Book Review: Traumatic Experience in the Unconscious Life of Groups.
The Fourth Basic Assumption: Incohesion: Aggregation: Massification
Jaime Ondarza Linares
Hopper’s central point is that ‘in the context of basic assumptions in general, Incohesion: Aggregation: Massification is a basic assumption, and if so, is it a fourth basic assumption or a first assumption?’ As is well known, the three Bionian Basic Assumptions constitute a protomentality to which individuals in a group, who are polarized in a particular valence, conform as a defence against psychotic anxieties which are mostly conceived according to Kleinian principles. Hopper claims that the model of ‘human development’ of the independent psychoanalyst implies that the fear of annihilation and the fear of separation is rooted within the traumatogenic process and is at the heart of the human condition. And – ‘It follows that there are at least four psychotic anxieties and at least four defensive or protective basic assumptions’. It also follows that incohesion should be called the first basic assumption. Hopper postulates a ‘pre-schizoid position’ (remembering Hodgen’s ‘autistic contiguous position’) in which the development of crustacean and amoeboid defences against the fear of annihilation are constructed. The concept and the significance of trauma is essential. The fourth (or ‘first’) basic assumption ‘develops within the context of a traumatogenic process within a transgenerational context’. Thus the b.a. is generated in a relational process (pathogenesis) and subsequently the affected members tend to perpetuate it in the social unconscious, being re-enacted (personalized) in groups under special (pathoplastic) conditions.
I would like to mention in passing some related thought: the traumatogenic process introjected during the pre-schizoid position of individual members, constitutes not only a protomental and predominantly transient projective status as in the classical Bionian A.B., but a sort of relational stigma or pre-structure, that could be located in a ‘metapsychological topos’.
Group Analysis 2004:37
The eminent Earl Hopper provides many excellent articles in the journal Group Analysis. Available via Sage Journals, and especially so during their free trial, the one that ends very soon, and the one you’re all going to tell your local academic library about. eh?