Personality and the group matrix

Sigmund Karterud, E Folmo, MT Kongerslev

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review


Foulkes' concept of the group matrix is foundational for group analysis. However, its content should progress in parallel with new knowledge in areas that concern its essence. Influential authors have recently proposed a tripartite matrix as well as constitutive four modalities for understanding others. In this article we contend that personality theory has important implications for a modern understanding of the matrix. We have recently formulated a new theory of personality, based on three major constituents: temperament (primary emotions), attachment, and self-consciousness (mentalizing). All communication and relations between humans are coloured by these constituents. Temperament is the term for evolutionary inbuilt motivational systems that provide the basic energy and emotional quality to interpersonal transactions. Attachment is the individual's unique template for interpersonal relatedness. And, mentalizing refers to the continuous reflection and interpretation of the content and process of intersubjective communication. These constituents likewise underpin and shape the communicative web in groups, the matrix. There is emotional energy in groups, there is preferred and avoided (types of) interpersonal relations, and there are different levels of reflective capacity (mentalizing), both at the level of the individual and the group. The main task of the group conductor is to create a therapeutic social system that in some defined way is different from the matrix of everyday social groups. S/he has to counteract the principle of entropy, a drift in the direction of an ordinary, daily, matter-of-fact discourse, which can take place in any everyday setting. We illustrate our views with a group therapy case where the therapists succeed in creating a highly productive group sequence (matrix), and where the protagonist clearly increases her mentalizing capacity, followed by a sequence (in the same group session) where the therapists abdicate from the role of matrix creators and the group declines to common talk.
Sider (fra-til)503-519
TidsskriftGroup analysis
Udgave nummer4
StatusUdgivet - 2019


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