Structural violence - Andreas SG.vo Wallenberg Pachaly

Andreas S.G. von Wallenberg Pachaly, Düsseldorf, Deutschland

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A Group-Dynamic Understanding of
Structural Violence and
Group Psychotherapy
Andreas von Wallenberg Pachaly, Düsseldorf (FRG)

In this paper, I wish to discuss the political or even better so-
cial dimension of psychoanalysis in general and psychoanalytic
group-therapy especially! To approach this subject, I want to intro-
duce to you the concept of structural violence as it was put forward
psycho- and group-historical understanding, which helps us to diag-
by Johan Galtung in the early seventies. Next, I wish to develop a
group-dynamic understanding of this concept as well as attempt a
fied internalized group-dynamics of his primary group.
nose the downfall of structural violence within the personality-
structure of an individual patient, which I understand as the petri-
therapy as a way of encountering other human beings, Here and Now,
The next step will be to integrate the psycho-historical and group-
dynamical concept of structural violence and the dimension of group
terpersonal matrix through the matrix of the member patients and the
as well as to make alive their past experience in the Here and Now.
This means that through transference and countertransference and,
Through the pattern of the differentiated developmental state of a
above all, through the process of externalizing an internalized in-
person of the therapist we can get hold of the interpersonal fab-
ric that enforced structural violence as well as its downfall in the
personality structure of the individual patient.
patients ego-functions, by his group-dynamical position and by the
Though structural violence is not enforced as direct personal vio-
interpersonal fabric he "produces", we can diagnose, what structural
violence did to this particular patient, how it damaged him in his
personality-growth, and how it cripples him in his interpersonal ca-
and analytic group-therapist in the process of making personal
lence we have to be aware of the fact that it is yielded by the pri-
mary group as a catalysts of structural violence. Here it becomes
important to understand the interrelationship between group-dynamics
in small groups, e.g. families and large social groups, like church,
army, political organizations etc..
ders and limits, within which this particular therapist will be able
Last not least, we have to scrutinize the role of the group-analyst
structures of structural violence visible, fellable, and enable a
retrieval of ego-development. The living-condition of a therapist is
as much a necessary condition (the group-dynamics of his surrounding
However, we also should be aware of the fact that there exist social
group, he chooses to live in) as is his own ego-structure with its
own downfalls of structural violence. This will determine the bor-
to cope with structural violence in his patients. Much we owe to our
Argentinean group-analysts, who try to give us a profound analysis
structural violence. We should also think of German analysts, who
of their entanglement with totalitarianism as an extreme version of
until recently didn't even dare to look upon their degree of enme-
researcher Johan Galtung (1975) developed a sociological understand-
shment with their nations nazi-past.
times and circumstances, favorable to the becoming aware of structu-
scious of the frozen, unconscious power structures of a given soci-
ral violence and also on the opposite unfavorable to the making con-

ing of structural violence. He recognized that violence also mani-

At the end of the sixties the Oslo social scientist and peace
and brutal than those of direct personal violence.
fests itself in unequal opportunities resulting from unequal distri-
bution of power, in differences in powers of decision-making
health services etc.. His objective was to describe that apart from
regarding the distribution of resources, educational opportunities,
violence which acts indirectly but with consequences no less cruel
personal violence in relations between individuals there is a latent
Galtung defines violence as the cause of the difference between
Africa and South East Asia, which gave them a high turnover for this
or of the failure to reduce the difference between actual and poten-
tial achievement of an individual , as well as a whole group.
ticularly to the analysis of the rich northern states compared with
Galtung himself applied his concept of structural violence par-
of the Nestle company, which spent millions of US$ on an advertising
the poorer southern states. An example, probably well known is that
product. A direct consequence of the increased feeding with artifi-
campaign for artificial milk powder for babies in many states of
A few years ago Nestle stopped this advertising campaign and has, I
cial milk, however, was a considerable increase in child mortality
in these countries. The reason was the weakening immune system of
added risk of the frequently high bacterial contamination of the
the children which was no longer fortified by human milk, plus the
needs, selling its goods, earning million of U.S.$ but at the same
Thus, through its financial power, Nestle created a market for
itself, awakening needs in the consumers, then exploiting these
Recently a polish sociologist (Jan Jerschina, 1990) raised a
time subjecting the consumers, the children, to atrocious violence.
believe, sponsored a number of water well projects, as a compensa-
An essential characteristic of structural violence is that it is
tion, so to speak.
viduals but that whole population groups are affected.
not an act of violence between individuals and effecting only indi-
ple affected by it are not conscious of it. This lack of transpar-
A further characteristic of structural violence is that the peo-
ency, this inability to see structural violence when one is person-
tions of structural violence, wether in the form of the mentally ill
ally subjected to it is perhaps its most insidious characteristic.
"beautiful" example for this. In a lecture at the University of Cra-
severely discriminated, because they get for the same work only half
cowia he told his audience of polish students that polish women are
the wage and, because of the prevailing paternalistic structures at
of deep conviction, but we do feel equal, we don't feel discrimi-
home they have to work almost twice the hours men have to. After his
lecture the female students came up to him and told him with a tone
structures, group dynamic constellations, the distribution of power
In our clinical work we are confronted daily with the manifesta-
or for instance in our work in the F.R.G. the 2.5 million unemployed
wether in the form of child battering or of the almost 5 million
in our country whose human qualities are trodden on and neglected,
foreigners of whom many are not integrated and often live in isola-
experienced prohibition of identity under which the individual
tion on the margin of our society.
It is my purpose here to show a connection between the personally
lives, with his consequent mental suffering or even psychopathologi-
to enable them to buy good-quality seed. Thirdly, they lack an effi-
cal symptoms, and the structural violence identifiable in social
and again the corresponding destroyed or deficient individual per-
An example which, I think, vividly demonstrates structural vio-
sonality structure.
a land reform they were given their own land, the land which had
lence is that of the farm laborers of El Salvador. In the course of
are asking for permission to give the land back to their landlords
previously belonged to their masters, large landlords. Today they
and to have them as their masters again. What is the reason for
about how to farm the land effectively. Secondly they lack credits
this? Firstly they lack know-how. In many cases they know too little
factor has become part of the personality structure. On the one side
cient sales organization to enable them to sell their crops profit-
ably. It is therefore understandable that they should call in des-
virtual serfdom than they were living autonomously.
peration for their masters, because they were better off living in
This example already leads us to suspect that structural violence
ality structure of the individual. It is conceivable that other farm
must have had some sort of effect, so to say downfall on the person-
workers might have succeeded in building up an agricultural market-
Scientific theory formation, research and practice too are influ-
ing system of their own.
In the discussion between men and women we can study how this
it is a manifestation of structural violence when many women sit at
home, dependent on their husbands and only the men go to work but on
the other hand we also see that when they do go out, many women are
wether because they have had no qualified training or because they
at a loss because they also lack a large number of abilities -
are unable to assert themselves.
opportunities to women and if they are integrated in the decision
The quota allotting system by itself is no way out of this
dilemma, but only if other elements are added, giving learning
making process.
balance of power and to make change impossible.
I want to point out that it is a further characteristic of
structural violence that it always strives to preserve the current
enced by and imbued with structural violence. On the basis of
individual, as was postulated by Dollard and Miller (1939) or in
aggression theories I would like to demonstrate the influence of
structural violence on the formation of scientific theories.
If an aggression theory postulates that man is by nature, biolog-
ically destined to be aggressive and destructive and that nothing
small social groups are given any attention or analysis. Konrad
can change this, the only consequence can be that neither large nor
that Freud, with his biologically based drive theory, also remained
Lorenz's theory is a good example of this. But it could also be said
within the current framework of structural violence. On the other
Germany was discussed by Ammon (1970) for example, possesses a con-
hand an aggression theory which looks for the causes of destructive
aggression in the relationship between the surrounding group and the
institutionalizes the impossibility of revealing the forces underly-
siderably greater potential for destabilization and making conscious
structures of structural violence.
lence when the personal needs and opportunities of the individual
Moreover, I see it as a further characteristic of structural vio-
But structural violence is reflected not only in aggression theo-
are disregarded and he is forced into the preformed framework of a
theory of whatever kind.
example, or between psychology and legal sciences, and more seri-
ries but also in the division of labour, current in the scientific
world today between psychology and the political sciences, for
gated. This so-called scientific division of labour
ously in the division between scientists and professional politi-
cians to whom the responsibility for life or death has been dele-
adapted, seemingly compliant patient. But this character can also be
ing the exercise of structural violence. Structural violence is not
only difficult to perceive when one is subjected to it, it is also
manifested in the inability to develop, perceive and differentiate
I see all conditions which encourage the isolation of the indi-
manifestations of structural violence.
vidual and whole groups and hinder their ability to enter into
lively contact with others and to undergo further development as
This implies also a direct relationship to group-psychotherapy,
the extent of structural violence.
e.g. the capacity to participate in groups.
The extend of not lived human potentialities at any particular
time and in any particular place thus bears direct relationship to
In this connection the Zurich psychoanalyst Paul Parin (1983)
Underlying this development is an attitude of the primary group
fittingly characterized the narrow-minded petty bourgeois, a charac-
ter we frequently find in group psychotherapy as the overly well
well found in the countries of former so called "real socialism", as
I was told by Eastern European psychotherapist.
needs until they conform to what his social circumstances offer him.
The petty bourgeois is a person who suppresses and changes his
school he does not give them support to enable them to face the
It is typical for the petty bourgeois that when his children go to
he hands his children over to the teacher and the institution or the
restrictions and frustrations which school imposes on them. Instead
ideal they represent. Thus, when a child goes home anxious and
and the teacher are right and you must do as they say". It is not
uncertain he cannot rely on his parents saying "we'll support you"
but it is faced with the petty bourgeois attitude that "the school
are factors, prone to exert and increase structural violence.
the parents who decide what is good and what is bad, but the ideals
represented by the teachers.
towards the child which does not convey the message "You are good,
you are important whatever happens" but instead that wether you are
good is doubtful and that it is not yet certain whether you will be
This petty bourgeois ego-structures, which most of us probably
have to a varying degree, is a reflection of structural violence
On the other hand, I do understand all conditions, which encour-
which prevents the growing of differentiated ego- and group-struc-
ing up against structural violence. Thus the spread of a western-
age differentiation of individuals and the differentiation of
group-structures (internal differentiation, as well as differenti-
ated relationships to a variety of other groups) as a factor, stand-
type mono-culture, over-bureaucracy with its dead institutions as
attain awareness of structural violence. The starting point for this
well as the trend to a "world-government" composed of super-powers
When encountering structural violence we face challenges on two
different levels:
Firstly, there is the ability to perceive, where structural vio-
lence manifests itself, where structural violence is exercised and
from which power structures it emanates.
develop alternative structures of interpersonal relations and to
Secondly, there is the ability to combat structural violence, to
I therefore postulate that the ability to form groups and to form
develop and offer alternative group structures.
An example of this in our recent West-German history is the green
a network of human relationships is the starting point for combat-
ting structural violence.
feminist groups which, in the course of a long process of talking to
movement, which has grown from a number of small interest groups and
each other and getting to know each other, have joined together to
because the potential enemy is so strong. It is possible to be
form a large group or political party. In my opinion this represents
the interlinking of groups whose original objective was to at least
was a feeling of being personally affected, wether with regard to an
atomic power station, the destruction of nature by building a road,
civil rights or in the many other groups which feel personally
the deformation of cities, an initiative against the curtailment of
threatened by the insane arm race and build-up.
istic is that the feeling of the individual members of the group are
The characteristic feature of these groups is that personal feel-
ings are perceived, taken seriously and shared. A further character-
is new here is that the feelings are placed in a social context.
not split off, but are integrated in the group and used as the
starting point for new perceptions, investigations and actions. What
I would like to illustrate this with an example. It is possible
afraid of the risk of an accidental atomic war or a nuclear accident
to be afraid of the atomic bomb or of the arms race and nevertheless
permanently convince oneself that it is all only in our own interest
feelings of personal concern is a manifestation of structural vio-
on the territory of our republic - as was some time ago brought home
to all of us by a Pershing II accident near Heilbronn - and never-
threat by the enemy. Or it is possible in the framework of a group,
theless to split off this fear and perceive it in the guise of a
Only in the interaction with a group which is not existentially
a secure group-dynamic setting, for this fear to be perceived and to
lead to a course of actions.
feel and conceptualize the structural violence to which he is sub-
dependent on conformity with the existing power structures, can a
human level of perception develop which permits the individual to
the ability to stand up against it.
It seems to me that a feeling of personal concern is the most
important momentum for the perception of structural violence and for
I would like to postulate that a feeling of emotional concern can
From the point of human opportunities available to the individual
be a signal that one is subjected to structural violence and that on
the other hand the ridiculing, waving aside and disregarding of
lence. I would like to illustrate this hypothesis on the basis of
the treatment of death and birth. The expectation that with today's
medicine death is merely an avoidable biological accident has led
our daily life. I see this as a manifestation of structural vio-
amongst other things to an ever increasing exclusion of death from
and express all possible feelings.
lence, however, tearing apart the fabric of human life and denying
people the opportunity to live life to the full and to experience
of life not only as an individual problem of dealing with fear or as
I see the exclusion of dying and death from the remaining context
a problem arising from destructive or deficient small group situa-
of the whole and where the individuals' feelings concerning dying
tion but as the reflection of the social situation of a large group
in which the individual is deformed to a cogwheel in the machinery
tural violence stemming from a mechanistic understanding of human
and death are regarded not as an integral part of life, but as an
obstacle to efficient work.
to experience and to express feelings and to share them with others,
the relegation and exclusion of the dying within the medical machin-
ery poses an enormous restriction on the life potential of individu-
In my opinion the way we deal with birth is similar to the way we
als and groups.
deal with death and dying. The medical Association of North Rhine
tality. These showed that most birth take place on weekdays between
Westphalia in 1985 published statistics on birth and neonatal mor-
10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and that neonatal mortality has increased by
hours of the staff is not mentioned. The increase in neonatal mor-
almost 80% within the last two years. That this is the case because
most births are artificially induced and have to fit in with working
plete isolation and taken out of the human context of birth. This is
tality officially is explained as a consequence of increasing car-
diac and respiratory problems and is thus seen as a symptom in com-
biological, scientistic medicine at its worst.
tion of a superficially seen military technocratic system robs us of
This appears to me to be a particularly blatant example of struc-
life and an absolutely inflexible hospital organization in which
births are programmed and even though the father is present at the
birth this is only a formality as the human context between the
mother and father and the surrounding group of midwife and doctor is
completely destroyed and the obstetric team is only a dead, inflexi-
the possibility of a creative human birth embedded in a group and a
ble, pseudo-group. I think that the neonatal mortality associated
with this is the direct manifestation of structural violence that
holistic life context has been destroyed and that this destruction
of life opportunities is in fact a manifestation of structural vio-
recently particularly from the East. This assumption is in my opin-
I think that unconscious attitudes can also be a manifestation of
structural violence, such as the unconscious and partly conscious
scious. This desirable and encouraged basic mistrust as the founda-
assumption that all evil comes from without, in our case until
ion based on a continuously fostered attitude. I think one could say
many opportunities of human encounter.
that this attitude lies on a continuum between conscious and uncon-
plary manifestation of structural violence as it helps to prevent
Max Scheler (1916) drew up and elucidated the criteria of the
militaristic mentality - that its aim is to prevent human coopera-
tion with the potential enemy. I think we have here not only an
tural violence, which is expressed most clearly in the concept and
individual militaristic mentality but the manifestation of struc-
stantly anticipates war in order to subdue its possibly manifest
practice of deterrence. This is a practice which, so to speak, con-
forward to getting to know people of foreign cultures, to take part
Would our defence not look very different if right from the cra-
dle, in kindergarten, in school, in the family, we learnt to look
tures, if we learnt to see the human needs of our "enemy neighbors"
in exchange programs, to live in families of foreign countries and
cultures and to work on joint projects with people of other cul-
of foreign nations and cultures, particularly members of so-called
as something from which we can learn and with which we can communi-
vant, bureaucracy dependent family who couldn't even envision an in-
This unconscious hostile attitude with regard to meeting members
potential enemy nations, could not, in my opinion be a more exem-
any questioning of existing power structures. I would also like to
level in the framework of so-called arms control and balance of
point out that what happens psychologically at an international
the relationship of state institutions toward citizens in the sense
deterrence, takes place at a national level between citizens and in
What is repeated within the matrix of the group are not only fam-
of a psychological infrastructure, frequently mirrored in our psy-
chotherapeutic groups.
the larger social systems is repeated by the patient, who takes a
ily dynamics and psycho-dynamics but also social dynamics, that
means the social position the patients primary group did have within
has no self confidence in his ability and who stems from an underdog
particular position, role and attitude within the group.
I would like to illustrate this by the example of a patient who
family, who saw no chance in life to change their life-style. Or the
the quality of his relationship. He was brought up in a civil ser-
dependent patient who at the age of 26 or 28 is still daily fed by
his mother and isn't even fully aware of the inappropriateness of
assumed persecutor inevitably leads to self-destruction as the sup-
dependent self-responsible life. Or, I think of the patient, who is
permanently clinging to some fellow patient or preferably to the
and attachment that shows him he is worth something. They reflect a
therapist to catch a glimpse of recognition and, of supposed love
frequently enmeshed in a permanent quest for consumer goods, but al-
primary group that was driven by the quest for public recognition,
The most painful to watch maybe are the patients that permanently
ways pursued vain, superficial values, lacking any deeper relation-
ship to their deeper identity needs.
that they are not wanted and that there is no place for them - they
repeat and demonstrate that they have no right to be on this earth,
represent frequently our most suffering psychiatric patients and
and of the assumption of wrong as the justification for further sur-
they reflect a deep rooted experience of their own families of being
not admitted to human society.
But in order not to fall pray to the mistake "all evil comes from
It is not hard to see that a system of mistrust and surveillance
veillance and restriction resembles paranoic illness. But we know
from the psychopathology of paranoia that the struggle against the
posed victim becomes the destructive persecutor. I should emphasize
here that I do not mean that we should have blind faith in every-
thing. I am talking here of the inability to judge adequately wether
trust is appropriate or caution because real dangers are present. It
ceptual capacities.
is necessary to develop a realistic sensitivity and realistic per-
Structural violence today is yielded on a global scale:
ships with feelings of suspicion, different from natural disasters
The constant nuclear threat, air pollution etc. nourish continu-
ously a sickening level of anxiety, poison interpersonal relation-
that in turn tend to unite mankind.
weakest members, the children. We thus can diagnose in our patients
These permanent man-made threats also give raise to destructive
social moods that in turn effect families and most certainly their
the effects of a cumulative traumatic social mood, that destroys the
reactions, depression and other psychopathological reactions as
joy of life and kills the hope for the future and leads to various
forms of depressive reactions, to a deeply rooted feeling of being
crippled attempts, to encounter these threats.
unable to change one's fate, and last not least, to psychosomatic
from his position and called into being the" Ground Zero" movement
without" it is important to look for the link between structural
violence at the level of large groups and at the individual level. I
reflected in individual personality structures and then in turn
have already postulated above that structural violence is also
itself takes effect and exercises structural violence.
as if through a sudden revelation, managed to withdraw from these
It is interesting in this context to look at examples of people
who were embedded in a setting of structural violence and who then,
generals who, interestingly, often at the time of their retirement
structures. I am thinking here of atomic physicists who built the
bomb and suddenly said "Stop! I'm not going on with this!", or of
(1982), a nuclear engineer who had already acted as advisor to sev-
or shortly afterwards have dissociated themselves from the current
military strategy.
one day a girl-friend went into his room. At the sight of these pins
I am thinking here too of the example of the American R,Molander
eral US presidents and whose walls were covered with pins represent-
representing 200,000, 5000,000, or 1,000,000 dead she was utterly
ing the number of dead in atomic bombardments of Soviet towns until
injured personal integrity.
shocked and shaken, as to her these pins were real human beings.
This genuine concern and upset reached Molander and he retired
I must confess that for me my polish as well as Jewish friends
in the US.
gave me a great deal of the courage to encounter structural vio-
lence. Their example to go back to their country, though martial law
had been established and they could have comfortably stayed in
nation whose members had manslaughtered their family-members, this
West-Germany, but even more their courage to visit and encounter the
become very important to me.
courage to bear their feelings and not to be stuck in a stereotyped
view of other human beings touched a string in my mind and has
the place where it is perceived and where it is possible to communi-
In order to perceive structural violence it is necessary to have
a boundary between the area where structural violence operates and
cate about it.
upon him, helping him to value his emotional cues he senses, to re-
Giving trust and confronting the patient with his nihilism, help-
ing him to experience his low self-esteem as ego-alien, as imposed
sist ridicule and to increasingly acquire a feeling for his identi-
importance of feelings of shame as an indicator of a compromised and
ty-needs represent the first step towards restoring and freeing a
destroyed identity-development.
Because we must be aware of the fact that structural violence
A further step, I don't want to discuss here in detail, is the
chance at the same time. The chance to become aware, make visible,
wants to keep the balance of power as it is, it wants to control the
needs and wishes of the individual and whole population groups, the
threat to the yielders of structural violence.
capacity to sense own needs, to live an own identity is a permanent
This brings up the question of the enmeshment of the therapist
is he the cogwheel of a health insurance system that fosters me-
with structural violence. This problem rises on two levels.
First, is he the tool, the toy of structural violent forces, e.g.
is a typical example as well as the purely mechanistic view or the
chanical health and adaptive functioning but prevents the identity
development of its members (the 20 year long psychosomatic patient
psychiatry, adapted as one of its tools to adapt the patient more
dominantly genetic view of somatic and psychic diseases).
Already Freud preview the danger of the so-called medicalization
of Psychoanalysis, that psychoanalytic therapy would be swallowed by
efficiently to existing powers structures with all its consequences
the group therapist, the transference represents a danger and a
of a complete compliancy with the prevailing suppression and the
reigning powers that strive to maintain them.
"Unconscious" is being frozen and tamed. Thus the role ascribed to
We always should be aware of the fact that in social roles the
tion is typical of people, who successfully combat structural vio-
sensible the "frozen" unconscious, the petrified structural violence
and at the other hand to further maintain and strengthen the pre-
cribed roles by our patient, but also are the object of transfer-
vailing system of structural violence. Because we are not only as-
ences, role-prescriptions, and role-seductions by institutions
the detachment from societal, institutional seduction and enmeshment
society, government, health-insurance systems and others.
This is exactly the point where the process of "social death",
internalization of structural violence.
without loosing concern and without ceasing social-participation be-
comes the focal process.
the ability to place themselves outside the social arena and from
Second is the question of is own personality structure and his
As an example of personalities who are able to resist structural
violence I am thinking her of marginal figures in society who have
there are able to perceive structural violence, to put it into
ability to dissociate himself from his society, to gather a group
words, and to gather groups about them in order to combat it. I am
thinking here of Mao Tse Tung, for example, who although born of
handling the freedom given to them, destroy it and often turn
Chinese society and by no means rich in experience abroad, had the
around himself and to go on the long march to combat structural vio-
Freud and his social death, his detachment from social recogni-
lence in the individual and in themselves. Thus, Mao initiated a
large-scale campaign against illiteracy and each man in a marching
column during the great march wear a large Chinese character on his
back so that the man marching behind him could learn a new charac-
structural violence occur and where strategies for the perception
On the other hand I am thinking of places where areas free of
the numerous peace and ecology groups. Quite obviously the Solidar-
and combatting of structural violence can be developed, such as in
nosz movement belonged to this type of group. They form a boundary
lives and our environment is often possible for the first time and
against peacelessness and environmental destruction and create an
area where perception of our destructive way of dealing with our
where, in the name of elimination of structural violence, the struc-
where forces for change can grow.
No wonder that these groups are often ridiculed or even forbid-
den. But they also create an area in which discussion of the "I told
you so!" effect is possible. I am thinking here of the examples,
denly emerges after a few month that these people are not capable of
turally non-violent and oppressed are given autonomy and sover-
eignty, as in the case of the farm-workers in El Salvador, as well
as many of those on social security and many women, where it sud-
The separation process from the psychotherapeutic group, from the
against it by completely neglecting the nice apartments given to
them, they prove incapable of bearing responsibility and exercising
care and judgment. Such examples are used again and again by the
along that they are not capable of it". At the same time it is con-
wielders of structural violence to say "I told you so! I said all
tive personality structures of those concerned which are the product
scientiously ignored that this is the outcome of deficient-destruc-
of structural violence and that a change in which the victims of
structural violence can only succeed if it goes hand in hand with
structural violence are only formally liberated and given power,
capital or knowledge is doomed to failure as the liberation from
succeed in giving up their petrified roles and rigid positions in
the opportunity for a liberating compensatory ego-development.
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
culture as a brother-human culture, both cultures can learn from
favour of an interaction on a different level, e.g. getting to know
each other, to learn from each other etc.. Only if the rigid culture
of the oppressor does open up itself and experiences the oppressed
parts of the personality structure and of an internalized group-dy-
each other. To become aware of the interdependence of human cultures
becomes only possible if the colonial attitude has been truly aban-
therapist represents, at its best, this "solution" of the colonial
situation where structural violence ceases to exist and both recog-
nize and respect each other as unique human organisms. However there
is a long way to that goal.
tutes in psychotherapy and group-analysis tend, themselves, to main-
It is no great secret that the majority of the training insti-
to help the therapist-to-be to bring to the open existing struc-
tain and perpetuate existing power-structures and are not very prone
to oppose them. (I only would like to mention here the West-German
tures of structural violence or even to profoundly question them and
system of the "adjunct title" of psychotherapy to medical doctors
thus the status of a quasi civil-servant with all the financial
and its correspondent for psychologists. Its aim is to give the
psychotherapist-to-be access to the health insurance money-pot and
securities and administrative imprisonments respectively).
living in completely foreign cultures, and the psychotherapeutic
Experiences I found helpful in the process of becoming aware of
and working through internalized structures of structural violence
are encounters in culturally very heterogeneous groups, the longer
structive detachment that make it possible to become aware of own
training under a member of a foreign culture, who is not a member of
the prevailing power structure.
structural violence is to enter into or to create situations of con-
The art and the skill in challenging internalized structures of
work away, at the mercy of a sluggish and overpowered administrative
namic 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 very to the point: It is suffi-
culture and colonialism there and here) show us what we made of them
cient that our victims (by this he meant the victims of European
to get an idea what we made out of ourselves.
who is not merely satisfied to be a cogwheel of the existing power-
And thus I feel it the utmost task of any group-psychotherapist,
structure and a transmitter of structural violence, to continuously
that demand personal change, to what degree do I submit to an adap-
question himself and expose himself to situations that make possible
the question, to what degree do I repress and oppress experiences
superego which is unyielding to human needs and to fellow human
tive medico-therapeutic repairshop enterprise that merely adapts the
patient and alienates him even further from himself, and to what
requires relationships to other people, the security and protection
degree do I conduct scientific research under the control of a
beings as well.
Structural violence can only be perceived and combatted by indi-
viduals and groups, who are able to perceive and tolerate fear. This
lated and cut off, without the support of a surrounding group, they
of a constructive group with a positive basic mood.
I think that many of our politicians are neither corrupt or evil
makes it impossible to perceive, let alone to tolerate fear. Iso-
but that they live in a personal and political environment which
non-violence led Thoreau to the recognition that a citizen has the
apparatus, which often determines everything; so as to stand up to
competition they try to make a name for themselves with what are
often in reality insignificant details. They often have neither the
inner nor the interpersonal freedom to sense or discuss anything of
do not have the ability to create for themselves a group of criti-
an existential, essential or significant nature and sadly they often
cally supporting people.
positive image of man, is a challenge to all forms of structural
To combat structural violence we also need to combat the basic
mistrust which exists at the basis of our technocratic system. A
nal youth the opportunity to be honest.
violence. To give women the vote, to determine over their body, to
provide qualified and interesting or like Makarenko, to give crimi-
plines which helps to preserve structural violence. In the struggle
In order to combat structural violence we also need to combat the
scientific division of labour between universities and private
extent it is possible to combat structural violence at the level of
institutions and the division of labour between different disci-
against structural violence we can, therefore, say "the road is the
The consideration of structural violence leads me to ask to what
the large social group. I am thinking here of freedom fighters such
perceptible, visible, and open to change.
as Thoreau, Ghandi and Martin Luther King.
Thoreau was inspired by the writings and teachings of the Hindu
right and the duty to break laws which are against humanity.
religion, Ghandi by Thoreau and King by both. The philosophy of
Ghandi developed satyagraha, a powerful concept combining love
and strength, as the theoretical method which makes it possible to
unify and motivate structurally non-violent groups and to change
King was convinced that Ghandi's method was the only moral and
violent structures.
possible way for an oppressed group of people to fight against
develop further an understanding of satyagraha as he saw it against
social injustice. With the concept of agape he himself tried to
his Christian background. For him Agape, understanding as the
loved community. Through agape he saw all human life as being in
redeeming good will open to all people, was the form of love in the
teachings of Christ with the help of which one could restore the
that there is a quantum leap in development. It is not necessary to
mutual relationship, all human beings as brothers, all humanity as a
single process of development.
in my opinion, that we should weave a net and establish relation-
I think that the importance of todays approach lies in the fact
avenge hate with hate in order to make the bitterness of this world
higher, more differentiated level. The message to be given today is,
even greater but to challenge the opponent at a developmentally
tional context. In international comparison the narrow-minded, petty
ships with many groups. What distinguishes us from 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 interna-
Düsseldorf Teaching and Training Institut of Psychoanalysis
bourgeois group behavior at the international level often becomes
This view emphasizes the importance of such international insti-
tutions like the WHO, UNESCO, or the UN etc., that carry the poten-
tial of opening an international and transcultural space, thus
planting the seed for the perception of an invisible web of
Ammon, G.(1970): Gruppendynamik der Aggression. Kindler, München
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