite tight--he said he decided he was going to read all the books of the Western canon of philosophy. He was going to find something in the accumulated wisdom of the last two thousand years that might be helpful to him.

 

And, while he was doing that, he had a little money saved up and he decided he was going to switch fields and he was going to become a philosopher. So, he got his Ph.D. in philosophy.

 

And, while at Columbia getting his doctorate, he met the perfect therapist for him, someone who had really cured him of his addiction.

 

"Oh, who was that?" Julius was wondering. He was very excited about that. "In New York? What institute was he in?"

 

"His name was Arthur," Philip said. "Arthur Schopenhauer was the man to whom I owe my life."

 

So, Philip became a counselor, a philosopher, and then recently had turned to becoming a philosophical counselor, a new kind of development in our field, philosophers who set up shop and offer clinical philosophy consultation.

 

Julius didn't quite much like what he had seen in Philip--not only the idea that Philip confirmed that he had been useless to him, but also, he didn't feel that Philip had really changed very much--that he still was the same aggressive, kind of schizoid, uncaring person he had always been.

 

Imagine his surprise a short time later when Philip contacted him and asked him whether or not he, Julius, would be willing to supervise him. He needed a certain number of supervisory hours to get his license in counseling. He didn't need it for practice, but it would help in other ways, in malpractice unintelligible or so.

 

Julius was astonished at this. "Well, why would you call me when you say I'm a total failure?"

 

"Well, that doesn't mean you're a bad therapist. It means you just weren't good with me. You used the wrong kind of therapy."

 

Julius thought about it and he said, "No way I'll supervise you."

 

And thought to himself, You're about the worst candidate for being a therapist I've ever seen. You're a hater. Therapy is a calling. You've got to care for people.

 

He said, "No, I will never do that."

 

But then he began thinking about: if he didn't do it, someone else would. Maybe there was still a chance to redeem himself after all. And he met with Philip at an individual session, and he offered a very strange bargain to Philip.

 

And the bargain was "I agree that I will supervise you in your work if, and only if, you will spend six months in my therapy group."

 

The last thing in the world Philip wanted to do. Philip was like Schopenhauer. I built him, I constructed him, so that he was a Schopenhauer clone. And being together with other people, being close and being intimate, would be Schopenhauer's and Philip's personal view of hell. But that was the only way he was going to get his license.

 

Philip agreed to come into this strange group as a member. And he had been there for about three meetings when this particular meeting occurred.

 

What happened in those three meetings was that, much to Julius' surprise, Philip ended up being somewhat--what should I say?--popular in the group. The group sort of valued his contributions, even though they were uttered in a kind of disembodied, uncaring way. But he uttered some wise things--wise things from Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard and Kant--and the group was impressed and felt helped by him.

 

He even gave advice. He advised one of the members in the group, Gill, who will raise his hand, to leave his wife. "She's a sinking ship. Get out of there and swim as fast as you can. She's going to leave a big wave, but it'll suck you down. Start swimming fast!"

 

The group liked that Philip was giving advice to them. So, gradually, what was happening in the group was there was a growing integration of Philip, although not as a real member--he was kind of a disembodied person--but as someone who had concepts and a different way to do the therapy. A growing competition, perhaps, in a young counselor coming into the group in competition with an older, established, experienced--but dying--therapist. That's one of the motifs that's happening in this group.

 

The other thing I need to tell you before we start the group is that one of the members, Pam, who is--would you raise your hand, Pam?--who has been an essential key member, kind of the life of the group. All group leaders know there's one particular person who they don't like to see absent from a meeting. It's sort of the life in that group is in that person. She was well liked, and was a key part of that group. Julius liked her very much.

 

But she had been become obsessed in a way that therapy was of no help to her. She got caught up with a lover and a husband. She wanted to leave her husband but her lover wouldn't leave his wife for her. And she got so caught up with this, she finally took a friend's advice and went away to India to a meditation retreat for a couple of months, which didn't help too much, either.

 

And after those two months, Pam returns to the group. People have been eagerly waiting in the group. So, Philip had already been meeting with the group for about four weeks. And then, they'd been getting some emails, and Julius announced to the group the previous meeting, he'd just gotten an email from Pam and she might well be coming back to this meeting.

 

So, this meeting starts. Pam has just walked into the room, has been greeting two or three of the members that she first saw on entering the room. And now the group comes to life.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

MOLYN LESZCZ: Just before we move into the group therapy setting itself, a few other points. What we hope to be able to demonstrate--Irv has spoken about the existential theme and perspective. We're also going to focus on the interpersonal perspective as well, using the group as the microcosm in which each individual person's view of himself influences the way they relate. The way they relate impacts on others in the room--in the group, in their lives--and becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, a way to maintain a very familiar, albeit very unsatisfying, status quo.

 

Part of the task of a therapist is to try to create a cohesive environment, a social microcosm, where people are able to bring themselves as they genuinely are. We don't want people on their best behavior. We want them to be real.

 

We want to focus as much as possible on interpersonal feedback--learning from one another, understanding how each person recreates his own environment in the room itself.

 

One of the things that we talked about earlier when we met with the actors together--we have a wonderful cast of characters, I must tell you--is that many therapists, myself included, try to, before people come into a group, have a kind of formulation, or a kind of roadmap in my mind about each individual.

 

Then I look for ways in which we can access that in the course of the group. So I am going to take advantage of that methodology to also flesh out a little bit about the characters beyond what Irv has said. This will also introduce you to the characters.

 

Just before I do that, I want to also comment that we're going to hopefully illuminate issues to do with therapist transparency, therapist disclosure, counter-transference--its use, its hazards--recognizing this is a bit more complicated than usual because Julius recognizes that he is failing physically. And, although cognitively intact, he knows he has a limited amount of time left to work with this group. But, as Irv commented, this is how he wants to spend his life. This is what revitalizes him.

 

The group knows about this. Pam has learned about it through email before she comes into the group.

 

We have heard about Philip--I'll start at this end--schizoid, robotic, wanting to make himself completely devoid of any emotion or feeling that links him to people. Attachment emphasizes vulnerability as a recipe for his destruction. There's a problem with his sexual addiction that he has dealt with by just withdrawing completely from human interaction and human feelings.

 

Bonnie. Want to signal so people will know?

 

Bonnie is a woman who has always seen herself as the frumpy, overweight girl; never part of the central circle; always feeling that any time she was a friend to someone, it was an imposition upon them. Someone who prefers to stay on the margins of life. Self-valuing, undercutting. Has difficulties with her daughter, and is divorced.

 

Tony is a kind of archetype of a man's man. Primal. Driven. As distant as Philip is from his primal instincts right now, Tony is right in there, knee-deep. There's a kind of an animal, jungle quality that some of the women in the group quite like, and some of the men might even envy a bit. Tony sees himself as really in this kind of two-dimensional way.

 

Pam, as Irv has commented, is just coming back. A university professor. Angry at men--angry in particular at men who disappoint and exploit, and men who fail because of their own lackings. And her anger is a powerful and formidable force.

 

Gill is a man who Philip counseled about "Get away from your wife. She's a sinking ship." Gill does not really make a big presentation of himself in the group. He is more present by virtue of his absence. Soft. Kind of weak. Feeble, in some regards. Unwilling to hold his own emotions; unwilling really to speak his own mind in any substantive way.

 

Rebecca is a woman who came into therapy because, at the age of 30, she recognized that for the first time, people were not stopping to eat when she would walk into a restaurant. She'd grown up all of her life feeling that her beauty was a key that would open any door. When she began to age and lose a sense of her unique beauty, looked inside and didn't like what she saw. Has a sense of herself as only being the outside.

 

Stuart is a pediatrician who's in therapy, as we know happens sometimes, because his wife said to him, "If you don't get into treatment, I'm leaving."

 

So, a decent man, but lacking emotional motivation, emotional conviction. There's a very telling scene in the book. Stuart is identified in the group really as the group historian and the group camera: not a real participant, but someone who recalls the details without a lot of emotion. Had a dream about his daughter dying in quicksand, and he couldn't rescue her because he was busy trying to get a camera to try to record what was happening.

 

It is two-thirty now. We are going to meet in this group. In just a moment, we're going to start; and once we're in role, we're in role for 55 minutes. Then Irv will lead a discussion --Irv will actually discuss and dissect what's gone on. If any of you have had anxiety about having your work analyzed or scrutinized in supervision, this is a way to overcome any kind of apprehension that you might have.

 

Then we're going to take a break. Then we're going to reconvene at a session a few sessions further down the road. Then we will have ample time at the end of our afternoon again for Irv's comments and critiques, and for your input and perspective. We want to make good use of that dialog at the end. We're going to stop at 5:45 and ask you please to complete evaluations or critical reviews.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

I think we're ready to begin. So, just to remind you, Pam has just returned to the group, has hugged and made contact with all the old members of the group, is just taking her seat now, absolutely overwhelmed by seeing Philip in the group that had been her haven and sanctuary.

 

PAM: You insect! I'm floored! I came back here from India and I can't believe this. I thought, I was so happy to see everybody. I was so happy to be coming back into the group, and now what do I find? You!

 

JULIUS: You know Philip?

 

PAM: We knew each other many years ago. Fifteen years ago. Can you elaborate on that, Philip?

 

PHILIP: Greetings, Pam. Yes, 15 years ago, we indeed had an encounter. I would like to posit, perhaps, that that was 15 years ago, after all. And I've come a long way, and I hope that you have as well.

 

PAM: Oh, just stop right--this is ridiculous, Julius. I can't believe this. The man--15 years ago, he was my teacher assistant, which basically means he was teaching my class. I'm 18 years old. I'm a virgin. My best friend, Molly, falls in with this guy for three weeks in this class. So, he's not only our teacher, but then he has a relationship with my best friend.

 

Then, he drops her after three weeks, during which time, he deflowers me. He has sex with me two times and drops me, too.

 

PHILIP: You've not heard me deny this, Pam, and I will not deny this. It is all true. I will--

 

PAM: Look at him sitting there! I'm sorry, but you are the same as you were 15 years ago. I don't know why this man is here. I'm feeling really threatened.

 

PHILIP: You want me to take care of it? I'm just kidding you. I'm trying to quell the mood a little bit.

 

JULIUS: Look, Pam, I'm really sorry about this. I know you came back already with a lot to deal with. I want to say I'm delighted to have you back. I'm stunned at this. It hasn't happened to me ever before in 40 years of practice. And it's clear you and Philip have had this history. I'm not sure how we should proceed. But I do very much want you to stay.

 

PAM: I don't know if I'm going to be able to stay. Julius, I heard about you and what you're going through. I was very happy you called me on the phone and we talked about it. I was looking forward to coming back into the group. I don't want to be dealing with this right now. I want to be talking about you, and what's going on with Julius.

 

And I'm just --I'm floored.

 

REBECCA: Pam, no one wants you to leave. That's not what this is about whatsoever.

 

STUART: No one.

 

REBECCA: Philip has been here for three weeks. You need to work this out, because Philip has had some really interesting comments for the group.

 

STUART: He's been very helpful.

 

PAM: Very helpful?

 

STUART: Well, he's made some good suggestions.

 

PAM: Look at how he's sitting! He can't even look at me! I really find this hard to believe. In fact, I find this to be something of a joke. This is my haven. This is where I come to feel safe. And now, the man--do you know that I am no longer friends with the person that --that whole incident broke up me and my best friend. We try to maintain an email relationship, but that's nothing compared to what we were.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

That man--you--broke me!

 

PHILIP: If I may--

 

PAM: And broke up this relationship with my best friend. And you don't even care.

 

PHILIP: If I had a moment to comment upon some of these observations you have thrown my way, I might remind you that, of course, it was 15 years ago. Of course, you were a consensual participant in our action, as was your friend.

 

I am here as part of a contract that I have with Julius, and which I intend to fulfill.

 

I apologize that my hateful reminder sitting here, that you obviously despise this "insect," as you stated earlier. But this is not something that I am responsible for.

 

I exist. Here I am. And I have used this gaze to reflect inwardly, to look honestly at my intellectual faculties to come up with my view of the world.

 

PAM: You're just--

 

PHILIP: I'm not affected by your hatred. I'm only affected by my own perception of the world. And this is where I gather strength, and this is where I suggest you could also foster some strength as well.

 

JULIUS: I've got to ask you guys, how are you experiencing what's happening so far?

 

BONNIE: I feel like I don't have any room to talk, because my husband left me and I don't know anything about relationships, obviously, but--

 

REBECCA: Bonnie, this really isn't about you right now.

 

TONY: I'm a little distraught over something I just heard you say just now, Philip, was about that you were here under a contract with Julius. And I was also hoping that you were here for us as well, to be a participant with us and to be part of the group.

 

PHILIP: Being a part of the group is the essence of my contract with Julius. And therefore, I will learn and participate and, as you put it, be there for you.

 

PAM: I don't even see how this person can be a part of the group if his mandate is to act just like Schopenhauer, who was absolutely about detaching and not personalizing. Look what he just said. He just called deflowering his student a social interaction.

 

He can't even call me by name. How is this person going to help me by being here? I don't see it. I don't see how he's going to help any of us.

 

GILL: Well, I think already he has helped some of us. I'm sorry that you've had this relationship with him that makes you uncomfortable, but some of us need him here. He gave me a lot of good advice. He helped me to leave my wife, which obviously didn't work out. But it was good advice, and it was a good step, and I just failed.

 

JULIUS: Look, Pam, this is awful. I know how important this group has been for you. I want to know how glad I was that you were coming back. I had no idea about this. I hope you know that.

 

PAM: Well, I appreciate you telling me that, because walking in here, I just felt like I was being punched in the stomach.

 

JULIUS: I'm sure.

 

BONNIE: I'm sorry, I just feel like, as important as this is, it just pales in comparison to you, Julius. I mean, we haven't even talked about it. And I'm sorry that this situation came up but it just ...

 

PAM: I wanted to talk about how you're feeling, too, Julius. I'm thrown, too.

 

REBECCA: We're all worried about you, Julius.

 

BONNIE: Uh-huh. JULIUS: I appreciate that. And I want to say a couple of things. First, I'm glad, Bonnie, that you said what you did about me just a moment ago. I was kind of puzzled, Rebecca, by you, in essence, silencing Bonnie, and I wondered what motivated that. So, I'm glad that you didn't stay silenced.

 

And, talking about me, obviously we're going to do that. We have to do that. But I don't know right now whether that's the priority. No, that's okay. That's okay. I'm alert to it. I know you have a lot of feelings about it.

 

But I think the first thing we need to do, to determine, is whether we're going to be able to work together as a group, whether you're going to be able to work through this.

 

There have been many times we have used these kinds of awful events as opportunities. What do you guys think?

 

PAM: Well, Julius, that's just the kind of thing that you'd usually say. And that's just the kind of thing that pisses me off. But I'm not leaving my group.

 

REBECCA: No one's asking you to leave the group, Pam.

 

STUART: Yeah. I think, in fact, there's been a lot of encouragement for you to stay, and I believe that's what Julius is saying now; that although this is a challenging time, it might be useful--

 

PAM: Stuart, can you say something about how you feel?

 

STUART: Well, there's a lot of tension among all of us here in the group right now, and we're feeling what's happening between you and Philip is clearly very difficult. And I think we'd all like to know that the group is going to hold together, and that you can stay and attempt to work these things out.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

TONY: Has anybody heard a feeling yet from Stuart?

 

REBECCA: No.

 

BONNIE: I have. STUART: I feel--I feel that I would like you to stay.

 

JULIUS: That's a feeling. That's a feeling.

 

BNNIE: I'm sorry, I would just like to point out that how can he share a feeling if he's not within the group? His chair is removed from the circle.

 

STUART: I'm sorry.

 

BONNIE: Thank you, Stuart.

 

TONY: Something that came up for me, Julius, if I may, is that you were asking to not talk about this right now.

 

PAM: Yes.

 

TONY: How does that feel for the group? Can we table this to another time, or is there some sort of resolve that should happen now?

 

GILL: Well, it seems like Julius was asking whether we're okay to continue. And I think as long as we know that Pam's going to stay in the group, I'd be okay with us moving on.

 

PHILIP: Tony, some clarification. Are you speaking now of the situation with Julius or the situation between Pam and myself?

 

TONY: I was talking about the situation between Pam and you.

 

PHILIP: I am completely able to continue. I would like to make an observation. A lot of concern has been put the way of your old and dearly beloved member, Pam. And I've not noticed one question about whether Philip--myself--shall be staying in the group. This is something that doesn't affect me, because I do not take my personal worth from the views of others, so that is all.

 

REBECCA: I, for one, would like you to stay, Philip. I think you've been absolutely fabulous in this group, and I've enjoyed you every second that you've been here since you joined.

 

TONY: You would.

 

REBECCA: Hm?

 

TONY: I mean, since the first day he came in here, you were preening and, you know, making flirtatious--

 

REBECCA: Oh, that was flirtatious? I'm sorry. I didn't realize that when we actually spoke in groups to members of the opposite sex that that was flirtation.

 

BONNIE: I think she's having trouble hearing you, Tony. Every time we try to give you some sort of criticism or feedback, you just get defensive. And I agree; I think that since the moment that he came in here, you've been un-taking and re-putting up your hair and putting on your makeup and general preening for him.

 

REBECCA: Well, thank you, Bonnie, for that really incredibly sensitive statement. Thanks.

 

TONY: I've just been noticing that your behavior has been a little different since Philip's been in the room, so I can understand why you would want him to stay.

 

PAM: I'm just pretty disgusted by that, this thinking that you'd even find him attractive.

 

REBECCA: Okay. "Hi!" At what point did this become flirting? At what point did I say, "Philip, I want to fuck you?" Huh? Did I say that? No.

 

I said, "Philip, thank you for your comments. I appreciate you being in the group, and I think a little new blood in here has actually been a very good thing for all of us."

 

BONNIE: I don't think that you're facing the reason that you came into this group, which was because you don't feel beautiful anymore, and that you're not getting the attention that you desire.

 

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I might not know what I'm talking about, but I think that you need to face that, and that Philip's presence here is good for all of us, including facing your own issues with needing other people's attention and approval to feel self-worthy. PHILIP: If I might butt in here. This self-worth is something that I think the great philosophers of our time have something helpful to add, which is if you find your self-worth from the eyes of others--which I believe you are being accused of--this will always go up and down and vary day to day and even minute to minute.

 

But, if you instead take that self-worth inwardly, to the rock foundation of your own self, this is something you can supply yourself with, if not happiness, a cessation from suffering.

 

REBECCA: Thank you, Philip.

 

PAM: Is anyone aware that he can't make eye contact with anybody in the group? Did anybody else notice that?

 

BONNIE: Uh-huh. PAM: Does it make anybody else uncomfortable?

 

BONNIE: Uh-huh. GILL: Well, Pam, maybe if you'd listen to what he was saying instead of focus on where he's looking. I think you're rolling your eyes every time he speaks, and you're not listening to him.

 

PAM: Gill, I'm having a really hard time just by his being here, okay? And if you knew anything about Schopenhauer, you would know that the man has no social skills at all.

 

I wanted to study him earlier on in my education, but no. I started looking into how he lived his life, his personal life. Sure, he's a great writer, but come on. The guy had no friends. The guy was totally disconnected from everybody.

 

PHILIP: And thus, my point is established yet again. One of the world's greatest philosophers, who made a foundation of his work--and the wisdom that we shall remember for centuries--founded upon a foundation of looking inwardly and not to the bobbing cork of outside up-and-down opinion, public opinion--the opinion of others, the opinion that will always vary. It goes with fashion. It is fashionable, the opinion of others.

 

PAM: Julius, I'm at a loss.

 

TONY: And Philip, that's the most I've seen you almost emotional about something in this group.

 

PHILIP: I do apologize.

 

PAM: I'm at a loss as to why you would think that his addition into this group would be important and functional to our group.

 

PHILIP: Perhaps a novel approach to therapy itself is useful. I posit the philosophical counselor as a new approach. This delving into my feelings about this, my feelings about that--perhaps we need to rise above that to a new and different approach. Perhaps this is why I'm popular.

 

BONNIE: I would have to say that I appreciate everything that you've said to me. But I feel like he's just discounting my feelings, which is why I came in here.

 

TONY: I don't understand. Philip?

 

BONNIE: Philip is discounting my feelings. I feel like he's telling me that what I feel isn't important and I should just not care about any of you, the way that I feel like nobody cares about me.

 

PHILIP: A word of reassurance, Bonnie. I discount my own feelings and the feelings of others, but I do in no way discount you, Bonnie.

 

PAM: I've forgotten what we were really talking about here.

 

REBECCA: I thought that we were talking about Julius.

 

STUART: We did say, in fact, that we were comfortable tabling this conversation between Pam and Philip until next week, and it seems as if we've come back to that instead of talking about the larger issue.

 

TONY: The last question was whether, almost, Stuart, that you were curious why Philip was brought into the group by Julius?

 

STUART: Yes, I believe she said, "How would that help any of us in our process?"

 

JULIUS: I'm going to jump in, because there is an awful lot going on. And, I have to say, as awful as we started, I have a certain hopefulness that this is going to really be more productive, Pam, than I think it feels for you right now.

 

Let's try to reflect on what's been happening so far, because I think if we back up a little bit, I think, Tony, you were right in your comment about Philip having a feeling. In fact, if we go back a few minutes, Philip, you said that no one has considered whether you would choose to stay in this meeting. And to me, that's the first thing that smells like a feeling from you--that this is upsetting for you..Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

This is hard for you. That there's something going on with Pam's reaction that is causing you to feel frustrated.

 

PHILIP: Let me examine that.

 

JULIUS: Stuart?

 

STUART: Yes?

 

JULIUS: Could you help him?

 

STUART: Well, he did ask whether anybody else - yes, he noted that everyone had asked Pam about whether or not she was going to be comfortable staying in the room, and it seemed quite important for people to have that sense of reassurance.

 

And Philip at that point noted that no one had asked whether he were going to stay in the room. And, as you say, it was the first time that he'd said something that almost resembled a feeling, after which Pam pointed out--

 

JULIUS: Stuart.

 

STUART: --that he wasn't looking at anyone.

 

JULIUS: Stuart.

 

STUART: Yes?

 

JULIUS: When I asked you if you could help Philip right now, what do you think I had in mind?

 

STUART: What he's feeling right now.

 

JULIUS: And are you able to access that?

 

STUART: I can try, yeah. Well, Philip, it sounds as if you're having an emotional response right now about the attention that the group is paying to you. How does that feel?

 

PHILIP: Thank you for the observation, Stuart. Let me look into that. And my first thought upon this is I believe I'm being misunderstood. It's not so much a feeling as I was pointing out merely an inconsistency, and I wanted to know if this was how --I'm a student of group therapy and therapy in general--is this how I am to act in the future as a counselor or therapist? This sort of inconsistency? I didn't think that that was how one was supposed to behave.

 

STUART: What inconsistency? Can you put your finger on that?

 

PHILIP: Of course. I shall repeat it one more time. The inconsistency of Pam being asked to remain, repeatedly, in the group, and the absence of that same request towards my person.

 

STUART: It does seem we have a longstanding relationship with Pam, and I think maybe that was the source of tension for a lot of people here, was that she seemed uncomfortable in a way that we're not used to seeing.

 

PHILIP: It is duly noted.

 

JULIUS: I'm going to jump in again, because there is a lot going on here, and I think it would be useful if we could reflect on that. And I'm hoping --obviously, we're not going to resolve, Pam, your obvious distress with Philip--what happened 15 years ago, 18 years ago--right at this moment.

 

But do we have a commitment from you, and from you, Philip--because I think it's important for the group to know this--that we're going to try to continue to work with this? Because I think it's very unsettling for the group if people are concerned that one of you is going to drop out.

 

TONY: I mean, we're already concerned enough with you dropping out.

 

JULIUS: Well, I haven't thought about it in those terms.

 

TONY: Sorry to say it that way.

 

JULIUS: Yeah, but I'm sure that's a source of real concern.

 

TONY: The whole group process is kind of tenuous.

 

GILL: Yeah.

 

JULIUS: You know, that's such an astute observation, Tony.

 

TONY: Thanks. It just feels that everything we've been working on is ... I don't know, it just doesn't ... it's not as easy anymore, because ... I don't even know how to put my finger on it. It's like ... I'm just worried, kind of like what Pam was saying, about just this as almost a safe haven. And how much longer ... I don't know, I can't--

 

STUART: You're concerned that it feels finite now?

 

TONY: Yeah. I mean, a year. And I love this group, and I need this therapy because I really don't have anything like it in my life right now. I mean, talking to you guys about me, and finding out more about how I interact, is necessary for me to be able to, I don't know, live a better life, I guess.

 

JULIUS: I have a comment and a question.

 

TONY: Uh-huh. JULIUS: The comment is that I sense we have an agreement that we're going to continue to try to work together, in the face of this, and in the face of my illness. Am I correct?

 

PAM: I'm not leaving my group.

 

JULIUS: Okay. I'm really glad to hear that.

 

PHILIP: I shall remain as well.

 

JULIUS: I'm very glad also, Philip, to hear that.

 

TONY: I'll stay.

 

JULIUS: But Tony, you said something --I've got to tell you guys, my head right now is filled with so many different ideas. And I'm aware that if I raise one, it means we're not going to pursue another one right now.

 

But let me tell you what I'm thinking about. I'm thinking, Tony, about what you value so much about this group that you don't want to see it end. I'd like us to flesh that out.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

Bonnie, you're more in the group today than you've been for a while. And I'm not sure what's going on between you and Rebecca, but, Rebecca, there's some tension there that would really be productive for us to look at. And, I mean, you were really outraged in response to that feedback about preening.

 

And there's other stuff, too. And I'm not oblivious to the fact--even though obviously I'm not delighted at the prospect of talking about it--about the impact on you of my being unwell. But I can reassure you that right now, I'm fine. And, in fact, I feel quite a lot of energy being with you guys.

 

And I'm confident in my doctor's prognosis that I'm going to be good for the next several months. So we've got a chunk of time. It's not an infinite amount of time, but it's a chunk of time, and I want us to make the best use of it

 

TONY: And you've also said, you know, it's important for us to kind of be here now, in the group, as opposed to --I guess I was just thinking about the future and how --the impermanence of it all.

 

PAM: Tony, I just really want to thank you for expressing yourself, and putting yourself out there. I think that's great.

 

And I have to say, you know, just being back from India, I thought a lot about the group. And I thought a lot about each of you.

 

And Gill, I actually didn't think about you. I didn't think about you at all. And I have to say, I didn't think about you because I don't see you putting it out there in the group. I don't have--who is Gill? I don't really know who you are, And I needed to say that, you know? Other people, they're involved. And Gill, when you talk about things, I don't see Gill.

 

JULIUS: That's really important feedback.

 

GILL: But I don't know what to say. I think I've shared a lot with this group. Over my marriage, and over the past year or two, I've laid everything out there that I've come to say.

 

PAM: We know a lot about how Rose feels about you. I don't know that I see you.

 

GILL: Well, in my dealings with Rose, I just let her do whatever she wants. I mean, the--

 

PAM: And isn't that the problem, too?

 

REBECCA: You did go back to her after four hours.

 

GILL: Well, about that, I appreciate the support you guys gave me. And, of course, I appreciate you offering me a place to stay.

Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

STUART: That was Bonnie.

 

GILL: All of you, in the support in that.

 

STUART: Can I just--Pam, I think maybe there was one thing that you missed while you were gone was Gill actually brought a lot of information to the table about his relationship with Rose and the problems they were having. I just--

 

PAM: Yeah, I got a little filled in from Julius.

 

STUART: He may be feeling a little attacked for--

 

PAM: I was just making an observation about how each person felt to me when I was gone, and I just needed to say that.

 

GILL: I think maybe I shared more when you were gone. Everyone else in this group I feel listens, and I feel comfortable with. But honestly, you've always been sort of the Supreme Court justice to me, the judge, when I look at the group.

 

JULIUS: That sounds like it's really important. Can you say more? Are you okay with this, Pam? I know you're just back now and--

 

STUART: She did bring it up--

 

PAM: I'm pretty tapped out in terms of --I mean, I needed to make that comment, you know, about India. But I don't need to deal with too much more. I'm fine with --take it away, Julius.

 

REBECCA: You did bring it up.

 

STUART: Yeah.

 

JULIUS: I think we should respect the fact that you're feeling tapped out, but your feedback to Gill about him not having any kind of place in your internal world, where everybody else in this room did, is very important feedback.

 

We don't know, Gill, what your relationship is like with Rose. I have to say, I was very concerned at the way in which the group kind of encouraged you to leave her, without us really knowing fully what's going on on the other side.

 

So the question I want to ask you is what kind of place would you like to have in Pam's internal world? How would you like to be known?

 

GILL: I guess I would like to be known as, I think, just as Gill, not as her judgment of me and what she puts on me with what I've done. When I talk about Rose, I talk about how she's controlling of me. She won't let me have what I want. She won't give me a child. And it seems to me that you seem to think that's all my fault.

 

PAM: I just don't feel like you're really coming to the table.

 

JULIUS: Any feedback for Gill? Any help for Gill?

 

BONNIE: I'd like to tell Gill I feel the same way. I feel that I know a lot about how people around you feel. Even when you share stories from when you were younger, you tell us about how people are feeling.

 

And if you could share anything right now that would be about you, that would be--I'm sorry, I'm sorry I'm stuttering--that would be about you right now to let us in, would be great.

 

JULIUS: Bonnie, you don't need to say "I'm sorry" every time you have a comment to make. Are you aware that you do that?Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

BONNIE: Yeah. Yes. I just feel like I'm wrong.

 

JULIUS: You just feel like what?

 

BONNIE: I'm wrong. I don't know.

 

JULIUS: Could we flag that and come back to that in a moment?

 

BONNIE: Uh-huh. JULIUS: Because I think that you're on to something really important with Gill. So, I'm going to ask you to push him. Can you do that?

 

BONNIE: Uh-huh. I think so. So, Gill, in your relationship with Rose, you talk a lot about how she's very controlling and she won't give you a child and she's cold to you. Is there any reason why you might think that she would act that way?

 

GILL: I just still am having a hard time feeling that what's going on in my life is all that important, Julius. I can only imagine what you're going through, and here I am complaining about a nagging wife. I mean, in the end, so maybe I don't have a child. Maybe I'm not supposed to have a child.

 

JULIUS: What would it be like--We don't have Rose here. We only can imagine what Rose is like. But let me ask you this question--Rebecca, Bonnie, Pam--if you were married to Gill, based upon what you know of Gill through this group, what would it be like to be his wife? How would that feel?

 

PAM: It would feel like I was outside knocking on a door. And then, I would have to knock louder and knock harder and do different things in order to get attention.

 

REBECCA: I was going to say something similar, actually. I would feel like I was screaming at a wall, trying to get through to you.

 

JULIUS: That's a lot of feedback, Gill. There's a lot in there.

 

GILL: Yeah, I appreciate that.

 

JULIUS: So if you were to remove some of that wall, what would come out? What would get inside of Pam's internal world about you?

 

GILL: I think that I am a very caring person, and I think you would see that. And what I'm looking for is to give the best to somebody. I feel that maybe you or maybe Rose are just not open to receiving that.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

BONNIE: But you're still talking about other people, Gill.

 

REBECCA: You're deflecting.

 

GILL: Okay.

 

JULIUS: Something is breaking down. You see yourself as a good, decent, caring man, and Pam has no sense of you inside of her. And Rebecca and Bonnie are saying the same thing. They're knocking on a door. No one's home. No one's coming to the door. They're withering on the vine.

 

GILL: So, something about myself that hasn't been--I've been dealing with a problem with alcohol for a long time now.

 

STUART: What?

 

BONNIE: What does dealing with a problem with alcohol exactly mean, Gill?

 

REBECCA: He's an alcoholic.

 

BONNIE: That's not what it means. He didn't say that.

 

GILL: I think she's right, Rebecca's right, though. That's right.

 

TONY: How is that affecting your marriage?

 

GILL: Well, I would say it affects it a lot, because what Rose and I had--a lot of what we do, when we meet with our friends, what we do is we go to wine tastings.

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PAM: Gill, when are you doing this? How long have you been here? How long have you been doing this? You've been coming here for like weeks and months.

 

STUART: Three years, I think, almost three years.

 

GILL: It's hard to say--the thing is, there's no line where you say, "Oh, hey, now I'm an alcoholic."

 

JULIUS: Is Rebecca right? Is Rebecca right that your problems are of that kind of proportion?

 

GILL: I would say they are.

 

BONNIE: How often are you drinking?

 

REBECCA: How much do you drink?

 

GILL: Every night.

 

BONNIE: Where do you do it?

 

GILL: At home.

 

REBECCA: Does she not know?

 

GILL: Oh, Rose knows. Yeah, I come home and I --she won't drink with me anymore. That was what we'd do with our friends. I'd come home, have a couple glasses of wine, something good, and then I move on to some scotch.

 

BONNIE: And all this talk about Rose being such a frigid bitch and she won't give you a child? No wonder she won't.

 

REBECCA: No wonder she won't give you a child.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

BONNIE: I don't want to say that. Thank you for sharing. I'm sorry.

 

JULIUS: You're putting yourself, Bonnie, into Rose's shoes a little bit there.

 

BONNIE: Uh-huh. JULIUS: What's it like for people to hear this now?

 

PAM: Well, that was a little bit of coming to the table.

 

STUART: Yeah.

 

PAM: Good job, Gill.

 

REBECCA: I feel like we're all in this group to talk about those kinds of things, and to say, "At what point do you bring it in?"--I mean, this is group therapy. This is what we do, we come here and talk. So, I feel like maybe you've been hiding this for a reason.

 

GILL: I wouldn't say hiding. When I come to the meetings every week, that's the first thing on my mind. That's what I come to say. But it always seems like something else comes up in the group, there are more important things to talk about--especially now.

 

JULIUS: What's it been like, Gill, to come here session after session after session, thinking that "Tonight's the night, I'm going to talk about this very important part of my life," and never do it? What's it like? What's it been like?

 

GILL: It's almost like relief every time I don't talk about it. You know, building it up beforehand, and then I come through to the group and talk to people, but not saying it has been a relief, but not as big a relief as saying it.

 

The one thing I was hoping was that when I did come out with this, you guys --what I was afraid of, I guess, is that you wouldn't let me be part of the group anymore; that because of this problem, you would make me leave and go to AA and wouldn't let me come.

 

JULIUS: So you've really been frightened of our judgment, not just Pam's.

 

GILL: Not just Pam's, everybody. That's the way people look at alcoholics.

 

REBECCA: Gill, no one is sending you to AA.

 

TONY: Unless you want to go.

 

BONNIE: And we'll support you.

 

TONY: Not that I want you to go or leave or anything like that. I'm just saying that--

 

REBECCA: We won't make you go.

 

TONY: --it is a possibility.

 

JULIUS: In fact, it doesn't mean that Gill couldn't continue with us. So let's not throw that option out. But I think right now what we need to look at is you being able to bring this to us today. What's made it possible today? Months and months of not, and tonight, you've been able to.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

GILL: I guess I just couldn't keep it anymore. So much has been happening. And I wanted you to know.

 

JULIUS: Me in particular? Say more.

 

GILL: Well, I feel like I've been keeping that, well, from everyone. But especially you, with what's going on now, I feel like I failed everybody just by keeping that from you. Like I haven't lived up to my part of the bargain, I guess.

 

JULIUS: You want to own that, living up to your part of the bargain.

 

REBECCA: Can I say something?

 

JULIUS: Just before you do, Rebecca, I think it's really important that we not miss that last comment. You want to own up to your part of the bargain, which I think is an incredibly important statement for you to make. Do you feel that?

 

GILL: I do, yeah.

 

JULIUS: If you track the emotion that's attached to that, where does it take you?

 

GILL: I think it starts with shame. And I think it ends up with a bit of pride in taking ownership over.

 

JULIUS: Yeah.

 

I cut you off, Rebecca, but I just didn't want to lose that. And I see you nodding your head in response to what Gill's just been saying.

 

REBECCA: Well, I was just going to say in response that over the last year, you keep talking about Rose, and I know that it's come up a number of times that she won't give you a child. And though it's not word for word, you're basically saying she's not holding up her end of the bargain of your marriage. And I think, with you saying that just now, I feel like that's a very big revelation, because maybe you're not upholding your part of the bargain. I'm not trying to give you shame, but I'm saying that maybe we now know a little bit more of where Rose is coming from.

 

GILL: I think you're right.

 

JULIUS: What's it going to be like going home tonight, Gill, after tonight's meeting?

 

GILL: It's going to be hard. Rose and I don't really talk a whole lot right now, so I'm not really sure what I should tell her about today--or our friends.

 

JULIUS: Other reactions? Comments? Feedback for Gill?

 

Tony, I'm having a little trouble seeing Bonnie. Could I trouble you to move back? Would you mind?

 

BONNIE: Oh, that's okay. You don't need to--

 

JULIUS: I just realized that I haven't been able to see you for the last 20 minutes.

 

BONNIE: I sometimes feel that way in my life. So, I'm used to that. It's okay. What were you going to say, Philip?

 

TONY: Bonnie, you don't need to be so accepting of the fact that that's okay, that you don't feel seen.

 

BONNIE: Well, I feel like Philip was asked a question that he didn't get to answer.

 

PHILIP: I did have a comment for Gill. Gill, I'm one who, at one point in my life, struggled with addiction, although it was of a different form. It was a sexual addiction. And I just want to tell you that what you've done today is just a very important first step, and congratulations.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

TONY: Congratulations.

 

REBECCA: Congratulations, Gill.

 

GILL: Thanks.

 

PAM: I want to say, I feel like I've been in the room with a stranger. I mean, to reveal this after knowing you for so long. And I'm really feeling for Rose right now. I'm seeing her in a whole different light and that's just throwing me.

 

BONNIE: I feel like it's really important that we support Gill in sharing information and not judge him, Pam.

 

JULIUS: You're going to stick to that position, Bonnie?

 

BONNIE: Uh-huh. JULIUS: I notice you didn't retract it.

 

BONNIE: Huh-uh. JULIUS: You didn't say "sorry." Even added, for emphasis, "Pam."

 

BONNIE: I just feel very judged--and I know how Gill feels--by Rebecca.

 

REBECCA: You want to talk about that, Bonnie?

 

STUART: Pam did bring up the --you sort of began this with an attack on Gill and his admission is a response to that.

 

PAM: I was speaking truthfully. And I didn't feel like I was attacking Gill. It was something that was very strong for me that I realized when I was sitting vipassana in India. Gill was nowhere in there.

 

And now, Gill, you're somewhere. You're right here right now. And that's -

 

PHILIP: Due to you, Pam.

 

TONY: Yeah, I mean, Pam, you were a catalyst, in a sense, by calling you out, Gill, and allowing you the opportunity to share what you've been holding back from telling us.

 

REBECCA: You asked a question.

 

PHILIP: But the victory is to Gill, not to Pam.

 

TONY: Could you elaborate on that at all?

 

PHILIP: I've been noticing in Pam's brief inclusion, as I've been a member of the group, that it does seem to be Pam-centric. Gill has a great personal growth and revelation and it comes back to Pam. No more, no less.

 

PAM: You know, I think I said a long time ago in this session that I was tapped out, and really didn't need to have the focus on me.

 

PHILIP: And there you are again.

 

PAM: Gill came up with something, and now Bonnie's come up with something. Can we bring that back?

 

TONY: Knowing that you're tapped out, is there a way you can receive what Philip just said and not today have to deal with it? Rebecca was right earlier when she said that--or was it you, Gill, that said--you often dismiss what Philip's been saying? Just saying that you don't have to deal with it right now but -

 

PAM: Okay, I'll think about it.

 

JULIUS: Okay.

 

BONNIE: Can I make a comment?

 

JULIUS: You don't need to raise your hand to make a comment.

 

REBECCA: May I talk in the group?

 

JULIUS: You don't need to.

 

REBECCA: Good. Stuart has removed himself from the circle again.

 

STUART: Sorry.

 

PHILIP: And what effect did that have on you?

 

REBECCA: Well, I just kept having to turn to see where he was, and he's incessantly clicking his pen.

 

STUART: Thank you.

 

REBECCA: I'm not angry, it was just bothering me.

 

JULIUS: If you weren't doing this with your pen, what might you be doing?

 

STUART: Well, I think there's a lot that's been going on. I don't want to take the attention. The focus doesn't need to be on me right now. Clearly, there's a lot of energy happening in the room right now.

 

JULIUS: And your relationship to that energy?

 

STUART: Well, I felt the one comment that I did make a few moments ago sort of got shot down by Pam. And my intent was not to attack, but merely to recount the sequence of events that we had gone through. So, I didn't feel like I was adding anything productive, or it wasn't received as such by the group. And that's okay. That's okay.

 

JULIUS: It's okay, yet you're clicking your pen and inching back away from the rest of the group.

 

STUART: I was not intentionally. I apologize. It didn't even notice until Rebecca said something about it.

 

JULIUS: But you're communicating something, obviously, that Rebecca picked up on.

 

STUART: I guess, again, I feel like there were some bigger issues at play that maybe I wasn't a part of, that were happening in the room just then. And I didn't want to get in the way of those things working themselves out.

 

JULIUS: You didn't want to get in the way.

 

STUART: Well, I felt that the few times I spoke were not helpful. Or didn't seem to be helpful. Or they didn't feel helpful to me. I felt a little disregarded.

 

REBECCA: Stuart just said "feel."

 

BONNIE: I assure you, I feel that way, too. A lot.

 

TONY: Which way?

 

BONNIE: Disregarded by the group.

 

TONY: All the time?

 

BONNIE: Yes. I mean, Rebecca is so deft at getting the attention brought back to her. Even though she's talking about somebody else, she's really talking about herself so that she can get attention. And you always listen to her and give you all of your focus, and I sometimes feel like --may I ask a question to all of you?Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

TONY: Please.

 

BONNIE: Why do you not look me in the eye when I talk, and listen a lot? Why don't you give me the attention sometimes I feel like you give Rebecca, because she is beautiful?

 

TONY: I'm not really aware that I don't give you that attention, from my perspective, in answering your question.

 

BONNIE: Just the other session, I was talking about my daughter, and we brought up about the bar that she went to. And you had a story about the bar fight that you had there, and we just dropped all conversation about--

 

JULIUS: Bonnie, I'm aware of the time. I know, I know. But that's why I want to speak to you. I hope that you're going to be able to hear me, that I wish we had more time right now.

 

BONNIE: I wish we had more time together, too.

 

JULIUS: Yeah, but we have more time next session and the session after that and after that. And I think that we have done a lot of work today. And again, Pam, it's great having you back.

 

PAM: Thanks, Julius.

 

JULIUS: I know this has been hard. We've got lots of stuff to talk about. But we opened up a lot of really great issues.

 

And your comment, Bonnie, when you addressed Pam directly about judgment, I think is something worth looking at. Because I would hate, Gill, for you to leave this meeting feeling criticized for finally speaking to us. It's very important that we be able to recognize how important it is for you to bring that here, and not punish you for not having been able to do it before. That's really an important point.

 

You've been instrumental, Bonnie, in bringing that forward. And when you say, "How come no one looks at me?" my response is it is good that you are able to recognize that, and you want to push us to look at that with you.

 

We have worked, I think, a lot today. I'm going to stop now. I look forward to seeing you all next week.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Interesting. Very interesting meeting. Very odd experience for me to hear this, because I wrote this group in another fashion, and I feel critical at some level for them not doing it the way I said to do it. They're getting to some of the same issues. I have to really get that set out of my mind and just pretend this is a pure, new meeting, the members struggling and doing things in an entirely different way.

 

You may take note, I don't think Molyn made a single comment today that wasn't on the process. I can't remember a single one. And every comment he made had something to do with what was going with some member of the group or other members of the group. It was all addressed. It wasn't outside stuff. It was all what's going on here in the group.

 

I do the same thing. I rarely make comments in the group that aren't in the here-and-now. Molyn started off saying he's a little worried about --that's funny, because the theme came up in the meeting, wasn't it, about being judged? And that was an important issue, because Gill felt he was going to be judged by others in the group. He commented that Pam was the chief justice in here.

 

And I think we got at that in an interesting way. It was a slightly different way in the novel, which was if somebody talks about --Molyn did it in this way.

 

Let's make a backtrack. He makes a comment that he's an alcoholic, and the group immediately is jumping on that issue--how much do you drink, when? Outraged they hadn't heard this before. All these things.

 

But Molyn goes back to a cardinal rule of group therapy, which is when people make a revelation, they should not be punished for it in any way. So, he wanted to make sure that Gill wasn't being punished. And instead, he tried to focus onto process.

 

Not "How much did you drink?" But "What was it like for you to tell us that today?"

 

And then, he even pushed back even further. "What was it like for you to come to this meeting other times and not tell us today?"

 

You see? And then that led into--that could lead into, it wasn't quite in that sequence in this group, but that would lead into Gill saying, "I was afraid to mention that in this group."

 

And then, you could say, "What were you afraid of?"

 

"Oh, I'd be judged."

 

And then, it's almost reflex on the group therapist's part, because you say, "You'll be judged by whom?"

 

People say by everybody. Never buy it. They don't feel the same about every person in the group. So, you ask them, "Who? Who are the judges in this room?"

 

And that's, in another version of this meeting, that's how he got to the chief justice, to Pam, and other people began to talk about their sense of Pam's judgmentalism also.

 

Almost all the members, first of all, they had to deal a lot with this very, very strange situation, with Pam coming into a meeting where she's been away for a few meetings. She sees someone in there who had been someone who had been very destructive to her in her life, and she's full of rage. And, in the way that the group could take place, that could be a chief problem in the group.

 

Molyn did what a therapist has to do. The main thing he's got to do is to keep the group intact. If the group's not intact, if the group explodes, then you don't have anything to work with.

 

So, he's worried about group cohesion, he's worried about keeping everyone in the group. He's getting commitments from each of those members to stay in the group.

 

They're both pretty stubborn. Philip is saying, in effect, "I paid my six months. I'm going to pay my six months. I may have already. I ain't leaving no matter what."

 

And then, Pam is also encouraged to stay because of her long-term and pretty loving relationship with the other members of the group.

 

So, once we get that, we know that we have a big problem there, and we have to see how far it can go. So, the group members and the leader kind of found out from Pam, "How much can you take today?"

 

Members will feel a little bit more in control if there's a drastic situation and they get to monitor it. They can at least say, "I can do about five more minutes of this."

 

Or, "I'm just about tapped out at this point."

 

So, have them --he kept going back to Pam and letting her control about how much of this could she take today.

 

Once both members are in the group, you can bet that two members in great conflict with one another, chances are, they will be two very important members to one another. They will be important. When the group is over years later, they will say they really learned a great deal from that person being in the group. In fact, in the novel, the last chapter starts just with that observation.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

So, each member got talked about. There was a question of Rebecca preening for Philip and some comments about Stuart being a camera, about Stuart's chair being pushed slightly out of the circle.

 

That's a little autobiographical one for me. There was a group that I was meeting with for some time, and suddenly one of the members noticed, "Your chair," to one of the members, "is always out of the circle. Not much--an inch or two--but it's always there."

 

That was an enormously important intervention as we began to get into the fact that he's never entirely there. And now, we understood why he came in saying, "My wife keeps saying I am not present. I'm there, I've there with her, but I ain't present." So, in the group, there was that microcosm, a kind of metaphor, where he was not quite present in the group.

 

So on a number of occasions, Stuart talked and the group members began to question "Well, where's the feeling in there?"

 

At one point, he said, "I would like you to stay" as his feeling. Well, there's a little bit of a feeling in there. It wasn't much. Molyn gave him the benefit of the doubt for that being a feeling. I wouldn't have.

 

But Molyn started this meeting saying that he has this concern about being supervised by me. That feels sort of strange. For years and years and years, when I was lecturing to large audiences, I had the secret internal image of fear as I talked that sometime some gray-haired analytic eminence was going to stand up and say, "This is bullshit!"

 

But for a long time now, I've never had to worry about that, because I'm the oldest person around in here and I would never do that. One advantage--there are not a whole lot, but one advantage in growing old.

 

Another advantage is--I'm really free-associating here--another advantage is a metaphor that Schopenhauer pointed out, one that's really a nice metaphor. I can't quote it exactly, but it had to do with that when you're young--he's looking at a piece of embroidery and how beautiful it seems when you look at the embroidery--when you get old, you see the reverse side of the embroidery. It's not very pretty to look at, but at least you see all the threads are connected, so that there is some advantage in growing old; you begin to see how things are connected in life.

 

Back to the circle. On several occasions, the group circled back to Molyn, because he's the big --in a sense, he's the elephant in the room that can't be talked about, his death. And they came back to this and came back to this, as they always will. It's always going to be present in the group.

 

And he is saying, in effect, to them, "I'm willing to talk about it. I'm dealing with it. I'm speaking with a lot of people in my life. I feel I have the energy to be in this group. And, not only that, the group vitalizes me. And the worse thing you can do, really, is to isolate yourselves from me."

 

Being in a group with a dying person, working in some way--if you're a therapist or a member, or a member is the dying person in the group--without fail, it will start to stir up a lot of anxiety in the group, because if you're going to engage that person, it will mean that you're going to, at some level, begin to confront your own death. Nightmares will start to appear, and anxiety will start to appear, as well. So, that's always going to be part of the horizon of this group. It makes it a very unusual group.

 

Molyn asked a very interesting question to Bonnie, I think. He asked her the question, "Well, if you were going to be married to"--Was it to Gill? It was to Gill. "If you're going to be married to Gill --you're with him here one hour a day, but if you were with him 24 hours a day, what would that be like?"

 

He's trying to help the members find ways to talk about them, trying to break down the barriers of conventional etiquette.

 

The big revelation in this group had to do, of course, not only with Pam and Philip, but also with the alcoholism. The alcoholism came out, and then work was done there so that he wouldn't feel scapegoated, so that they would acknowledge that he had done this--it was a brave thing to do. Molyn is suggesting very quickly that AA and group therapy are not incompatible at all, and that a daily AA meeting continue.

 

Because the work is, of course, so different. They're very different. Occasionally, you go to A.A. meetings where they may be able a little what they call "cross-talking" there. Generally not. You do not do any cross-talking. Members do not talk to one another. It's not this kind of interaction. A.A. groups just simply don't work with this sort of direction.

 

They do other kinds of things that are useful, and people tell their stories, they empathize with others, they identify, they get moral lessons taught to them as they see what's happened to others, they get reminded of what it was like for them to be in the throes of alcoholism, but they do not work on interpersonal interaction and skills.

 

Let's see. Molyn used a technique with Stuart, when his chair went back and he was clicking on his pen. "So, what would you do if you weren't clicking on the pen?"

 

It didn't get huge results in this time, but by and large, it's using that kind of conditional voice. "If you weren't doing this, then what might you be doing?"

 

So, it's a way of asking people to reveal, but at one step removed. It's a little safer. "If you were going to tell me what's on your mind, what would you say?"

 

You do that all the time. It usually works like magic.

 

Okay, so those are the comments off the top of my head. Any other thoughts? Molyn, do you want to say anything else?

 

MOLYN: Sure. I found the group kind of really mesmerized my attention very quickly, and that it felt like group. It didn't feel, in fact, that there was an audience, other than for the occasional laughter, which is, to me, a sign that I'm really involved with what's happening. I was heartened by that.

 

Oftentimes, we have to activate the group. This was a group that did not need activation, so I felt a lot of my activity was focused on the second part of the therapist's responsibility, which is to try to make sense of experience, and to maximize the learning that could follow from the risks people were taking.

 

I felt satisfied with the way in which we got to Gill, even though it's different that the novel. People know one another through the group experience, and through that, can put themselves sometimes into the shoes of important people in that group member's life. And I found that's a way to kind of bring back into the room issues around Gill, in terms of what it would be like to be married to him.

 

I thought when Pam said, "I thought about everyone except you, Gill," that that was a kind of gift to the therapist, because it allows you then to dive right in to what it is about what is it about Gill that keeps him so absent. And then, little by little, we kind of ratcheted up the pressure on Gill, and he was able to make a very significant self-disclosure to the group.

 

And then, interestingly enough--and I think this a reflection of how deep in role Pam is--that everyone in the group quickly was able to get to embracing Gill for his disclosure, except for Pam, who was still kind of holding on to the criticalness.

 

So when Bonnie was able to kind of highlight that, I kind of jumped all over that, for two reasons. One reason, Bonnie, as we know, it's very hard for her kind of to make her voice felt, make her voice heard. And it kind of struck me, and I commented, that I couldn't see Bonnie, and hadn't been aware of the fact that I couldn't see Bonnie. Once I became aware of the fact that I was unaware of the fact, then it became data, interpersonal data, that had to be mined.

 

And then, you were able to give Pam some feedback about her judgmentalism, which was critically important, so that Gill doesn't leave feeling the criticism after this important self-disclosure. Groups lock people into roles. And as a therapist, when you see some kind of shift, evolution beyond that role, you want to make sure that it doesn't get lost, that it doesn't get extinguished by virtue of people failing to see the advance.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

The reason that people can't see the advance often is linked to their own kind of stuff. But some of it has to do with group-wide pressures about keeping people in familiar positions. So I wanted to jump all over that.

 

Similarly, I feel in some ways Philip has the most taxing position to take. So I felt myself paying very, very close attention to any kind of hint, any kind of smell, of a feeling, and wanting to try to jump all over that.

 

Because ultimately, as a therapist, you have to believe that someone like Philip is damaged rather than evil. And you have to, as a therapist, keep working with that principle, so that you can empathize with the behavior that sometimes may be so antagonistic and adversarial to others in the group. Sometimes you have a difficult task of being the advocate for the antagonist.

 

If Philip would have been able to say, "Pam, I'm sorry"--look Pam in the face--of course, he'd be way ahead of where he is right now. But we have to kind of nourish that as much as possible. I felt that we were able to kind of make some movement with that.

 

There was so much going on in the group that I knew that I couldn't get to everything in the 55 minutes that we had. But I tried to make it a point to not neglect it, but to, in fact, say, "Okay, we'll flag it. We'll come back to it later," so that people know that you're alert to their change. Because if your patients imagine that what you've done is ignored by the therapist, or ignored by others in the group, it's going to extinguish that risk-taking. It's going to extinguish that line of work. So we want to behaviorally reinforce that.

 

And I felt, so far, my transparency has really been focused upon my here-and-now reaction to the meaning and feelings I have about what's been happening in the group. There is, at the same time, as I know, a big agenda, which is the group dealing with my illness. And we will, I imagine, in time, get to that.

 

So, those are some of my preliminary thoughts.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Yeah, I think you're commenting on the fact that you were sort of opening up your own dilemma. You're saying, "There are different things here and I'm in a dilemma; if I pay attention to one, I'll have to pass on the other--for now, at least," which is an awfully good sharing. In a sense, you're saying, "I have a dilemma. I want to talk about both things, and I have to take a choice, but we'll come back to that." So, I thought that was important.

 

And then, I agree entirely, there's a big problem with dealing with the illness. And perhaps the therapist is making it a little harder for the group by using slight euphemisms like "I'm unwell."

 

May be that if he came right out with "I've got cancer," you know, something like that, that that might jar them a little bit and help them be more direct with him, because they're taking their cues from him in this meeting.

 

So they get a little bit of cues that they shouldn't be going too far into it.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Well, that was a fascinating group and discussion. In your remarks, you commented that Molyn's interventions were almost entirely process-oriented. And you've talked about that before, but I think it would be helpful to clarify exactly what you mean by that.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Yeah, I think that's a good question, because "process" is used in so many different ways in our field, and in other fields, too.

 

I'm thinking of process as distinguished from content. If you have two people speaking to one another, what they're saying, the words they're saying, the concepts that they're talking about is content.

 

But if you ask about process, you're asking another kind of question. It's, "What do these words tell you about the nature of the relationship of the people involved in there." And that's where pay dirt is in a therapy group.

 

We'll hear content for a while, but then we turn it back to process. What are these people feeling? What are these people saying about one another?

 

VICTOR YALOM: So, just to be real clear, if someone is talking about some difficulties in their marriage, and they're going on and on and on, oblivious to other group members, the content would be their marriage, but the process might be that they're really very unaware of other members, or narcissistic even, or something like that?

 

IRVIN YALOM: It's a terrific example, because if you spend the group talking about their marriage, it's not going to be a profitable group. But if you spend the group on how they have a lack of empathy for other people in the group, how they're not asking the question, "What do all these people think about my taking 25 minutes and talking about my marriage?" you're going to get much more work done in that group.

 

The power is in that dimension. The group's power is not in one person taking the whole group meeting and another person taking the whole group meeting.

 

VICTOR YALOM: So, in this group, we saw some examples of process--Pam got a lot of feedback about how she's the judger, the Supreme Court judge.

 

And Gill, his problems in his marriage. It would be hard to really find out what--He painted a picture of what's happening in the marriage, but by focusing on the process of how people experience him in the group, and even Molyn's asking members what it would be like to be married to him, that's a way of working on a process basis.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Yes, both of those examples are excellent ways of using a group. The first one, people talk about they feel like they're being judged by people. It's one of my traits: "I'm being judged by people."

 

Well, the good group therapist, I think, will automatically change that into, "Who's judging you here? Who's the main judge here?"

 

VICTOR YALOM: So you make it specific.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Make it specific. "Who's the judge here?" And they may point out a person or two, and then you get some consensual validation from the others--whether they disagree with that, they don't see these people as judge, and that tell you something about his inner world. If everybody kind of agrees with that, then Pam is really compelled to kind of take a look at her judgmentalism.

 

And the other that you mentioned--was it Gill, I think?

 

VICTOR YALOM: Yes.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Yeah, when Gill talks about his problems with his marriage. It's always difficult to do marital therapy when only one member of the team is there. You find yourself making mistakes all the time.

 

VICTOR YALOM: Well, in this case, he's been in the group a long time and he reveals that he actually had a serious alcohol problem.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Right.

 

VICTOR YALOM: So, that's an example. You could never get the truth just hearing the content of what he's saying.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Yeah. For a long time, everybody was very angry with the wife for what she was doing. After he mentioned that, people understood the wife a lot better.

 

And the device that Molyn used in that was to ask the other members, "Well, just imagine for a while what it would be like to be married to Gill--not just spend an hour and a half a week, but to spend 24 hours a day. What do you feel like?"

 

He's not asking for insults here. He's asking for problems that they would see in not getting close to Gill and not being in a loving relationship with him. I think that's a terrific question, and it's a way to really bring out the power of the group.

 

I want to mention, too, that this is a complex situation. We're letting these patients go wherever they go, and we're trying to take a look at how these problems enfold in a huge multitude of ways. So, this is, I think, the most complex of all therapies.Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment

 

There are simpler ways of doing a group. You have a manual. They tell you what to do one session, what to do in another session. As the therapist, you feel a lot better, you feel safer.

 

But leading groups like this takes time.

 

You should be in a group like this for yourself. You should be supervised by the group. But when that happens, it becomes a very complex--and also very rich--kind of human experience.

 

VICTOR YALOM: I think as we now watch the second group, one of the things to pay attention to is exactly that: how artfully Molyn is able to attend to many issues of members at the same time. It's kind of like a traffic cop who's also juggling balls at the same time.

 

And if two people are having an issue, they're not the only ones that are working, because someone is observing and they're having their own reactions they can share later. So, I think he does a masterful job of that.

 

IRVIN YALOM: Exactly.

 

VICTOR YALOM: So let's take a look, and then we'll meet back one more time.

Group Processes and Stages of Formation Assignment