You, me, and us

Given our adoration of the INDIVIDUAL it’s ironic but no wonder that as a “group” our  culture fell in love with individually focused Freudian psychodynamic theory.  We all subscribe  to the notion of  individual responsibility, individual effort, and individual reward. Even in our team sports we filter out the reality of team effort and give awards to the most valuable player. Lately, given that some of the individual rewards “earned” in the banking and finance industry have become suspect in their structure and the system that encouraged those individuals to put organizations (and other individuals) at risk is also under review, we might hope that this adoration could move toward a more adult appreciation that the individual is always  a  member of  a group.

That means that most of the time, most individuals will do whatever the group decides is the right thing for its individual members to do. There is no shortage of studies that confirm this. Psychodynamic theories do not explain this behavior, nor are they intended to. Theories emerging from social psychology do, and in the beginning was Moreno’s work in Sociometry and Psychodrama. Unfortunately  the love affair with the INDIVIDUAL left no room in our cultural heart for learning what we needed to know about how we behave in groups. This learning is politically suspect. The idea that each of us may not  be the “captains” of our ship is still met with an anxiety that manifests itself as resistance. Only to the extent that we recognize our roles in each group to which we belong, and only to the extent that each group recognizes that its interests are unavoidably related to the interests of the other groups that share our space, can we move ourselves to  a better place.

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