N.31 - The different applications of the group device, within clinical, social and organizational institutions

Group psychotherapy with alcoholic patients: some theoretical and clinical issues


With this article we hope to illustrate how changing theoretical views within the psychoanalytic understanding of the mind and psychopathology of the alcoholic patient have lead to a shift in our clinical approach of these difficult patients. Starting from a more object relational approach we have integrated important contributions from self psychology and recently also from the work of Monjauze on the alcoholic part of the personality. Furthermore, we are thinking of ways in which we could apply the work of René Kaës in our group psychotherapeutic work with this population. His description of the psychic formations in the three psychic spaces, and especially his concept of the phoric function within a group has caught our attention. It is our hypothesis that in a group of alcoholic patients the group psychotherapist is confronted with a specific kind of phoric function. We see it as an inherent part of the alcoholic group that one of the group members chooses to be, and at the same time is chosen by the other members to be, the bearer of the alcoholic part of the group.

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