The Symposium Theme

When Divided Worlds Meet: Confluences of Identity, Culture, Continuity and Change

The theme reflects a common need to understand the forces that generate divisions within and between groups - small, large and societal - arising out of both conscious and unconscious processes.

In a globalising World, divisions between groups that are identified as different take on renewed significance. The pandemic has been met with fantasies of achieving safety in our own countries; new barriers are erected and the effects of economic inequity become ever more severe. As our picture of the world is invaded by images of environmental disaster, our inability to conceive coherent responses, which transcend established divisions, becomes ever more apparent. The myth of Armageddon depicts a recurring group response to shared catastrophe - the creation of divisions between the virtuous and the unworthy, survivors and damned. It seems easier to imagine disintegration and chaos than to believe that concerted human action for survival is possible.

What are the forces in groups which generate divisions in the face of a shared fate? How do we encounter those forces in our work and what can that work tell us about living with difference without fatal divisions?

As we considered the theme of our symposium, these were some of the thoughts that arose in us. We hope that you will bring yours to our symposium.

Daily themes:

The opening lecture will be held on Wednesday and will provide an outline of the Balkan context and then each full day of the symposium will have its own theme.

Thursday - Theory: Complexity of Paradigms. There is a wide range of theoretical paradigms that feed into group analysis and help us understand the transpersonal process that shapes us. To what extent does this confluence produce a creative mix and foster social creativity and to what extent are the paradigms irreconcilable or contradictory?

Friday - Socio-political: Diversity and Dialogue. Is it possible to create true dialogue across differences - ethnic, religious, class, gender, cultural, etc? What are the limits of our tolerance of ideas that contradict our own and even offend us? Many group analysts are involved in attempting to promote dialogue in areas of conflict - to what extent is this successful and indeed possible in areas of the world with complex histories?

Saturday - Clinical and Training: Working on the future of Group Analysis. Group analytic practice and training have been severely challenged by the pandemic and associated societal disruption which often highlighted underlying power dynamics and many group analysts found themselves doing what had previously seemed theoretically impossible - conducting online therapy groups, running whole training courses without meeting in person etc. What will group analytic training look like in the future and how can we adequately prepare trainees to meet the social tensions which have been exposed and will appear in all our groups?

Programme Overview