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Experiences in Groups: and Other Papers Paperback – November 1, 1968

ISBN-13: 978-0415040204 ISBN-10: 0415040205 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"Since Bion's papers on groups appeared... they have made a profound impact on social psychologists... Published within one relatively slight volume, the full status of this remarkable contribution is more readily appreciated... no one working with groups should be without this book for periodic re-reading." - The International Journal of Psychoanalysis

About the Author

W. R. Bion (1906-79) is a major figure in psychoanalysis.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (March 22, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415040205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415040204
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #640,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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69 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Matthew M Cruger on June 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Reader beware! Bion did something great here. In a detailed analysis of people's behavior in groups, he shows us that some strange and often unsettling subterranean processes are at work within groups. While these processes (and the events that follow them) may defy the understanding and description of most, Bion offers insights that are at once straightforward, bizarre and sublime. In the end, his ideas provide the reader with simple, psychodynamic explanations of group behavior.
Bion points out that much of psychic human life occurs inside groups. Bion shows us that each group has a specific and directed goal to accomplish (i.e., a corporation seeks to make money and a family seeks to raise their children and provide support for the members within it). He then provides a fascinating and detailed account of the ways that these groups are often subverted from their main purpose. Bion focuses on the "basic assumptions" that lead people in groups to function in unusual ways that are frequently, if not always, outside of their awareness.
Bion suggests that there are "basic assumptions" which take over in a group. Some of these assumptions are that of "Fight/Flight" or "Pairing". Bion suggests that at times, a group will abandon their work in order to unite for either fighting or fleeing. He suggests that humans are `herding' at these times-we find ourselves in a group and we think we either need to get ready for a war or to run for the hills. This unconscious assumption, based solely on being together in a group, can severely detract from the work the group was originally brought together to accomplish. Think of those peewee football leagues gone awry.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Barbara - Jean Kibby on May 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is so filled with information that I can only read a small amount at a time, then I have to put it down so that I can absorb the content. It is written in plain English, but the ideas expressed require a great deal of thought. It explains exactly how groups function. It is a revelation to someone such as me. No wonder it is considered a classic. I consider it on a par with Jung's Memories Dreams and reflections.
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By Richard Zeile on November 2, 2014
Format: Unknown Binding Verified Purchase
This is a slim 175-page paperback, but it is not easy reading. Nor is it particularly well-organized; but it is thought-provoking about experiences in groups. Bion worked in the military with therapy groups in the 1940's/50's and attempts to analyze his experiences building on the basis of Freudian psycho-analysis.Finding no evidence for a herd instinct, he does argue a basic 3-fold pattern. First is the dependent group where members depend on the leader, individually expecting attention. The "Church" is the archtype of such a group where the members depend on the Deity. Second is the Flight/fight group where the members have a shared fear (or anger) and await the signal (whoever gives the signal functions as leader, manipulated by the group as much as the group by the leader) to discharge their emotion in concrete action that manifests either fight or flight. The archtype here is the "Army." The third kind of group configuration/dynamic is the pairing group in which members become interested (often subconsciously) in developing a relationship between 2 members.This will lead to something, and since Freudian attraction is always at base libidinous, the pairing is expected to lead to a new idea ("brainchild"?) which will solve everything, psychicly speaking. This archtype is "Messianic," in Bion's view.
Other elements in Bion's observations include the basic group, which is the circumstance of the yet unstructured group; the emotional field that a group generates; and the work group which is focused on a task with the members clear in their parts. This appears to me to be yet another structure or classification, but Bion does not discuss it in those terms.
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Experiences in Groups: and Other Papers
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