Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 83 Issue 3 (September 2010), Pages 223-331

Psychosomatic symptoms and the group mind (pages 255-271)

Objectives. In this work, we propose a model, designed to understand mental symptoms and adapted for the analysis of psychosomatic symptoms, to be used as a tool to represent group phenomena, named the ‘group mind’.

Design. A revision of the relevant literature on the concept of ‘group mind’ and psychosomatics, and the presentation of the Cambridge model.

Methods. We describe how unformatted experiences can appear as somatization, and how this process can be corrected via mental representations. Group dynamics can function creating these representations and thus contribute to solving psychosomatic symptoms. We refer to W. R. Bion's concepts, mainly the ones on proto‐thoughts and the proto‐mental system, comparing them to the proposed model and giving a foundation to this conceptual representation. We illustrate with four cases of clinical interaction.

Conclusions. Psychotherapeutic groups are privileged places to comprehend and transform psychosomatic symptoms. The Cambridge model allows a representation of these processes. Further studies are necessary to assess its validity, test its adequacy, and expand its possibilities.

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