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by Robert M. Young

I think it might be helpful to say something about the introduction of the group relations perspective and group relations events into a new environment. Indeed, most of the preceding chapters were written as a part of that process.

In 1992 I was invited to give two seminars in an annual ‘Psychoanalytic Week’ which had been established in Sofia, Bulgaria, on the initiative of David Reason, a member of staff at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury where I was then a Visiting Professor. The setting was truly bizarre. Our sessions were held in the bar area of the Palace of Culture, a truly imposing, huge concrete edifice in the centre of a capital city which is, to put it mildly, not well-known in the West. We were treated well, the people who attended the sessions were thoughtful and enthusiastic, and I felt that my presentations on week’s theme of ‘Psychoanalysis and Culture’ went down well. (They are reproduced in this volume.)

At a certain point I was approached by the person who, it turned out, had created the space for these annual meetings, a psychiatrist named Toma Tomov. He was a gentle, unassuming man, and it took me some time to discover what a remarkable person he is. He asked me what I would do if faced with the problem of how to introduce psychoanalysis into Bulgaria. I don’t think that he told me then, but it later emerged that there is no psychotherapeutic training at all in the Bulgarian psychiatric or clinical psychologists’ trainings. Nor are there any trained psychotherapists in the country. Indeed, the whole of medicine included no clinical supervision as we understand it in the West. Moreover, until we managed to alter the situation, there were practically no psychoanalytic or psychodynamic texts in the country, and so on and on.

Bulgaria is a country of eight million people. University education is by rote learning. Toma Tomov had taken a leading part in setting up a new university, called the New Bulgarian University, based on a whole new way of thinking. The head of the university, Professor Bogdan Bogdanov, and he had managed to get this going in the climate following the end of Soviet and communist regimes in 1989. Toma Tomov had gathered around him a number of young people, some psychiatric trainees, some psychologists, others from various fields. He had established a Psychoanalytic Club with half a dozen members. However, they had no clinical programme, no psychoanalytic supervision and, initially, practically no books.

What had struck him most forcibly in my presentations was the material in my second seminar about group relations. He felt that this was exactly what was needed in Bulgaria — a way of bringing people together, eliciting their most primitive anxieties and exposing them to critical scrutiny in a containing setting.

We rapidly became collaborators in an effort to set up training programmes in Psychoanalytic Studies, Psychotherapy and Group Relations. The university had been set up by the Open Society Fund, a charitable organization established by the multi-millionaire currency speculator who had made a billion by betting against the British pound on Black Wednesday in 1992. Among his many charitable activities, Soros had given over a hundred million dollars and set up a Central European University as well as the NBU. The head of the university, Prof. Bogdanov, was also the main representative of Soros’ charities in Bulgaria, and Toma had his confidence.

The upshot of all this was the first group relations conference in Eastern Europe. Here is what I wrote about the conference in the Kent Centre Bulletin, (Spring 1993):




On December 18-22, 1992, there was a new and inspiring event in Bulgaria, which its sponsors and participants believe could make a significant difference to the development of democracy in the country. It was sponsored by George Soros, a Hungarian and a Jewish refugee from the Nazis who was inspired by Karl Popper’s contrast between totalitarian or ‘closed’ societies and democratic or ‘open’ ones which he encountered is an undergraduate at the London School of Economics. He emigrated to America and went on to make a fortune from investments. More recently, he made a billion dollars last November from speculating against the pound. Among his other philanthropic activities in Eastern Europe through the Open Society Fund, he is supporting psychoanalytic studies in Bulgaria and the work of staff members of the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies at Kent.

There is a strong and developing link between the Centre and the New Bulgarian University in Sofia. It has grown largely through relationships built up by David Reason with people in Sofia who are interested in psychoanalysis and related subjects. There was a week-long conference on ‘Psychoanalysis and Culture’ last Easter, which included contributions by Nicola Worledge (a Kent graduate student working on psychoanalysis and aesthetics), Dave Reason and me. Each of us gave lectures and led discussion groups, and I gave a clinical supervision. (See her account in Bulletin no. 4, 1992, p. 6.)

As a result of the success of that conference, an ambitious programme was conceived which is intended to involve four closely-related activities: training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and in group psychotherapy, a graduate degree in psychoanalytic studies and a regular series of conferences on group relations. I have been appointed by the New Bulgarian University as co-ordinator of the overall programme. David Reason has spent the autumn term in Sofia lecturing, giving seminars and individual tuition and providing invaluable help to the New Bulgarian University in setting up teaching programmes and other aspects of open-ended and experiential learning. This has been particularly useful, since the teaching of university subjects in Bulgaria has hitherto suffered from rote learning and has not been good at fostering creativity and individual initiative. Part of the raison d’Ítre of the New Bulgarian University is to foster more democratic and innovative ways of teaching, learning and doing research. The creation of the university, Dave’s visit and our conferences have been funded by George Soros’ aptly-named Open Society Fund.

It is not easy to convey the problems which lie in the path of setting up the programme, which has been developed by Professor Toma Tomov, the Deputy-Director of the university and our main Bulgarian colleague and mentor, Dave Reason and me. For example, there are practically no books and teaching materials in these fields and no foreign currency to buy them. Individuals and institutions in Britain have begun to make gifts of books, periodicals and offprints, but the need is very great. Moreover, there are no qualified psychotherapists in the country. Since undergoing individual psychotherapy is a central feature of training as a psychotherapist, a way will have to be found to provide therapy for the trainees. Either someone will have to live there for a number of years, someone will have to fly in every week for three days, or trainees will have to come abroad for their therapy. Experience has shown that people who go abroad rarely go back, and no qualified person has yet been found to go there for years or for forty-plus three-day periods per year. I believe, however, that this problem can be overcome and that visiting teachers will also be found who will be interested in being among those who will go out and give lectures, seminars and supervisions for the requisite thirty weekends per year. We are in the final stage of preparing an overall budget and applying for major funding for the various modules of the programme. People who have been approached to take part have been very enthusiastic about the programme, which promises to provide the most comprehensive training in Europe.

One aspect of the overall scheme which we could get on with is group relations, since it could be launched without the overall project being established. This is because the usual mode of teaching in this field is an intensive conference which can last for days, a week or two weeks. The approach was evolved by Wilfred Bion (see his Experiences in Groups, 1961) and others and developed at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations under the leadership of A. K. Rice. It involves the intensive study of authority, leadership and autonomy by individuals taking part in a temporary institution. This is achieved by members monitoring their own experience in the process of taking part in the individual, group and institutional dynamics of the conference itself. That is, it is a particularly intense form of experiential learning which concentrates on interpreting the constantly shifting, dynamic unconscious processes which mediate the relations between the individual and the group in the ‘here and now’. The group relations model is an equivalent to the psychoanalytic method as a tool of social and cultural enquiry, and the members of the conference are encouraged to make links to their wider experiences in organisational and social life. When Professor Tomov first learned about this approach he immediately saw its promise for facilitating change from the rigid bureaucratic methods which prevailed under communism.

Although there is now an annual two-week group relations conference at Leicester and frequent ones on the Continent, in Israel, America, Australia, India and elsewhere, there have been practically no previous group relations events in Eastern Europe. The only one we have heard about went so badly that a leading figure in the field was led to warn us off from attempting it. Indeed, our Bulgarian colleagues got cold feel in the penultimate planning stage and had to be persuaded to see it through. The sense of risk and weight of responsibility on the shoulders of Toma Tomov were very great, and the British team approached the event with considerable trepidation.

The Director of the conference is one of the leading figures in the field, David Armstrong, Director of the Grubb Institute in London [He has since moved to the Tavistock Centre Consultancy Service.}. Both he and Gordon Lawrence, Director of Imago East-West [and now also Visiting Professor at Cranefield University], have decades of experience conducting group relations conferences. Miranda Feuchtwang, a child psychotherapist, has also been a staff member of a number of such conferences, as has Paul Hoggett, who specialises in group work with local government officials [and has since set up an MA in Group Relations at the University of the West of England, where he is Professor of Politics]. Tara Weeramanthri, a consultant psychiatrist, has had considerable experience in working with the Leicester conference model (the main paradigm in the field). I had been a member at a Leicester conference and have been trained as a group psychotherapist, but this was my first experience as a staff member.

There was, of course, the problem of languages. This was solved by appointing a Bulgarian colleague to work with each member of the British team. They were interpreters at the same time that they were trainee staff members. This combination of roles was a tough one to carry out, since staff members are the objects of intense projections in all the conference events, and the people involved had no previous experience. The Bulgarian staff included three psychiatrists, Vesselka Christova, Kimon Ganev and Toma Tomov; three psychologists, Zlatka Mihova, Vesela Slavov and Nikola Atanasov; and a postgraduate student in English, Milena Nedeva. The British staff were very impressed by the alacrity and insight with which they got on with it.

The setting was surreal. The conference was held at the Palace of Culture, an extraordinary kind of institution found in the centre of every capital city in Eastern Europe. It is massive, lavishly appointed and festooned with striking and imposing artefacts which had been commissioned by the communist regime — carvings, sculptures and a huge colourful mural which embraced all of history and all of symbolism and formed the backdrop to all events in the room where plenary meetings took place. There is a particular penchant for elaborate chandeliers among the official architects who design these palaces, and I found myself irresistibly drawn to counting the burnt out bulbs when the dynamics of the conference threatened to overwhelm me. The setting was made more remarkable by the fact that one result of democratisation and embracing the market economy and free enterprise is that the palace had been opened up to hundreds of stalls selling the most awful junk which comes from the West or from new enterprises — zillions of plastic toys, hair sprays, portable cassette decks, perfumes, along with cars and tv sets. The conference was held on the fifth level, and I experienced it as floating on a sea of tat, while seeking to foster a more worthwhile set of values for this dramatically and confusingly changing society.

I find it hard to express what happened, but it was very moving and heartening. The sixty conference members were bewildered, didn’t have much idea what to expect and felt ambivalent about the British experts who had jetted in for the event. On the one hand, they were keen to learn, especially since Western ideas of management are de rigeur; on the other, they were understandably resentful of what might be a new and subtle form of cultural imperialism. But what transpired was truly remarkable. One member of staff said it was the best group relations conference she had ever attended. Once the members got past their first layer of defences, my experience of them was that their souls yearned to be free of the suspicions, cynicism, spying and despair that has made up so much of their lives under the old regime and in the chaos of recent events. They found it particularly hard to find a way of being between the position of isolated individual and a member of the mass. That is, the task of forming groups with clear aims, boundaries and territories was especially appreciated. One participant expressed this as the result of a society whose members are in transition from serfdom to citizenship. Bulgaria was under Turkish hegemony for five centuries, followed by Russian, German and then Soviet control. Nominal and fledgling democracy has been in place since 1989.

People spoke with great clarity and simplicity and quite soon found the conference events very facilitating and relevant to their lives and work. I felt that the emotional atmosphere of the conference was unusually free of bull-shit, when compared with what happens in Britain, where there is often layer after layer of conference-wise defences and tricks interposed between the aims of the conference and the insides of the members. When we came at the end to the applications groups — where members describe their circumstances and seek to apply what they have learned at the conference — each member spoke of truly daunting life dilemmas on the part of professional people attempting to find authenticity and dedication in settings which could easily go either way: to integrity or toward destructive splitting and opportunism. The problem of trying to hold things together — intellect and feelings, job form and content (in a society of sinecures) — was especially striking. In the final plenary a member said he felt he was left standing helpless in the middle of a large field. This was interpreted as less forlorn that it might appear to be at first glance. To be able to stand there and bear that experience without running away from it into an instant, perhaps superficial, solution means that though he may have felt helpless, his situation was far from hopeless. His ability to have that experience, to contain it and reflect on it struck us as a real benefit of the conference.

There was a press conference on the following day in which participants and journalists agreed that the use of the group relations model has immense promise for Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries and could make important contributions in a number of settings — medical, commercial, governmental, psychiatric, educational, and in working with minorities (there is, for example, a large, alienated Gypsy population in Bulgaria). A week-long conference is planned for Easter, and all who attended the one in December are greatly looking forward to it. The group relations approach offers the best synthesis of management thinking with integrity and psychodynamic authenticity in dealing with the role of the individual in groups and institutions.


In fact, the next conference was cancelled, in spite of all our efforts. The reason was envy and spite on the part of other academics at the NBU. A way was found to bring some of the young people who had acted as staff to a group relations conference mounted by the Grubb Institute on London. A group Relations Club also met regularly to read, discuss and plan future events. We then managed to get a grant of $100,000 from the Open Society Fund and to mount another conference in July-August 1996, which was as remarkable, in its way as the first one. It was held in the newly-acquired premises of the NBU, a disused facility which had formerly been employed for the education of Communist party officials. The grounds were sorely neglected, and the rooms were hot, but the proceedings were electrifying. I recall most vividly an event in an exercise in which the membership were asked to form groups to interact with the staff, who were designated as ’Management’. One young psychiatrist — well known to all of the staff, whom I had supervised and with whom I was on affectionate terms — came before the staff/management group and said that since we were unwilling to meet with them and were completely intransigent, so that there was no possible way forward. When it was pointed out by the Director of the conference that they had asked for no meeting and that we had therefore made no response of the kind he described, a deep frown came across his face. He was silent for a long time and then said that we had utterly shattered his world view. That is, he had to acknowledge that his characterization of us was pure projection, albeit firmly based on his experience growing up in the culture and society of pre- and post-1989 Bulgaria.

There were many comparable experiences in the various small and large group experiences of the conferences and in the application groups at the end of the week. People found it hard to the point of impossibility to imagine that groups could be formed for good and proactive reasons, that institutions could permit progressive and constructive things to happen, that anyone outside one’s own family and closest friends could be trusted. This was especially evident in the large groups, where various people were repeatedly accused of playing cynical or comical or otherwise disruptive roles. Still others told moving stories about how it was pointless to hope, to build, to seek change. In the application groups, people told poignant tales about why their jobs were pointless, their initiatives thwarted, their positions based on fragile patronage.

When the conference ended the staff were heartened and felt sure that the next conference would be able to build quite quickly on the experiential learning of this and the previous one. Then we learned that the rest of our grant had disappeared; it was simply gone. There was a heated showdown between advocates of our programme and certain responsible officials which might have led to catastrophe, but it didn’t. Instead, it led to the creation of a new Institute of Human Relations at the NBU, with an ambitious programme and full backing for grant application to funding bodies in the West. One crucial meeting is worth recalling. A significant figure with access to substantial resources had agreed to meet with us. The meeting was scheduled for Saturday morning., Gordon Lawrence and I flew in from London, but fog prevented us from landing at Sofia, and we were diverted to Burgas on the Black Sea (about as far away from Sofia as we could be and still be in Bulgaria). In order to get to the meting on time we had to take a taxi and ride all night through the fog. We got to Sofia in time to sleep for an hour and got to the meeting. The grandee did not turn up. We were assured that this did not mean that the grant would not be forthcoming — only that he wanted to make it clear who was more important. We swallowed our understandable reactions and set about explaining the proposal to a group of people who knew about it already. The potentate turned up an hour late and explained disarmingly that when he agreed to meet us it had slipped his mind that he had promised his wife that he would look after the children that Saturday morning — hence the transparent bag containing goldfish which as suspended from his hand as he came into the room and which remained there throughout our deliberations.

We then had to find a problem to solve, which we duly did. It had been proposed that we should channel our application via a group which had already received money from the granting body. However, Gordon Lawrence pointed out that this would have the undesirable result of distorting that group and making them responsible for a very large grant, with the inevitable result that their governing body would become a honey-pot which would be over-run by ambitious people. We decided against that path, something which led to serious ructions that very evening when we met with the group concerned: their new director wanted all that money to go though the organisation, but she was dissuaded.

The funding administrator warmed up and even began to make suggestions about how we could make application for even more substantial funds if we would look into certain problems concerning the minority population of gypsies and their relations with the police, which, in fact, we already intended to do. It was later explained to me that since the government was inevitably going to change very soon from the recently-elected former communists to a more liberal coalition, this person had a strong incentive to make a significant gesture in the direction of institutions associated with the opposition so that he could be seen as even-handed and could retain his position as a member of the new elite (replacing the party apparatchicks) who controlled the wellsprings of Western aid. We have since made the relevant applications and await the results.

We have also set up an Institute of Human Relation in the New Bulgarian University, of which Toma Tomov and I are co-directors (the first time, I am told, that a foreigner has held such a position). Professor Tomov has since become Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the premiere medical school in the country, The Medical University of Sofia, and I have become Professor of Psychotherapy and Psychoanalytic Studies at the Centre for Psychotherapeutic Studies of the University of Sheffield. Gordon Lawrence, who is now Visiting Professor at Cranefield University, is on the Board of Directors, and he and I and David Armstrong, who directs the group relations conferences of the Institute, are to be made professors at the NBU. This East-West cooperation is substantial and bodes well for the development of applications of the group relations perspective in new settings. For example, the Institute of Human Relations is now offering group relations MA to people throughout Eastern Europe. We have set up a Community Studies Course to propagate this way of working. I reproduce below an excerpt from the project proposal which has been put forward jointly by the NBU and the Geneva Initiative in Psychiatry (GIP). I believe it conveys the relevance of the group relations approach to the particular historical and emotional setting in which attempts are being made to create democracies in Eastern Europe.


Of the three main ingredients of the course, the group relations conferences (1 to 2 week residential events) will be held on the NBU site in Sofia; the long-term small groups with permanent membership (8 working weeks spread over a two-year period) will be run by visiting teams at various locations in Eastern Europe as contracted; and the academic training will be by distance learning. Training will be provided in English, Russian and Bulgarian.


Target Group

The target population for the Community Studies Course (CSC) are the numerous citizens of Eastern Europe (EE) who identify with democratic processes and need to contribute to change in ways considered effective, ethical and relevant to the cultural context. Students for the programme will be recruited from among the founding members of the burgeoning non-governmental sectors in virtually all countries of EE. They would be of widely varying backgrounds, would be emerging from, or still struggling with, the crisis of a lost professional life, would be badly in need of a value system to embrace and of knowledge and skills to adjust to life under democracy. Yet, they would most likely be the ones to have the stamina of the pioneers of Eastern Europe in the quest for the open society.


The Problem

We believe that there are fundamental impediments to the development of an open society which are not rational or accessible to ordinary introspection. This line of reasoning has been dramatically confirmed in the group relations conferences held by the New Bulgarian University and underwritten by the Open Society Fund, one held in 1992 with leading figures in Bulgarian administration and another in 1996 with mental health and educational workers.

In the conferences there was a deep reluctance to join groups or to believe that institutions could ever be trusted. There was in the conferences, as there is in the society, an unwillingness to take responsibility for public spaces. Distrust and cynicism are fundamental enemies of co-operation and of democratic procedures. Put simply, people were afraid of being open as individuals; so they are unlikely to make significant contributions to an open society.

People in Eastern Europe suffer from primitive anxieties, some common to human nature, some greatly enhanced and specific to their experiences before and after 1989. They are not ready to learn from new experiences and to enter into new group, social, institutional, cultural and political combinations. Instead, they react defensively and selfishly, afraid to take the risk of trusting and working with others for the common good.

The dynamics of distrust are the dynamics of being overwhelmed by primitive anxieties. They not only prevent optimism and positive developments; they also underlie common social ills, the ones which hundreds of non-governmental organisation (NGO) projects in Eastern Europe attempt to address: cynical opportunism; misappropriation of resources; punitive attitudes toward deviance; rote learning; physical abuse in domestic settings; sexual abuse; borderline personality disorder; bigotry and scapegoating, especially of minorities; failure to foster rehabilitation and reparation, etc.

In the case of virtually every EE-EU collaborative project an enormous amount of learning of the most unexpected kind on the part of the project staff turns out to be necessary in order for sufficient comprehending to become possible and common grounds for action to be established. It is almost the rule, however, that the awareness comes too late of the need to engage with the project in such a taxing, personal, even intimate way for real progress to be achieved This awareness is routinely accompanied by negative feelings of distrust, disappointment and disillusionment.


The Group Relations Approach and Eastern Europe

The bewilderment, incomprehension and even confusion which one experiences upon exposure to another culture, and which may trigger a learning process or may cause frustration and bring the project to a precipitous end, are predictable, possible to attenuate and even to utilize for individual growth and development. This holds true for the differences between human settings and practices in all spheres: public administration, business, social welfare, mental health, education, parenting, the prison system, the criminal justice system, the military. In all these and many other spheres the human group as a mediating domain between the individual and the cultural setting can make a big difference.

One exceptionally effective way to utilize the human group in precipitating learning appropriate to the tasks at hand, even in the lack of a clear formulation or awareness of the learning needs, is the group relations conference. The techniques involved in working in group relations settings make it possible to reflect upon primitive anxieties in the circumstances in which they are evoked. It is a particularly intense form of experiential learning. Psychodynamic consultancy, counselling and therapy have the same advantages but spread the learning process over longer periods.

Although the method was evolved several decades ago and is widely employed in major institutions and in many settings throughout the metropolitan countries, exposure to it in the EE setting occurred for the first time in 1992, in Sofia. Four years later a group of over thirty psychologists, social workers, medical doctors and others centered round the IHR have acquired significant experience with the method of group relations. This came as result of enthusiastic experimenting with various modifications and of consistent supervision from distinguished British consultants, whose visits were supported by Open Society funds. The accumulation of a critical mass of young professionals with a good understanding of the approach has lead to the development of several academic courses at the NBU which introduce students to the field, to the establishment of:

1. an internet e-mail discussion forum: hraj@maelstrom.stjohns.edu

2. a World Wide Web ejournal with an East-West editorship and board: Human Relations, Authority and Justice:


3. the translation and publications of seminal literature on the topic

4. the setting up of a learned society: The Experiences in Groups Club.

In the public services the new skills of civil participation have afforded an amazing variety of applications. One example is the design of a training in psychiatric nursing (first of its kind in EE) provided by a team from Sofia, Bulgaria to a class in Kiev, Ukraine made possible by the mediating role of GIP and the innovative design informed by knowledge of group relations and group dynamics. Another example is a series of conferences concerned with inter-agency cooperation for working with mentally disordered offenders, which brought together with help of the British Know-how Fund the police, the criminal justice system, mental health and the non-governmental sector into a joint project on involving the community in the containment of interpersonal violence and abuse, a development in the hitherto rigidly-sectored institutional bureaucracy which would have been impossible without the facilitating role of the group relations approach. Many more such examples could be listed: introducing case-work in the social welfare sector, empowering Roma (Gypsy) activists to challenge the marginalisation of their ethnic group in a constructive way, rather than a way which is paranoid and conducive to further isolation.

In the light of the above developments it need not come as a surprise that the point has been reached when it is appropriate to establish an autonomous group relations programme in Eastern Europe. The current proposal attempts to identify the components that need to be assembled for this to happen, to cost them and to put them in perspective.

The issue is approached with the understanding that Group Relations: Eastern Europe is an altogether new chapter in the history of human sciences still to be written; that this can be appropriately done only within the context of Eastern Europe and, more specifically, by close involvement with the domain that undergoes the most turbulent, yet seldom-recognized, development — group and community life; and that the only appropriate authors could be professionals from Eastern Europe, trained to acquire qualification of the level of their EU counterparts, who remain in professional partnership with them, yet have enough autonomy to stay Eastern Europeans.


The Community Studies (Eastern Europe) Training

The human science students with serious interests in group dynamics and group relations were instrumental in setting up the Institute of Human Relations within the NBU which will provide organizational infrastructure for training in the field. It had transpired from the experience in the group relations conferences and related events which we have held that, having gone through the experience, students begin to address numerous demands to the teams for information on facts and theory in a broad range of disciplines.

The Community Studies (EE) training is conceived as a public service offered by the IHR within the academic tradition of facilitating awareness and self-study with a view of enhancing and spreading the capacity of individuals, groups and communities to contain anxiety vis-a-vis the turbulent realities of transition. In addition, however, this attitudinal change will be supplemented with a systematic presentation of the achievements of Western Civilization in the field of democratic institutions, human rights, social policy, public administration, community development, organizational behaviour, conflict mediation, advocacy and organizational management. Finally, the training will provide (through the format of long-term small groups) supervision and counselling to ensure sustainability of the newly-acquired autonomy and independence in the actual practice of living.

Throughout Eastern Europe there is an enormous hunger for this kind of translation of the principles of an open society into the reality of one’s daily experiences. Correspondingly, given the fact that the diploma will be offered in Russian and English, and through distance learning and visiting teams, millions will have access to it. The GIP, which has been ingeniously investing for a number of years in developing and expanding networks of reform-minded thinkers in mental health and related fields from practically all countries in Eastern and Central Europe, will provide an effective channel for disseminating information and recruiting students.


In my opinion, what is exciting and promising about these applications (not all of which will succeed in getting funded) is not only relevant to Eastern Europe but to other political, social and cultural settings, as well. Indeed, bringing together these essays and this last chapter on the experience of introducing group relations to Bulgaria and beyond has had the effect of greatly enhancing my own sense of the power and potential of this way of working, of experiential learning and of addressing in this way the profoundly disturbed feelings which come between us all and human civility, cooperation and benign group and institutional relationships. Fathoming and making benign the role of unconscious forces in groups and institutions and in larger social settings strikes me as the single most important task in the understanding of human nature and in seeking a liveable future for human kind.

5901 words

This is a draft chapter for a collection by David Armstrong, Gordon Lawrence and me, Group Relations: An Introduction (Process Press, in press).

Copyright: The Author

Address for corespondence: 26 Freegrove Road, London N7 9RQ


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