The „German Marriage“

– Intrapsychic, Interpersonal and In ternational Dimensions

Human and Cultural Evolution

Generally speaking,  in my understanding, presently la „condition humane“ is characterized by three different lines of development.

First, the  human tendency to integrate,  to form an integrated entirety,  to reach a state of oneness by integrating formerly  split off sides of human existence,

second, the  human tendency,  to ward off the threat one really or illusionarily perceives,  by one’s fellow human being through dehuman÷ izing him, by objectifying him,  by turning him into one’s tool that behaves completely according to one’s whishes, and

third, the  human tendency to seek security in the outside  world that is combined with this receptive intra-human area of undifferenti÷ ated, paramount  needs for emotional security that makes us want to protect ourselves from annihilating anxieties.  This area represents a sensitive organ to receive phantasies, feelings and motives of our larger human environment and at the same time,  simultaneously, as we tend to dispose this archaic, internal sphere of undifferentiated anx÷ iety to the outside world, we run the danger to fall prone to a para÷ lyzing and corrupting adaptation.

I feel that we stand on the threshold to an evolutionary change in the  dynamics of nations. This had been foreseen long ago by others. Already  Lincoln spoke of the family of Nations and meant relations between equal partners.  The past 45 years however, can only be described as a bipolar world, split into two poles, with some nations trying  to keep more or less equal distance, this era having followed up the colonial times, when whole peoples were dehumanized as we can still  observe in the „policy“ of the so called „Apartheid“ in South Africa.

The developmental potential in front of us now tends either towards a multipolar  world, as for instance demanded by Vaclav Havel, or towards a unipolar world with some form of world government as already

previewed in  the seventies by Carl Friedrich  v. Weizäcker, German physicist and philosopher, brother of our present federal president.

We can observe this struggle at present, too,  on a smaller scale within Europe, one side advocating a politically united Europe with a strong supra-government,  the other side, advocating a multipolar Europe of all the fatherlands, collaborating on an equal and peaceful basis, but as sovereign states.

The old dilemma and obvious struggle is if it is possible to unite without loosing one’s national identity,  or even worse, if the unifi÷ cation will not only result in the loss of one’s identity but also in the oppression of many by one, or by one dominant center of power.

In this  process of integration and growing together  the German regained completeness can be understood as a  preliminary necessary condition for being able to join in this process opposite to submis÷ sive adaptation. Because only sufficiently secure and „whole“ partners can join into mutual relations (Wallenberg, 1984).

During the past 10 years my interest has increasingly been in  the interrelationship between individuals, small groups, and society as well  as nations and in the international intermediate space between nations (Walleneberg,  1982, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90). Here, I want to report on the German scene and introduce a few key  concepts that may generate a discussion on possible approaches to bridge the gap from our clinical work with small groups and individuals to whole societies and nations.  Thus I strive to put to discussion our social position and significance as social psychiatrists and psychotherapists in this rapidly changing world.

Clinical observations on a Nation’s Social Mood

During the past 10 months,  besides the joy and enthusiasm in face of  the newly gained freedom for East-Germany and the fall  of its totalitarian regime there were, from my participant observation, cer÷ tain feelings among the West-Germans that became particularly acute in the past 10 months though they were not often spoken of in public.

  1. There where feelings of intensive anxiety about the crumbling of social structures that,  so unjust as they had been, were obviously perceived by many people to promise more security than the new ones to come, nobody knows about yet.

  2. The more hidden emotions, are intensive feelings of shame about having not been more outspoken about the inhumanity of the East-German Regime during the past decades.

A variety  of present West-German schoolbooks on  history witness this attitude of denial of inhumanities by their neutral,  even sympa÷ thetic attitude to many more than doubtful aspects of the then East- German  social reality and the denial of the violation of basic human rights. East-German teachers were shocked after they received  these books as a donation to be used now in their education.

  1. There is a feeling that is very important but difficult to ver÷ balize.  It is the individual feeling of oneness, of being complete, being repaired again. We all know about the importance of this feeling in  the development of the individual personality, it is described in the treatment of borderline personalities, and also by children from broken homes, who struggle to experience an intact, united family, one that is not being split into mom’s and dad’s family.

  2. Another phenomenon that could be observed is the revival of the past.  The war, its atrocities and its wounds had seemed so long away. But now, suddenly, many people feel that the losses of 45 years ago are  the losses of yesterday and the feelings of wanting to have it back are as fresh. I just think of a very liberal and humanistic friend,  who cannot help, but wanting back his old, admittedly very beautiful house in former East Berlin.

  3. Another phenomenon that stroke me personally was the unexpected fragility of social systems and modes of social organizations,  appar÷ ently so stable and proving themselves so unstable. They revealed themselves as having rested only on the illusionary perceived power of a small leading group that proved itself to be neither very stable nor very  extraordinary. I suppose this does throw some light on the phenomenon of transference upon socially leading groups as a whole, as being perceived to be much more powerful than they are, because of intrapsychic, unconscious human needs for parental securing figures that  are projected on persons and groups in the outside world. The non-violent revolution of East-Germans was the unmasking of the illu÷ sionary powerlessness of the oppressed. On an unconscious level it stood for the liberating and demarcation from a profound, unconscious identification with the victims of Auschwitz,  which represents one of the most hidden, nonetheless very effective „character traits“ of post World War II Germans, as discussed by Heenen-Wolf (1990) and lies still underneath our unconscious guilt (Chasseguet-Smirgel, 1986).

I draw  your attention to the existence of all  these feelings, because they are powerful,  pervasive manifestations of individuals, small  groups, and national dynamics and can become strong motivating forces in the way a nation deals with its members and others. Thus it will be decisive whether they can be experienced,  worked through, and left behind or have to be defended against permanently.

Apparently East-Germans  have evolved still different  dynamics, influenced by the experiences of oppression, suspicion, isolation and other factors preventing a healthy personality development.

– The ambiguous undifferentiated sphere of the Ego –

a Key to understanding the Human Capacity to Tune in with the Social Body and Human Dependency from Social Forces

Through my work with victims of torture with Amnesty International in  the past nine years, I met several Argentineans and Chileans who, in an impressive and convincing way try to come to terms with  their dictatorial past. They have proposed several conceptual models to gain an understanding of the relationship between society, family and the individual.

Bleger (1972),  in my appraisal, developed a key concept in  the approach of understanding, by describing the primary sphere in our ego of  an ambiguous nucleus of non-existing differentiation between the inside and outside world,  between I and you, me and the other. This nucleus is the sphere of most contradictory emotions of love and hate, without being organized in a hierarchical or what so ever way.

It is this non-differentiated part of our self which exists beyond the  developed, differentiated one and the crippled, insufficiently differentiated,  symbiotic parts, we usually deal with in therapies. Here human beings need most support on the one side and are most sus÷ ceptible  to fall prone to totalitarian rule and to submission to cir÷ cumstances and behaviors that originally stand in opposition to their genuine needs and sincere believes. Let me explain why.

According to Bleger – and from my clinical evidence I only can sup÷ port  his findings – the mature Ego tries to dispose of this internal sphere of ambiguity, of its ambiguous nucleus by projecting it on sit÷ uations in the outside world that will give him security and identity. However, on the other hand,  by way of reciprocity, it enables us to become recipient of the phantasies and anxieties of others. Thus anxi÷ eties and other feelings can pervade a society by this pre-differen÷ tiated ego-sphere, which exists beyond individuality and lead to the existence of a social mood.

But because  of the ego-threatening quality of  this ambiguous, non-differentiated part of our self to our mature, differentiated, and structured ego, we deny it, try to check it by submitting ourselves to securing  parental figures and groups upon whom we bestow enormous power. Thus we are prone to regress to a self-effacing degree of con÷ formism. At the same time we tend to split the world into good  and bad, thus saving our mature ego from the threatening parts of our self and becoming able to fight them in the enemy or opponent.

Bleger also gives emphasis to the significant role of the good sym÷ biosis that makes life possible against the paralyzing, dependent mak÷ ing, alienating  symbiosis, humans are prone to enter into to save themselves from their life-threatening anxieties, if the possibilities to enter into good ones are denied and manipulated.

Interesting  for the understanding of totalitarian and dehumanizing states  is that torturers, and destructive social and national forces as  well can replace the protecting father and mother by usurpating their  psychic place and offering so-called security to that part of our self which is threatened by existential anxieties and fears.

This describes  how the ego and a whole group come to  accept the premisses of a torturing and also of a  dehumanizing system. This applies to many citizens of East-Germany who arranged themselves with the system but undoubtedly can be followed up back to the Nazi-regime.

The feeling of Shame as a Key to Liberation

The feeling  of shame, it is my experience,  becomes a paramount important signal  to recognize a gap between ego-ideal and  practised real life. Shame, if tolerated, can become a strong motivating force, to make the ego become aware of the projection of its undifferentiated part  on the outside world, and its subsequent submission and adapta÷ tion to it.

I share the view of Winnicott (1971) and Mahler et al.(1975)  that one positive human force is to leave alienation behind, to look for meaning, to create and to relate to other and to make use of subjects, to develop towards individualization and then to integration.

This, of course, also applies to ourselves as psychotherapists. We should  be aware that to the degree, we ourselves are identified with the life-destroying, dehumanizing aspects of the system we live in, we cause iatrogenic effects in our patients and we prevent them from sep÷ arating out of any destructive social symbiosis they live in.

It seems important to accept this human trait of extreme  vulnera÷ bility that makes us strive for security at any price,  in its impor÷ tance for human development, I think it could replace the speculative death-instinct,   and make evident the importance of its acknowledge÷ ment for the building of life securing societies opposite to life for÷ bidding and personality distorting ones.

To sum  up, the striving to prevent the ego of being  invaded by ambiguity is accompanied by the individual’s active participation  in corrupting activities. Shame has a survival function for the integrity of our personality  and character. It arises, when we perceive a discrepancy between the image of ourselves and our real actions  and feelings. When our prejudices about ourselves are challenged, when we have done something, agreed to something that actually corrupts us and we are faced with the recognition of this discrepancy, shame arises.

I do  not mean ridicule and the subsequent feeling of shame as  an abuse of parental power. But being used like a machine by torturers or by a system is a very painful process, if it is realized .

Therapeutic Consequences – Social Therapy

We have learnt from the treatment of many victims of torture  that psychotherapy can be the first place to make public the experienced psychic and somatic damage within a courageous and engaged therapeutic relationship, where the therapist acknowledges real injustice.

It is  my conviction that it must be the right of every member  of such a society, and this has to be achieved by public social consent, to  get acknowledged and to make public his experienced damage and destruction, and thus to regain the reconstruction of a new life-pro÷ ject.  The aim must be to make available a chance to make conscious to every member having been a victim of oppression, how and why did it happen, and what did it, with what aims, to him. In my opinion,  this puts the demand on a social psychiatrist, to have the courage to take his stance towards the mental health of societies, their life-foster÷ ing and sickening aspects.

The November revolution of East-Germany triggered the breakdown of a  dictatorial rule, but revolutions usually do only replace one oppressor  by another one, if they are not accompanied by individual and group-dynamic changes.

To regain the basic feeling of infantile innocence,  to experience the fundamental right to be accepted unconditionally,  to recuperate the primary experience of one’s parents benevolent look,  their hold÷ ing, and one’s inner feeling of continuity and one’s own sense of his÷ tory, these are primary objects of a repairing therapeutic experience.

If, on  a social level the trauma of a dictatorial regime has  not been worked through, the big risk arises that the idea of democracy, as  a political system, turns increasingly in contradiction to the social reality of that democratic system, becoming a prolonged dicta÷ torial regime.  Consequently the democratic system can not be stabi÷ lized, a constructive social dynamic can not grow, on the contrary, a sickening dynamic, which stabilizes a society and nation by splitting off conflicts,  soliciting conflicts, fostering fiend-friend dichoto÷ mies and black and white thinking will be perpetuated.

This, of course, applies also to relationships between nations. For instance, the experiences and the feelings of expelled people have to be  acknowledged, as the Czechoslovakian President Havel did recently in a representative manner with the German Sudets. Only by breaking the vicious  circle of denied emotions and realities we can overcome the eternal circle of psychologically inherited revenge (Rita Rogers, 1986) as has also been shown by the experience of Katyn in the  rela÷ tionship between Poles and Russians. This does not imply, and can not mean, to exculpate criminals of their crimes.

I feel, in a successful psychotherapeutic process, be this individ÷ ual,  group, or family, another important criteria of success will be the feeling of hope, which allows a human being,  as well as a group, to gain and share a common vision of the future, to have aspirations and hope. The fathers of the North-American constitution  put this somewhat „old-fashioned“, in the words „pursuit of happiness“. And those children’s homes, evidently concentration and destruction homes, recently brought to light in Rumania,  bear most recent witness to the function of the production of this hopelessness by an authoritarian totalitarian state.

A Group-Dynamic Understanding of Structural Violence

and its importance for Social Psychiatry

To discuss human vulnerability, proneness to corruption, predilection to become seduced, lured, coerced to assimilate and submit to corruption and subsequent suffer of great violations which turn violent, is one part of the medal, but the strong violent forces of objectivation, transforming man into a thing-object, dehumanizing him by social force, this is another equally important dimension. Thus I feel, we do not approach the problem of the interrelationship between individuals, small groups and society sufficiently. We have to develop instruments to get hold of the destructive ways „modern, civilized“ western states fre÷ quently rule their members, as well as exert their influence on other nations in a similar destructive manner.

At the end of the sixties the Norwegian social scientist and peace researcher Johan Galtung (1975) developed a sociological understanding  of structural violence. He recognized that violence also manifests itself in unequal opportunities resulting from unequal distribution of power, in differences in powers of decision-making regarding the distri÷ bution of resources, educational opportunities, health services etc.. His intention was, to describe that apart from personal violence in relations between individuals there is a hidden violence which acts indirectly, but with consequences no less cruel and brutal than those of direct personal violence.

Galtung defines violence as the cause of the difference between actual and potential achievement of an individual, as well as a whole group or of the failure to reduce that difference. He himself applied his concept of structural violence particularly to the analysis of the rich northern states compared with the poorer southern states.

An essential characteristic of structural violence is that it is not an act of violence between individuals and effecting only individuals but that whole population groups are affected. A further characteristic of structural violence is that the people affected by it are not con÷ scious of it. This lack of transparency, this inability to see struc÷ tural violence, when one is personally subjected to it, is perhaps its most insidious characteristic.

E.g. Nestle created through its financial power a market for its baby-milk substitutes, awakening needs in the consumer, then exploiting these needs, but eventually subjecting the children by robbing them their life-preserving natural food, to atrocious violence that frequently even lead to their death.

It is my purpose here to show a connection between the personally experienced prohibition of identity under which the individual lives, with his consequent mental suffering or even psychopathological symp÷ toms, and the structural violence identifiable in a social structure, group dynamic constellations, the distribution of power and again the corresponding destroyed or deficient individual personality structure as a result of the experience of dehumanization.

Scientific theory formation, research and practice are also influ÷ enced by and imbued with structural violence. The medicalization of psy÷ choanalysis, its reduction to and adaptation as a subfield of medicine and assimilation as a „psycho-repairshop enterprise“ are a drastic exam÷ ple for this.

It is a further characteristic of structural violence that it always strives to preserve the current balance of power and to make change impossible. Moreover, I see it as a further characteristic of structural violence, when the personal needs and opportunities of the individual are disregarded and he is forced into the preformed framework of a the÷ ory of whatever kind.

All conditions which encourage the isolation of the individual and whole groups and hinder their ability to enter into lively contacts with others and to undergo further development imply a manifestation of structural violence. The extent of not lived human potentialities at any particular time and in any particular place thus bears direct relation÷ ship to the extent of structural violence.

E.g. the relegation and exclusion of the dying and death within the medical machinery pose enormous restriction on the life potential of individuals and groups, because the feelings connected with it are not regarded as an integral valuable part of life, but as an obstacle to efficient work.

Would our national defence not look very different, if right from the cradle, in kindergarten, in school , and in the family we learnt to look forward to getting to know people of foreign cultures, to take part in exchange programs, to live in families of foreign countries and cultures and to work on joint projects with people of other cultures,if we learnt to see the human needs of our „enemy neighbors“ as something with which we can communicate and from which we can learn.

On the other hand, I do understand all conditions, which encourage differentiation of individuals and the differentiation of group-struc÷ tures (internal differentiation, as well as differentiated relationships to a variety of other groups) as a factor, standing up against struc÷ tural violence.

When encountering structural violence we face two different levels:

The ability to perceive structural violence at work, where it is exercised, from which power structures it emanates, and the ability to oppose it, to develop alternative structures of interpersonal relations, to develop and offer alternative group structures.

I postulate that the ability to form groups, to form a network of human relationships is the starting point for challenging structural violence. Characteristic for these groups is that personal feelings are recognized, taken seriously and shared, and that the feelings of the individual members of the group are not split off, but are integrated in the group and used as the starting point for new perceptions, investiga÷ tions and actions. The feelings are placed in a social context.

Only in interaction with a group which is not existentially dependent on conformity with the existing power structures, there can develop a level of perception permitting, to feel and conceptualize the structural violence to which one is subjected. A feeling of personal concern seems to be the most important momentum for the perception of structural vio÷ lence, and for the ability to stand up against it. A feeling of emo÷ tional concern can be a signal that one is subjected to structural vio÷ lence. On the other hand, the ridiculing, waving aside, and disregarding of feelings of personal concern are manifestations of structural vio÷ lence.

Also, what is repeated e.g., within the matrix of the group in group- therapy, are not only fam‑ily dynamics and psycho-dynamics but also social dynamics. That means, the social position the patient’s primary group did have within the larger social systems is repeated by the patient, who takes a particular position, role and attitude in the group.

Structural violence today also is yielded on a global scale:

The constant nuclear threat, environmental pollution, unemployment, etc. nourish continuously a sickening level of anxiety, poison interper÷ sonal relationships with feelings of suspicion, different from natural disasters that in turn tend to unite mankind. But also the indebtedness of a whole people and entire Nations to a level beyond hope, their enmeshing in a vicious circle of working only to repay unlimited debts and thus instilling an all- pervading feeling of hopelessness and power÷ lessness. These permanent man-made threats give raise to destructive social moods that in turn effect families and most certainly their weak÷ est members, the children.

We thus can diagnose in our patients the effects of a cumulative traumatic social mood that destroys the joy of life, kills the hope for the future, and leads to various forms of depressive reactions, to a deeply rooted feeling of being unable to change one’s fate, and last not least, to psychosomatic reactions, depressions and other psychopatholog÷ ical reactions as crippled attempts to encounter these threats.

In order to perceive structural violence it is necessary to have a boundary between the area, where structural violence operates and the place, where it is perceived, and where it is possible to communicate about it. By giving trust and confronting the patient with his nihilism, by help‑ing him, to experience his low self-esteem as ego-alien, as imposed upon him, by supporting him to value his emotional cues he senses that to re‑sist ridicule and to increasingly acquire a feeling for his identity-needs represent the first step towards restoring and free÷ ing a de‑stroyed or blocked identity-development. (A further step, I dis÷ cussed above, are the feelings of shame, important as an indicator of a compromised and injured personal integrity.)

However, in order not to fall pray to the illusion, „all evil comes from outside“ it is important to look for the link between structural violence at the level of large groups and the individual. I have postu÷ lated above that structural violence is also reflected in individual personality structures and then in turn takes effect and exerci- ses structural violence. But this also brings up the question of the  thera÷ pist’s enmeshment on two levels.

First, if he is the tool of structural violent forces, e.g. the cog÷ wheel of a health insurance system that fosters me‑chanical health and adaptive functioning but prevents the identity development of its mem÷ bers.

Second, to what degree his own per‑sonality structure is an internal÷ ization of structural violence. For him, too, applies that a change is doomed to failure, when the victims of structural violence are only for÷ mally liberated, given power, capital, or knowledge. That was the case with the farmworkers in El Salvador, who begged their master after two years to take back the soil they had received; or with many people on social welfare, who prove unable to handle the resource given to them. Such examples are used again and again by the yielders of structural violence to say „I told you so!“. At the same time it is conscientiously ignored that this is the outcome of the deficient-destructive personal÷ ity structure of human beings, who are products of structural violence, and who are only formally, materially freed from structural violence.

The liberation from structural violence can only succeed if it goes hand in hand with the opportunity for a liberating, compensatory ego-de÷ velopment. The Martinique black psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, who worked in Algeria argued already that the resolution of the colonial situation becomes only possible, when both parties, oppressed and oppressor suc÷ ceed in giving up their petrified roles and rigid positions in favour of an interaction on a different level, e.g. getting to know each other, to learn from each other. Only if the rigid culture of the oppressor does open up itself and experiences the oppressed culture as a brother-human culture, both cultures can learn from each other. Getting aware of the interdependence of human cultures becomes only possible if the colonial attitude has been truly abandoned.

And thus, I feel it the utmost task of any social psychiatrist and psychotherapist, who is not merely satisfied to be a cogwheel of the existing power-structure and a transmitter of structural violence, to continuously question himself and expose himself to situations that make possible the question, to what degree do I repress and oppress experi÷ ences that demand personal change, to what degree do I submit to an adaptive medico-therapeutic repairshop-enterprise that merely adapts the patient and alienates him even further from himself, and to what degree do I conduct scientific research under the control of a superego which is unyielding to human needs and to fellow hu‑man beings as well.

Structural violence can only be perceived and combatted by individu÷ als and groups, who are able to perceive and tolerate fear. This  requires relationships to other people, the security and protection of a constructive group with a positive basic mood. Experiences I found help÷ ful in the process of becoming aware of and working through inter‑nalized structures of structural violence are encounters in cul‑turally very het÷ erogeneous groups, liv‑ing for a longer time in com‑pletely foreign cul‑ tures, and the psychotherapeutic training under a member of a foreign culture who is not a member of the pre‑vailing power structure.

The art and the skill in challenging internalized structures of structural violence is to enter into, or to create situations of con‑ structive detachment that make it possible to become aware of own parts of the personality structure and of an internal‑ized group-dynamic of structural violence, which unconsciously is externalized and restored in the here and now again and again.

And here I mean very powerful and very destructive structures. Jean Paul Sartre expressed it once to the very point: It is suffi‑cient that our victims (by this he meant the victims of European culture and colo÷ nialism there and here) show us, what we made of them, to get an idea what we made of ourselves.

The discussion of structural violence leads me to ask, to what extent it is possible to challenge structural violence at the level of the large social group. I am thinking here of freedom fighters such as Thoreau, Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

I think today’s approach must incorporate a quantum leap in develop÷ ment. The message to be given today is, in my opinion, that we should weave a net and establish relationships with many groups. What has become clearer since the times of Thoreau, Ghandi, and even King is that today many problems can not be resolved at a national level, but can only be understood and changed in an international context. Through international encounter, the narrow-minded, petty bourgeois group behav÷ ior often becomes perceptible, visible, and open to change.

This view emphasizes the importance of such international institu÷ tions like the WHO, UNESCO, or the UN etc., that carry the potential of opening an international and transcultural intermediate space, thus planting the seed for the perception of an invisible web of structural violence. This can apply also for international scientific conferences.


Psychoanalysis,  by its very nature, is an ethical endeavor. A psy÷ choanalyst, by the very definition, is enmeshed into the production of truth.  However, as Lichtenstein (1963) once wrote, it is important to know, where the struggle takes place: the fight for the human being against the human tendency to objectify, against metamorphosis of man into a thing-object.  The fundamental premise of my work is the strug÷ gle for man, against the human tendency to objectify, and to support live-supporting group-dynamics against live-forbidding, even live-des÷ troying dynamics.

Adorno (1966) said,  after Auschwitz all culture is impure,  how÷ ever, we refuse to acknowledge this, because as a consequence our hope and our will to live would diminish. Denial consequently, in the years after  World War II, was the paramount defense mechanism. The peace movement fought to bring into consciousness the irrationality of the atomic threat and the dimension of the denial of the atomic risk, pic÷ tured  in the memorial museum in Hiroshima and underneath the increas÷ ingly failing concrete ceiling of the Tschernobyl atomic-reactor.

I still remember very good the most impressive traces of the atomic bomb  in the Hiroshima Museum. It was not the picture of the atomic mushroom nor the  photos of a whole city being wiped out, but the greasy spot on a rock being left over from a human being having  been burnt in the epicenter. These are the moments when repression and denial fail to work and the ego is invaded by a social  reality and overwhelmed by its ambiguous feelings.

The mechanisms of denial and splitting are withering, we stand on a threshold  to come to new terms with ambiguity and existential needs for security. I think, however,  our old mechanisms will be revived under new constellations, staying basically the same, unless we suc÷ ceed in a common effort to create new solutions.

In  my experience,  the degree of the capacity to tolerate and  to cope with ambivalences, ambiguities, and inner conflicts, is a direct measurement for the capacity of an individual, of groups, and nations, to  handle conflicts peacefully and in a mature way. It stands in direct relationship with man’s „Friedensfähigkeit“, capacity for peace.

We can observe that individuals and groups that are not overwhelmed by  their inner sphere of ambiguity and undifferentiation, posses a powerful instrument to tune in on the existential anxieties of others. They  possess the capacity to be in touch with existential needs and fears of others, without letting themselves be manipulated or alien÷ ated from themselves.  The more we succeed to integrate these parts of us that we used to project to the outside world, the more we can face and cope with the threatening aspects of reality in a more cooperative and more conscious way.

To  support our patients and the groups we work with,  to get into touch with and to integrate these parts, is a very important therapeu÷ tic task and we may need to develop new ways of encounter. We only can try to reach the inner state of freedom, to be able and free to choose on which side we want to stand on.


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