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FOR A GROUP IN PRACTICE—                                  

THE BASIS FOR TRANSFORMATION.                      


         CHAPTER FOUR IS A PRESENTATION OF                         


               A HEALTHY TRANSFORMATION IS PRACTICED.                 




The transformative qualities of the Group have been studied from two different perspectives. The first focus is on theoretical issues involving the genesis and formation of groups. This topic is followed by studies of individuals’ participation and development within groups, accomplished by reviewing the writings of several eminent clinicians, philosophers, and social scientists. We then review pertinent research regarding the quality of transformation. These approaches to the study of participation in groups lead to a summation of research identifying factors describing and promoting Group communicational environment—the basic ingredients of a healthy Group transformation.

            In this chapter and the next we study an existing Group in practice, particularly the theory, philosophy, and technique which have been developed to promote healthy Group Transformation. On a personal note, these two chapters represent my own training and clinical experience leading to the development of the Crisis Intervention Workshop which is Part III of this study: The Application.

           Dr. Wallace and Mrs. Edna McAfee have hosted a Group for over eighteen years, presently meeting twice weekly. 1   At one time the McAfees and members tried to develop a name to describe the Group. We settled on “Human Development Group” or “Responsibilty Development Group”, although these names barely begin to convey the significance of the Group to itself and its members. The composition of the Group includes patients in individual and family psychotherapy, college students with interests including psychology, education, and related fields, and other interested people with backgrounds including homemaking, business, management, religion, politics, science, the arts, and medicine. Whether participants call themselves patients, counselees, students, or Group members, there is broad understanding that we are all working on personal development and the necessarily related areas of family, community, and social development. Sometimes members can not say exactly why they continue to participate in Group but feel it to be an important and vital growth experience.  

           While Wallace is clinical leader, Edna acts as hostess. These are probably roles that they have played for many years since Wallace’s time as a church pastor. Edna is also a psychologist and licensed therapist. She is co-therapist, often a mother figure—a very outspoken and important person to Group members.

            The Group grew out of several sources. Dr. McAfee’s doctoral research focused on the study of group process in Alcoholic Anonymous (149) which was, at the time of his inquiry, a relatively new, unresearched organization. He also has over twenty years of clinical practice both privately and on psychiatric hospital staff, this following 25 years of pastoral experience. Edna is retired from a position as a school psychologist, working with children and adolescents that we would now call ‘high risk’.  2  

           Wallace describes his findings in a personally dictated monograph named The Responsibily Group

The characterization of AA as Mutual Therapy with pertinent sequences of experience for its members gives an indication of the subsequent dynamics of the new group. It is as if the narrower approach to alcoholics was expanded and developed into a more comprehensive approach to persons with a wider spectrum of personal situations. 

The Responsibility Group (150:1).

Participation in Group varies slightly from meeting to meeting. Most members attend weekly or bi-weekly, although a few more occasionally. It is not an open group. Members are invited by the McAfees and usually friends or family are welcome if pre-arranged. The McAfees are practicing clinicians and fees are arranged with them.

            Over the eighteen years there has also been a gradual change in membership with new members attending and more experienced members leaving. Even those who do not continue in the Group are considered to be part of the wider Group community and often still consider themselves as members of Group. The adult offspring of some ‘old-timers’ have become members of the Group later on. Sometimes, because their families had been in family therapy with Wallace McAfee earlier in their lives, they are like ‘old-timers’ themselves. Thus Group traditions evolve. This may be an example of part of Group Cohesiveness or another as yet unnamed “Therapeutic Factor” in addition to Yalom’s eleven.  Living Groups, like their individual members, change and evolve over time. This, of course, is one of the themes of  Transformation in the Group

            The size of Group at any one meeting varies from 4 persons to 12 or 14 and upon rare occasions has exceeded 20. Contrary to many organizations, the large size is not desirable.  McAfee goes by the rule that 18 people at a meeting is the extreme maximum number for an effective primary Group experience. Any more than this may lead to a crowd experience with its resulting sense of anonymity.  

An ideal that Group strives for is toward becoming a part of what McAfee terms The Community of Caring. By this he reflects that throughout society there are biological and social forces that bring human beings together to form a constructive society. Some have termed these forces as ‘love’ in one of its forms (differentiating the traditional forms of agape, Eros, philios, etc.). Although many social critics focus on the shortcomings of society, these problems only come about because human beings have the drive or desire to live together. Without this propensity, we would have no society to criticize. Indeed, we probably would not have survived to be human. In Group, then, we attempt to live and help one another live in accordance with The Good Society by forming a Community of Caring and joining other persons and groups who have similar goals.

            This community feeling is complete in many aspects and Group activities have included such events as would be found in any true community; Group activities have even included marriages and funerals. It was with this community in mind that I describe, in the Introduction, a community that stretches over a geographical area with a population of over a million people.

            Some of the historical antecedents of The Community of Caring include the first church which met as small groups in members’ homes. An ideal our community holds for individual members also comes from Christian sources. Dr. McAfee quotes what he calls “The Diamond Rule: ‘Happy are you when you are accused and persecuted unjustly. Rejoice and be glad for great is your inner reward.’ ”. This is a paraphrase of the beatitude:

How blest are those that suffer persecution for the cause of right; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

New English Bible, Matthew 5:10

The change of wording to “inner reward” comes from another statement attributed to Jesus: 

The Pharisees asked him: “When will the kingdom of God come?” He said, “You can not tell by observation when the kingdom of God comes. There will be no saying, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ for in fact the kingdom of God is among you.”

A footnote to this verse continues, expands, or shows variations on the interpretation of this thought:

Or for in fact the kingdom of God is within you! or for in fact the kingdom of God is within your grasp! or suddenly the kingdom of God will be among you!           

New English Bible, Luke 17:20, 21.

McAfee makes a point that this change of wording to “inner reward” is critical in order not to confuse people with other meanings that the phrase “kingdom of heaven” (which he uses synonomously with “kingdom of God”) has come to be associated. He always emphasizes that these principles should be practiced in order to improve our lives in the present; we should work toward a meaningful and joyous life for ourselves and others.
The Diamond Rule is a principle that McAfee presents that is helpful in dealing with anger. There are times that we receive treatment from others that is difficult. Another person may have been provocative or unfair. Sometimes a situation is difficult with no apparent cause or this may be outside our control or from a source that seems too remote or too powerful for us to deal with. If we respond with anger, hurt, anxiety, or similar emotions, we only compound our dilemma and internalize the negative situation. This experience is only added to what already has a good deal of injustice. Therefore The Diamond Rule: “If we respond to life’s blows with joy, we may grow.” Notice, and McAfee emphasizes this point, joy is not because we have been mistreated—that would be masochism— joy is because we have an opportunity to grow. A clearer conscious awareness of the situation is also part of this process leading to growth. We can grow by developing and practicing healthy responses to potentially harmful situations. An added goal that McAfee also emphasizes is that we do not have to punish ourselves for inner emotional turmoil or even our perceived shortcomings, behaviors we often learned growing-up. While it is important to acknowledge guilt and emotional pain, as discussed late in this chapter, if we transform our reactions with a sense of joy and vitality, we are helped to develop our fuller sense of humanity. The dynamics that will be developed, center around the resolution and transformation of anger. This is McAfee’s central topic in his approach to guilt and forgiveness. Psychodrama, Catharsis and its resolution, the topic of the next chapter, is a model for a transformative approach to anger and other related disturbing emotional reactions such as anxiety, nervous confusion, psychosomatic complaints, and other highly disrupting difficulties. 3

            The ideals of The Community of Caring and The Diamond Rule are not easily achieved, probably never completely, but they show a long-range direction for transformation. They are central features of the ideals toward which we work. These are the principles that Dr. McAfee sees as the foundations of his philosophy of transformation.  

            This chapter and the next present outlook and methods by which these ideals are practiced in the McAfees’ Group. In Section A the basic theory underlying this transformation is presented. This theory is grounded in an ideal related to and encompassing The Community of Caring and The Diamond Rule. In sum, the theory tells us that we experience Guilt to the extent that we misuse or avoid our potential Freedom. By becoming conscious of Guilt and working toward Forgiveness, we may grow toward our ideals. The Group, in its realization of The Community of Caring, offers both a source of reflection for properly establishing Guilt and also functions as a mediator of Forgiveness. By establishing an appropriate Group environment, the theories and research presented earlier are focused into a healthful Group process. 

            Section A of this chapter represents my description and summary of the philosophy that underpins Dr. McAfee’s approach to Group and transformation. Then, because Guilt and resolution—Forgiveness—is a focal dynamic to this process, in Section B I will discuss these issues, comparing them with the points of view of three prominent clinicians. In Section C Wallace McAfee’s views are presented verbatim. While Section A, being theoretical, is more of a structural presentation of the philosophy as it is communicated in practice, Section C is a discussion with Dr. McAfee about his reasons for developing Groups in this particular manner. It should be noted that the Group is constantly evolving and this statement should not be taken as a final one about Groups; this interview reflects Dr. McAfee’s thoughts at the time of this writing and interview (1977). We are then led to Chapter Four which presents Psychodrama, one highly effective technique by which this theory and philosophy is practiced in Group, for use in greater life beyond the Group.

          This description of Group is necessarily only partially complete. Like the magnifying glass examination of DaVinci’s fresco mentioned earlier in this paper, I am only able to portray a small sample of actual Group activities. Likewise, in the next chapter I concentrate on the technique of Psychodrama and not mention many other therapeutic methods that the McAfees employ toward Group goals. These include modified and broadened hypnosis, de-conditioning and re-conditioning of healthier responses to difficult and stressful situations, controlled ‘rage’ experiences, exercises which build self esteem through muscular and emotional effort, and participation in a broad social milieu outside of the Group, activities that go far beyond the meeting. Group activities have included visiting members and non-active members and accompanying people for support to meetings that they find difficult. Some examples of these ‘outside’ situations where Group members have supported one another are classes, jobs, court appearances, hospital and medical situations, participating and leading church discussion groups and Sunday Schools, and meetings with family members. Group members have taken one another into each others’ homes, temporarily, if a family situation is too difficult. This has included caring for very confused or emotionally overwhelmed members during outpatient psychotherapeutic treatment. As one Group member joked: “McAfee boots us out to do something.”

A.  Sources of Freedom.   4

The Group philosophy that underlies the transformation that we are studying centers on two dynamic tensions. First, each individual Group member personifies a tension of growth. Second, we participate in relationship to other members of the Group. These tensions are both our individual challenges and our Group challenge. Following Wallace McAfee’s description of the behavioral dynamics of choice and freedom, we see ourselves as moving from a position described as “Compulsion” toward an ideal of life described as “Freedom”. The second tension, the individual’s relations to the Group, is the topic of the greater part of this study. It may be viewed as the macrocosm. The first tension, the challenge to each individual member to change and improve, is the microcosm and is the topic of this chapter. In this section we will concentrate on the Compulsion-Freedom parameter that each member develops for himself or herself to promote personal development.

            The structural description that follows is my distillation of Wallace McAfee’s Group ideals. He would probably differ somewhat (hopefully only ‘somewhat’!), from my description of his philosophy if asked by a third party. Group members differ with one another’s views, would differ with my understanding of Wallace’s ideas, even differ with him about his own ideas. This often happens in Group sessions. We have many discussions comparing and contrasting ideas both individually and in Group. In this study, I attempt to understand and summarize his views which are well established from a great deal of experience while still constantly evolving. He is always interested to understand our views. Sometimes his questions about our views are unsettling. Trying to make conscious what he likes to call “half baked ideas” (with both positive and negative connotations) is not always easy. This is part of the dynamic process that makes Group interesting and challenging. The next step is to apply these ideals to our everyday lives and our interactions with our significant others. Therapy often moves a person into new areas of approach to life; at times it is uncomfortable, always intellectually and emotionally stimulating, and sometimes fun.

            I am using the word Compulsion in the broadest sense, not merely as a psychiatric diagnosis describing socially destructive or dysfunctionally repetitious behavior. Human beings have the ability to allow life passively to take place. (Although even in this statement, words like “ability” and especially “allow” signify a realization of rudimentary choice.) In the course of life, habits develop. It is likely that these habits, like instincts in other animals, have been maintained in our behavioral repertoire due to their survival value, but with no thought and little effort we continue life in a state of inertia, only to change course when another force impinges upon us and then only to the degree and direction of that force. 5  The description that William James uses to illustrate habit in his Principles of Psychology is of an old coat hung on the rack so long that when finally worn shows the indelible marks of the hanger (104:104). True, as James also points out, life would make no sense to us if we were not able to retain our past experiences. We could be overwhelmed with minutia. We would be like the four-year old taking half-an-hour each morning to tie our shoes. Once the task is learned, we go on to other challenges and tying our shoes is habitualized to less than a moment. The thought of tying shoes does not clutter our conscious mind. Probably most of us did not even think about what we were doing when we tied our shoes today (104:113). Were our existence to be one of summation of habits, the learning theorists would have our psychology figured out and sealed up (Except that we would have to find how learning theory itself existed before it was described and Pavlov, Thorndike, Watson, Skinner, et. al., would have to return the awards and adulations as developers of the field, this having happened by chance and reinforcement.).

            As Mead shows, while we interact with other people, we become known to them and they become known to us through quality personal communication, We reflect on our behavior and attitudes, sometimes even who we are. Communication from others helps us to develop new insights about ourselves. We come to understand that some of the things we do or have done ‘habitually’ actually involves choice. We see how we may have made better choices in the past and where we can make improved choices in the future. This is the catalyst for the development of Freedom.

            The important point for our philosophy is that Compulsion and Freedom co-exist as a part of life; one sometimes eclipsing the other in our thinking about our acting, but, also, each affirming the other. It is upon the foundation of these habits that our more complex activities develop. When these habitual behaviors come to interfere with growth, however, Compulsion has blocked development. John Dewey Democracy and Education describes both advantages but also traps of habit: “...(habit) means the formation of intellectual and emotional disposition as well as an increase in ease, economy, and efficiency of action.” He then describes several expressions of habits including: intellectual disposition, acquaintance with materials and equipment, ways of understanding the situation, modes of thought, observation and reflection, judging and reasoning. He cautions, however about fixed habits: “But the phrase is also used to mean ruts, routine ways, with loss of freshness openmindedness, and originality. Fixity of habit may mean that something has a fixed hold on us instead of our having a free hold on things...two points in common about habits: their identification with mechanical and external modes of action to the neglect of mental and moral attitudes, and the tendency to give them a bad meaning...‘bad habit’.” Dr. Dewey‘s description approaches diagnostic detail: “Habits reduce themselves to routine ways of acting or degenerate into ways of action to which we are enslaved just in the degree in which intelligence is disconnected from them... ‘bad’ habits are habits so severed from reason that they are opposed to the conclusion of conscious deliberation and decision... that possess us instead of us possessing them...that put an end to plasticity... short-sighted method which falls back on the mechanical routine and repetition to secure external efficiency,... motor skill without accompanying thought, (marking) a deliberate closing in of surroundings on growth” (50:49). 

            There are finer distinctions to be made in the polarity between Compulsion and Freedom. A parallelism of approach may be described. To the degree that we act out of Compulsion, we are excusable. We do not choose our behavior so we cannot be held responsible for the consequences—although the results of these actions may still be problematic or damaging. To the degree that we act out of Freedom, we are responsible for the consequences. If the results of our free act are disastrous, as we come to be conscious of this, we will experience Guilt.

            As we stand in the present and reflect on the past, it is not hard to find situations in our lives that were not exactly what we would wish for could we relive them. It may be that we failed or that another person failed us. If we find, in our meditation, that the situation could not have happened otherwise, we assign a high degree of Compulsion and excuse ourselves or the other person involved. The word ‘failed’ also does not belong to this description as it signifies possible choice. Continued resentment or agony is also not a part of excuse and may indicate that we are really assigning a higher degree of blame than we realize. When we blame either ourselves or others, we are assigning responsibility and assuming that the participants in our situation acted largely with Freedom, i. e. they could have chosen otherwise. Guilt, then, is the experience of accepting blame and responsibility for our acts. We realize that, out of free choice, we chose or acted wrongly; we did not fulfill our human potential.

            Often, however, awareness comes in the opposite order. A person may feel Guilt about an action but verbally, consciously, deny responsibility. Guilt, however, indicates a sense, perhaps an intuition, of responsibility, although we may not be quite sure what that responsibility is at this time. Guilt is often described by McAfee as the “hope word”: an indication of the presence of Freedom. 

Before proceeding, we may summarize:

        Freedom :          Choice; Self Control                     Responsibility; Guilt.


        Compulsion :      Habit; Conditioned Behavior         Excuse.

The categories Freedom and Compulsion are never pure in human life. Every act has a certain percentage of Freedom and a certain percentage of Compulsion. Our goal, then, after recognizing the presence of each of these categories in past actions, is to look toward the future and work toward increasing Freedom. To accomplish this we must return to our “hope word”. Our Guilt is an indicator of our Freedom.

            Guilt is not the end, however. As long as we are Guilty, we recognize our Freedom but also feel that we are not acting in accord with it. A mismanaged past yields a mismanaged present and points to a mismanaged future. We see this and feel the Guilt of it all. So What?!! This sounds pretty much like the fatalistic and sometimes fatal inertia of Compulsion only with a load of Guilt besides! Sometimes it hits us all at once and can be overwhelming!

         The other possibility that we mentioned briefly is Forgiveness. We are not referring to a simple formula, however, i. e., listing of sins, receiving a recipe of acts of penance or a brush off with a facile ‘OK’ like: ‘I’m sure you meant well. Don’t sweat it.’ Then after a trite assurance of Forgiveness continuing life as usual. It is also not a rush of crowd contagion with babbling, jumping, rolling, sweating possesion, leaving ‘reborn’. Forgiveness, just as life, is quite a bit more complex and requires some thoughtful, sustained work. This central approach, then, to transformation, is the realization of Guilt and the acceptance of Forgiveness. It is on this topic that we will now concentrate.

B. Guilt - Resolution - Forgiveness 

One of the central premises of McAfee’s approach is that as we become aware of Guilt, we accept Forgiveness.  In this process we liberate (or develop) our Freedom. There are two additional points to be clarified:

    1) Guilt without Forgiveness is incapacitating.

    2) The word Freedom refers to internal Freedom. This is the ability to choose with a clear perception of options and without emotional conflict. Often this Freedom is confused with Liberty which is an external corollary to Freedom. Liberty is a description of a situation when members of our society, at large, are expected to unconditionally accept a person’s behavior—sometimes even either beneficial or detrimental—based on choices that he or she makes. In the previous chapter I referred to A. S. Neill’s name “License” in reference to some of his students’ difficulties taking responsibility for their behavior and expecting acceptance from others. This is a more precise framing of the situation. The use of the word Liberty by political philosophers, including our Founding Fathers, for instance (Locke’s Two Treatises on Government and Letters Concerning Toleration were particularly popular with them.), has deeper, thoughtful, moral implications to it. Patrick Henry’s “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” certainly has an expectation of ethical behavior. (Although the British probably didn’t think so!) The Statue of Liberty is not welcoming anti-social behavior to our shores with her torch.

Guilt and Forgiveness are best known for their use as ethical or religious and theological concepts.  McAfee and other writers have noted how many psychologists and therapists (as well as ministers and religious leaders) deal with these concepts with suspicion or at least reservation. Often they ignore or devalue the impact of Guilt on a person. F. S. Perls, one of the founders of Gestalt Therapy, presents a perspective that begins to bring out some of the complexity involved in the process of becoming aware of Guilt:

We see guilt as projected resentment. Whenever you feel guilty, find out what you resent, and guilt will vanish and you will try to make the other person feel guilty. Anything unexpressed which wants to be expressed can make you feel uncomfortable. And one of the most common unexpressed experiences is the resentment. This is the unfinished business par excellence. If you are resentful, you’re stuck; you neither can move forward and have it out, express your anger, change the world so you will get satisfaction, nor can you let go and forget what disturbs you. Resentment is the psychological equivalent of the hanging-on bite—the tight jaw. The hanging-on bite can neither let go, nor bite through and chew up —whichever is required. In resentment you can neither forget, and let this incident or person recede in the background, nor can you actively tackle it. The expression of resentment is one of the most important ways to help you make your life a little bit more easy. I want you to do the following collective experiment: 

            I want each one of you to do this. First you evoke a person like father or husband, call the person by namewhoever this isand just say briefly, “Clara, I resent-” Try to get the person to hear you, as if there was really communication and you felt this.  So try to speak to growth. Behind every resentment there are demands. So now I want all of you to talk directly to the same person as before, and express the demands behind the resentment. The demand is the only real form of communication. Get your demands into the open. Do this also as self expression: formulate your demands in the form of an imperative, a command. I guess you know enough of English grammar to know what an imperative is. The imperative is like, “Shut up!”  “Go to hell!” “Do this!”...

            Now go back to the resentments you express toward the person. Remember exactly what you resented. Scratch out the word resent and say appreciate. Appreciate what you resented before. Then go and tell the person what else you appreciate in them. Again try to get the feeling that you actually communicate with them...

Gestalt Therapy Verbatim (171:48-49)      


Guilt has a simple explanation for Perls: projected resentment. Resentment itself is more complicated. Resentment is a situation that we feel is unfinished. Consequently, we continue the situation, not always consciously or within our control. (Perls, who emphasizes “Here and Now” communication would undoubtedly not agree with the evaluation of an idea that we are not conscious of or being beyond our immediate control.) While I believe that we may agree that resentment and Guilt are often found together, it seems that Perls has reversed the generalization. He is guilty of subsuming Guilt under resentment, but resentment is one of a special case of behaviors that lead to Guilt. Still, this is a more profound explanation of Guilt than many others employ as well as an action oriented technique for developing this experience therapeutically. While McAfee understands guilt as “the hope word”, Perls’s gestalt shift begins with guilt, shifts this to resentment which is the result of an unanswered demand, but ends having group participants appreciate the action or person who is the source of the original emotion or feeling. This is an optimistically flavored (Note Perls’s oral emphasis.) experience, similar in tone to McAfee’s expression of guilt as “the hope word”.

           McAfee occasionally cites for criticism a position toward guilt that he has heard from psychologists and theologians alike. This is basically: “Live in the present. The past has happened and there is nothing that can be done about it. Continuing to feel guilty for something that cannot be changed is just hurting yourself to no avail.” This statement describes an understanding of Forgiveness exemplified in the so-called folk wisdom: “Forgive and forget.” The problem with this position toward Guilt is that it refers us back to our state of Compulsion for which we are excusable. It does not leave us with the dynamic processes on which Freedom, with its ingredients of personal responsibility and personhood, is built. It does not challenge us toward an improved future. There are, however, therapists who see Guilt as a central issue in psychotherapy. Andras Angyal, who has developed a holistic approach to the treatment of neurosis, writes about the importance of recognizing guilt as a focus in therapy:

Many therapists regard guilt as an entirely negative feature, i. e., as neurotic symptoms to be removed or relieved. This, I believe to be a mistake responsible for many of our failures; assuaging guilt does not resolve it.

            One should certainly try to remove those guilt feelings that originate in an assumption of responsibility for events over which the person has no control. Consider, for instance, the patient whose mother died in childbirth and who harbors guilt feelings about it: “I came into the world through the death of another.” Such feelings should be analyzed as fantasy productions since no true guilt is involved. However, such simple and straightforward situations are rarely, if ever, found in analytic work.
            The focal problem is real guilt...i.e., the person’s emotional response to having acted against not just some externally imposed standards but against his own genuine loyalties or against people to whom he related not merely with fear but with love.
            To feel guilt about such violations of homonomous bonds is part and parcel of healthy human functioning. If a patient has betrayed his own values, or has caused or intended harm to a loved person, he is not helped in the long run by the therapist saying or implying that it is foolish to feel guilty about it—because that is not true. Although the neurotic puts his guilt to very destructive uses, in essence they are outgrowths of basic strivings of belongingness and autonomy; as such they must be utilized for reconstruction, not summarily discarded. Real guilt has to be faced in a much more meaningful and vital way than by denial or making light of it. Only a confrontation with it can help the neurotic transform his partly irrational guilt feelings into a healthy conscience. Guilt feelings represent the key to effective self-control...
            When manifest guilt feelings are minimal or absent, the therapist’s first task is to bring them to the patient’s awareness by utilizing the indirect implications that both reveal and disguise guilt. Some of the most common disguises are certain brands of fears, symptoms, or behavior patterns that have the function of “undoing” the acts leading to guilt, protestation of perfect goodness and innocence, distortions of reality systematically aimed at minimizing one’s own guilt, or lack of emotional response to instances of obvious factual guilt. On the other hand, conscious guilt feelings may be present and even prominent, but on the surface they rarely refer to actions or attacks that caused the real guilt. This guilt, of which the patient is aware only dimly or not at all, is usually camouflaged by manifest guilt feelings, often exaggerated or irrational.

Neurosis and Treatment: a Holistic Approach (7:233-235)

Angyal sees that a decisive step comes with the realization of responsibilty: take responsibility means to acknowledge, simply and frankly, the part played and is still playing, in all one’s self destructive mode of living. By admitting this to another, the patient discards his false front and moves beyond the confines of anxious secrecy. This is a momentous step forward: he could not have taken is without some confidence that he can live differently in the future.

            There is only one way of dealing with guilt—to regret it. This means sorrow for the harm that was done and the constructive action left undone: for the chances that were never taken, for the adventures missed and perhaps no longer possible, for having shortchanged those who loved or needed one and tried in vain to come close and be helpful. Beyond the regrets it means turning one’s back on the neurotic pattern, with the strong desire to discard it and live in a different way. When the patient begins to react to the destructiveness of his conduct in life with strong feelings of regret, the neurotic structure starts to give.

Neurosis and Treatment; a Holistic Approach (7:239)

Guilt, then, may have a pervasive influence on a person’s life without really being experienced, at first, as Guilt.  By bringing Guilt to consciousness and then working with it therapeutically, a person liberates Freedom.

            In my own work with Crisis Intervention patients (Chp.6), Guilt is often spoken of directly or in the course of the interview. The too common response like “Oh, you shouldn’t feel that way.” or “Just get over that.” is not helpful. Encouraging a discussion of the sources and feelings of responsibility that the patient experiences is the first steps toward resolution or Forgiveness, as it is referred to previously.

            Robert Jay Lifton, in his study Home From the War, elaborates on these points and describes the course of renewal developed by returning Vietnam veterans. He begins with the processes many of these veterans share to help themselves and others to return and re-integrate to American society. In his research observing veterans’ ‘rap groups’ Lifton describes how these returning veterans deal with their war experiences, their perceptions about how others feel about them, and how they feel about themselves as they return home to American society.  

He observes the initial process rap group members come to developing this awareness and action as Animating Guilt:

The American survivor of Vietnam carries within himself the special taint of war. His taint has to do with guilt evoked by death. His most disturbing images are of particular encounters with the dead and dying; his harshest self-judgments emerge from these encounters and concern not only what he did or did not do but his sense of the overall project that he was a part of.

In the rap groups the men frequently talked of their resentment of others viewing them as “monsters,” “beasts,” and “murderers.” But before long they made it clear that these were their own self-judgments as well. A typical sequence was that of one man who describes being unable to take a steady job...largely because of what he perceived to be negative attitudes of prospective employers:

They would think, “There’s a murderer, a monster. I sometimes think that myself.”

            One man in our group told of being spat upon by an anonymous greeter at the airport when he returned, an experience referred to so often as to become a kind of mythic representation of the feeling shared by the American people and the veterans themselves: an image of Vietnam as a war of grunts immersed in filth (rather than one of noble warriors on the path to glory) who return in filth to American society. 

            In all this the veterans struggle toward a new relationship to their guilt. They sought from the very guilt that seemed to hold them in static ‘deadness’ an energy for ‘coming to life.’ Indeed their entire relationship to their antiwar organization was bound up with this quest. There were two important images involved. The first had to do with their transgressions, their having caused (in Buber’s phrase) “a wound in the order of being,” their having ‘killled’ someone or something. The second image was an image of a world beyond transgression itself. That is, to transcend the conditions of the transgression (the atrocity producing situation) one had to open oneself to the larger “order of being” one had injured.

Home From the War (137:99-104)

Unfortunately this study can offer only a hint of the deep pathos that these veterans experienced both in Vietnam and on their return to our society. The experiences of the veterans show us, however, the complexity of the process and dynamics of accepting Guilt and Forgiveness, an experience so often taken to be a single, simple act. They had to come to grips with some of the most monumental feelings imaginable. Because the members of the Group understood one anothers’ experience, they were able support the emergence of these very difficult feelings. The process began with the sharing of experiences of anger, rage, and potential violence. This was not focused only toward an enemy but towards themselves, fellow soldiers, their commanders, and their own society. But with this rage there was also an overwhelming sense of unreality about the entire situation. Vietnam and the army is described as a “Counterfit Universe” (137:161). This is a not uncommon means of surviving an unliveable situation in which personal sensitivities are buried and protected by devaluing the environment.  6 

            Not only was guilt related to physical violence but also social violence. The nature of war makes it necessary to identify the enemy. This leads to classifying humans as enemy or friend or in the case of soldiers in Vietnam as “Gooks” and “Men”.  7

            At this point we have only begun the process of recognition of Guilt, the first step toward Forgiveness. Lifton outlines three transformations by which the men come to grips with their experiences. First the image of the warrior had to be redefined. Lifton was working primarily with veteran antiwar Groups. The mythic hero that these men chose to represent this transformation was from John Wayne, the hero image that the typical American G. I. was supposed to emulate, the TV and movie hero most people of this generation grew up with, transformed to Country Joe and the Fish. The latter was a Berkeley acid-rock and protest band who were known for their song I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag, the tone of which is given in the song refrain:

(To a bright ragtime melody)...

And it’s 1, 2, 3, what are we fighting for?

Don’t ask me, I don’t give a Damn,

Next stop is Vietnam.

And it’s 5, 6, 7, open up the Pearly Gates.

Well there ain’t no time to wonder why.

Whoopee! We’re all gonna to die!

This tone is reinforced by verses exhorting: “Come on mothers throughout the land, Pack your boys off to Vietnam, Come on pops don’t hesitate, Send them off before it’s too late, Be the first one on your block to have your boy come home in a box!” (A rousing performance of this ’60s classic—for many more people than Veterans—can be viewed in the movie Woodstock.) 

            As identified in other parts of this study, we have here the therapeutic combination of sometimes brutal reality, deep irony, personal responsibility, and dark humor.

The second transformation was learning to feel:

Overcoming psychic numbing meant transforming a ‘dead self’ into one infused with life. Until they can begin to do that they find themselves in that survivor state of death in life that is not quite the one or the other.

Home From the War (137:279)

One veteran reports about the initial stages of the return of his feelings:

The first session when I went down there, I almost couldn’t drive back to New Jersey. Every song that came on the radio, you know, now I feel it...If I hear...about something beautiful (I) get so sensitized that I can’t even function.

He was describing the lifting of psychic numbing the uneven process around loss, death, and the possibility of a joyous life. This formulative struggle of the survivor in this case a struggle for feeling related to form has many parallels with what Freud called the “work of mourning.” But it is more generalized process of resymbolization, involving the entire psyche and the inner images and forms built up (and broken down) over a lifetime.

Home From the War (137:278)

But this process first required that the men release their rage, often held in tight control in order for them to function in society. Because the Group members effectively understood this rage in one another, the Group was able to help. The members also understood the potential each man had for tender feelings and this became important as feelings were allowed, even encouraged, to return. 

            The third transformation is the development of a new inward experience and outward expression of life. The veterans found new meaning in relation between self, society, and the world. It is here that Lifton finds the experience of veterans speaks directly to all of us. We all need to understand what the veteran has discovered. 

To be sure, Americans (and others throughout the world) are surviving much more than Vietnam. Our unprecedented historical velocity and our holocausts (actual and potential) merge into a confusing ethos, with Vietnam at the malignant cutting edge. Lukacs’ claim that America is reading the signs of “its earthquake in a similar spirit” is perhaps rephrased by the question: Can a significant number of Americans muster enough survivor wisdom to create the kind of forms that would be ethically adequate to the filth of the holocaustand psychohistorically adequate to the unprecedented needs of our social moment? That is, can we respond to the constructive model transformation suggested by certain veterans, whatever its imperfections and fragility? 

 Home From the War (137:305-306)

Once the issues of Guilt are made conscious, work toward Forgiveness has only begun. Although Lifton does not use this word, the therapeutic process that he outlines is an excellent description of psychological healing toward Forgiveness. Lifton summarizes this third transformation into three stages:

1. Confrontation.    

2. Reordering. 

3. Renewal.

Confrontation consists of a sudden or sustained questioning of personal integration and integrity brought about by some form of death encounter. Whether or not actual physical dying is involved, the encounter includes an indelible image of personal threat. But accompanying that threat is an opening toward greater awareness of the non-viability (falseness, inadequacy, deadness) of previously unquestioned inner forms (values, assumptions, symbols), and the possibility (however dimly perceived) of alternatives. The image representing this is indelible (though often ineffable) because it suggests the idea of death or nothingness in a newly powerful fashion. It does this by bringing together, at least for the moment, adult knowledge (or perhaps “middle knowledge”) of actual death with reactivated early images of disintegration (or annihilation), separation, and stasis. In this way the idea is newly connected with primal images on which it is built—hence the sense both of newness and the “shock of recognition.”

Home From the War (137:387-388)


At this stage the experience may seem both disorienting but familiar. There seems to be a demand for taking responsibility and, therefore recognizing personal guilt.


To confront this kind of threat to integrity is to experience guilt, and to confront the guilt in turn is to initiate the second stage, that of reordering. Reordering involves alteration and recreation of every aspect of self-process, but it revolves around the struggle to achieve an animating relationship to guilt.

Home From the War (137:390)

Throughout the reordering process there is a struggle to confront guilt and reclaim (or establish for the first time) a sense of integrity. Reordering can include the softening we spoke of earlier, the breaking of some of the character armor, the long-standing defenses, and maneuver around numbed guilt, in order to release feelings appropriate to conflicts around integrity. For the person undergoing this process is struggling to bear witness to the upheaval (death encounter) he has experienced, and to do so with autonomy and authenticity. 

Home From the War (137:392)

Finally, the process of renewal includes regaining the ability to play. The return of this experience magnifies the healing process, as was pointed out in the close of the previous chapter, and has special interest for us in the next chapter.

We can speak of renewal (italics added) of the self”s attainment of form (structure) and style (process) in relationship to its integrity. Form itself is fluid, which is why structure and process cannot be separated; through both, the individual develops an inner sense, persisting through continuous change, that his new integrity is a part of him. 

            This does not mean that guilt disappears. On the contrary, the process of converting static to animating guilt is continuous and continuously important. But as an animating relationship to guilt comes to predominate, it is increasingly accompanied by play. Piaget has said that a child, in order to understand anything, must construct it himself or “re-invent it” through play. And Erikson, in a recent study of the full gamut of play, concludes that play is so widespread and fundamental a human phenomenon as to be grasp only by the word “aliveness.”    8

            From early in life play is at the center of the formative process, the means by which the self, in a state of freedom, re-creates its images and forms. That freedom to create and explore—to subvert, mock, or reinforce old forms and initiate new ones—is a psychic key to play, though play is never without a structure and set of rules of its own. And play always envisions a state of unity encompassing inner and outer worlds.

Home From the War (137:401-402) 

Play’s unique ability to relate our present to our entire developmental process leads to renewal.

Indeed only play, in its broadest meaning, can approach the ecstacy or experiiential transcendence necessary to affirm a mode of immortality or bring about a shift in modes.

            Play is also the great unifier of the life cycle—its formative-symbolizing function enabling the child to build adult forms, and the adult to retain the child within.

Home From the War (137:402) 

As part of Forgiveness this is a continuous process and can be effectively approached in this way:

In emphasizing play, I am suggesting that renewal is at no point simply accomplished.  Rather, it is a process that, once established, can combine enduring forms with perpetual re-creation based upon an evermore accessible ideal of integrity.  The process can extend into diverse areas of work, human relationships, contests or competition, and teaching and learning—all of these increasingly infused with combinations of animating guilt, playfulness, and responsibility.

Home From the War (137:405-406)..

We have looked at the views of three clinicians regarding Guilt as a focus in therapy. Perls, Angyal, and Lifton all find that therapeutic awareness of experiences of Guilt leads to deeper processes of healing. Although their views differ somewhat, I would like to refer to these perspectives as an introduction to Wallace McAfee’s approach to therapy and the organizing function of bringing Guilt to awareness as a process of transformation in the Group. I would emphasize the ways that Guilt and Forgiveness (capitalization emphasizing the central importance of these processes) are central to the therapeutic process in his Groups. Following on the consciousness of Guilt, Forgiveness is the process of individual and Group transformation. Although the three previously discussed therapists have not specifically used the word Forgiveness, their healing processes may be taken as examples. 

           It is relatively easy to understand the necessity of dealing with Guilt in the case material and theories of Perls, Angyal, and Lifton. The special methods for resolving resentment, neurosis, and the experiences of war, while offering valuable insight into the nature of the process of Forgiveness are, however, easy to isolate from our day-to-day lives. This process may be a form of what psychoanalysis calls repression. We can too easily ignore Guilt in our more common experience. By extending this process to our everyday lives, we can achieve a greatly enhanced sense of living. It is at this point that I turn to Wallace McAfee’s views.

            The following is a transcript of a taped discussion that I had with Dr. McAfee in late 1976. I asked him to give a general description of his therapeutic philosophy that I could include as part of my dissertation. This was to be representative of part of the therapy, training, and supervision that I had with him.

C. Guilt and Forgiveness in Everyday Life.

We begin Wallace McAfee’s exposition with a central paradox: the problem of Guilt, Forgiveness, and the development of Freedom.

                 “Why should I be Forgiven? I should be Forgiven because I have the brain and with the brain I can choose. You can then assume that I will choose wrong against some of my social values. Well, here’s the paradox: You put me in a situation where I’ll choose wrong, then I’ve gone against my standard.
           “If you do wrong and accept Forgiveness you have more Freedom. You’re not going to be beaten for it, but you see things in a different perspective and accept Forgiveness.
           “We feel Guilty when we have the Freedom to act according to high principles, and we choose the less social action. We, in some way, harm another person or don’t do right by them.
           “When we go out into this world, with its complexity of living, we hardly expect that we will always choose correctly, but then we say we’re Guilty when we don’t. There is the principle: ‘Be thee therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ But then we can’t really expect that we do the appropriate thing every time.”

McAfee stresses the problem of the Pharisee.

               “The danger is, as we work toward becoming better counselors, that has the seeds of becoming a Pharisee. In becoming better at what we do, we are in danger of becoming a Pharisee.”

McAfee likes the metaphor of “traveling”. The early Christians spoke of  “Traveling in the Way”.

             “Robert Louis Stevenson spoke of this in Travels Through France With a Donkey. He said that it is better to travel than to arrive. I think that he meant that he had a series of arrivals,
           “Our metaphor is one of making movement. We should say that ‘I am being saved.’ or ‘I ambeing Forgiven.’ rather than ‘I am saved.’ or ‘I am Forgiven.’
           “Forgiveness is offered but it must be accepted.”

I asked about specific action. I purposely used a trivial example: littering.

            “The paper on the sidewalk showed a little bit of an anti-social attitude. Then the Forgiveness should be accepted for the anti-social attitude not just the single piece of paper. At first you may not have realized that that act is a symptom of a deeper attitude.
           “Then Forgiveness is admitting the present problem and, as you make restitution, you are being Forgiven for that action—and probably other related actions that come from the anti-social attitude such as driving carelessly.
           “As you come face to face where you are Guilty and begin to accept Forgiveness, your Freedom grows more and more.
           “Freedom is being able to face the issue of choices and being able to take the choice that is appropriate with a social value system. Anyone can choose between two choices, but Freedom is the ability to choose in relation to a social value system.   
           “Then Freedom also includes the ability to see the deeper issues involved.
           “Freedom, then, is a choice in line with our ultimate social values. We hypothesize what these ultimate values are and choose according to them.
           “Part of this hypothesis is that we must take all the circumstances into account. This is George Herbert Mead’s phrase: ‘Take all the circumstances into account before making a decision.’
           “Then Freedom is based on ultimate social values. And here’s the paradox: If we are going to take all the circumstances into account before I choose and choose according to ultimate social values, then can we call that Freedom? It seems that I couldn’t have chosen any other way than I did, given the circumstances. I am free, but yet I am bound by the value system.”

McAfee may have sensed that I was teasing or expressing a sceptical view with my littering comment and responded in kind by personalizing his evaluation as “a bit of an anti-social attitude”. Touche!
           He names the “ultimate social values” that he refers to Principles of Bio-Social Evolution.

             “I have a part in advancing Bio-Social Evolution. Now, how do I do that? Now this is something that I am hipped on! First, it is important that I have the brain. (Wallace gestured a good deal to emphasize his points. When he spoke of the brain or the enquiring mind he gathered his fingers and thumb and touched his forehead.) And I should keep the inquiring brain. If ever I get to the point where I think that I have all the answers, then I am in danger of the Pharisee. Does it refer to the inquiring, testing brain? Try things out. Develop a hypothesis. Test it. And then do we often use that? How many people give this up by using alcohol and drugs that dull our reason? Is that the source of Bio-Social Evolution: the use of the brain?”

There is interplay between rigidity and flexibility. McAfee likes to illustrate this with the symbol of the airplane; for a plane to fly successfully there must be an optimal rigidity and an optimal flexibility.

             “Isn’t that a hard thing about life. We concentrate on the rigidity and lose the flexibility for new action when necessary or become so flexible that we throw out all the rules.
           “Now the Pharisees had a lot of good things. They were experts on the Torah, but they wouldn’t take in people like Peter, James, and John because they weren’t educated.
           “We need a figure of speech of continually reexamining our basic assumptions. Well, how are we to act unless we do have basic assumptions? We don’t say: ‘No, I haven’t looked into this so I don’t have anything to act on.’ If we’re always testing our basic assumptions, we hardly have time to act. Do you see a difficulty there all the time?
           “Does the movement or traveling metaphor help here? Today you find out a certain act was in conflict with your basic assumptions, and tomorrow you find another act is. In this way we become more clear about our basic assumptions. In the movement you become aware of your basic assumptions.”

How to change assumptions:

             “We speak of having these principles. Can we call these principles ‘God’? And then Jesus was spoken of as making these principles: ‘God’ manifest. This is the meaning of Christ. Each of us, then, can make these principles manifest in real life and each of us can become Christ. We’ve talked about concentrating these principles in this way.   
           “Love and creativity are abstract concepts. They only take on meaning as they are applied in life. I should exhibit love towards others in life and creativity and firmness and the rest.   
           “Should we have this idea expressed as a package? ‘To be essentially human.’ That’s the phrase Tillich used for Christ: The Christ is essentially human in all interpersonal relationships, not an abstract, off in the sky idea, but right here in everyday life.
           “Should we develop that ideal so that we have a value system on which to act? And develop an image of what a person would be like. Jesus, himself, said that you shall do even greater works. He did come up to his ideal and did a great number of good works. He may have done some bad things that weren’t reported. There are some things he is reported as doing and saying that I don’t think happened. I think that he was a very down-to-earth and joyous individual.
           “Is it better to take poetic metaphor literally than not at all? But then you don’t have poetry. You have magic.  
           “To think: ‘God loved us so that he gave his only Son.’ If we could believe that, wouldn’t that have a tremendous effect on our lives?  
           “I think that I’ve indicated that he did not die for our sins but because of them.  
           “I mean that if you could believe that, wouldn’t that be very captivating that he died for you: Ted Whiteneck. Does that change your life for the good? Do people who can take that literally not seem to trouble over the things we trouble in?   
           “Is it representative of all of us to some degree? When you take the statement: ‘No man has seen God at any time; only his Son can reveal him.’ I don’t think this means his flesh and blood. I take it to mean his value system. I mean these ultimate values we spoke of.  
           “Then in this way Jesus reveals God’s values and concretizes it for us.   
           “I picture Jesus as being very joyful. When you get this point of view, won’t it give us a great deal of vitality and joy in life?
           “And I don’t think he got his wisdom out of the air. This is an interpretation later. I think he led a small group, the twelve disciples, and he benefited from it too. I think when you feel this joy you want to share it. It has mutuality. I tell you and you tell me. Dialogue is a very important part of it.
           “Then group dynamics are very important here. It may be that Jesus had the twelve disciples to help him, and he helped them. This is the function of the Group.”   9

McAfee describes how the feedback or influence of other Group members helps promote healthy change for individuals:

             “We say, in principle: This is the appropriate or inappropriate thing to do. We say: ‘You are wrong in letting yourself become depressed or anxious.’ We are guilty for becoming depressed and we try to work a way out of depression by going out to others. This helps depression. Group says: ‘You are wrong in allowing yourself to become depressed, but our esteem for you has not decreased.’ ”

Depression often includes a sense of blame directed toward the environment. This may be life circumstances or other people. McAfee points out that we increase out Freedom by taking responsibility for improvement of our own well-being. When we are able to see our own part in bringing about and/or maintaining this emotional state, we can then assign and accept an appropriate amount of Guilt and work toward Forgiveness. By using techniques in the Group, such as Psychodrama, deep relaxation, or a controlled rage, a person changes their perception and subsequently their emotions and behavior.

             “Another case is when a person says: ‘So and so made me angry.’ Well, this is letting that other person have power over your emotions. That’s why we say: ‘I let so and so make me angry.’ He might have been a lowdown stinker and very mean, but that anger just hurts ourselves. We are working toward transmuting this anger to another constructive emotion rather than give in to these destructive impulses. We still want the energy, not just to allow ourselves to become dull and passive. I use the word ‘transmute’ rather than change or transform, because it involves a more essential shift in the emotional reaction.”  10
            “Our goal is not to just grit our teeth and bare the hardship but to face how really hard it is and learn to rejoice and be glad for great is our inner reward. I take the words: ‘…rewards in the kingdom of heaven’ to mean our inner reward, not some place you go after death. But even inner reward is too passive. Maybe it should be: ‘reward in the Circle of Caring.’   
            “The things we are talking about are not just the common things like stealing a piece of fruit or lying, but we’re talking about the deeper, more subtle things.
            “As I extend Forgiveness to another, I form a chain with them that extends to people of good will beyond and forms a Community of Caring throughout society. ‘Forgive us our debts as we Forgive our debtors.’ Then I stand here and receive Forgiveness as I extend it in reciprocal relationship.”

In the simplest explanation of Group process, like the gestalt law: the whole is greater (or of different quality) than the sum of the parts, we may say that several heads are better than one; at least there are multiple perspectives and sources for direction. We come together and share our life situations. Each person’s situation, to a degree, becomes a situation for all members of the Group. Suggestions and experiences are shared. We have not only our individual experience and knowledge to draw on but also all of our combined experiences.
           Another level of the process, then, comes into play. As each of us share our selves with other Group members, becoming better known, we find that these other Group members may have views of us that we do not have of ourselves. Other members may see areas of our lives that we are blind to. They may see how we are misusing or not fully developing our potential; we are acting in Compulsion, not truly exercising our Freedom. As this knowledge is communicated to us, we become aware of areas of Guilt. We have avoided or misused the Freedom that we could have developed. Sometimes this Group reflection is experienced as criticism, but it is based on a clearer view of our potentials. This is another paradox: what we experience as a critical view is actually a compliment. Our sense of Guilt only comes about because we have so much potential Freedom.
           Finally, an important process that is poorly researched, even in psychotherapy effectiveness studies, I am going to name “The Mirror of Empathy” or “Reciprocal Empathy”. It seems that intuitively we can recognize that providing Empathy and helping another person problem solve and grow individually, helps the helper. As I receive Empathy and Concern from others, my thoughts become clearer and my emotions energize me to improve my life circumstances and life-style ; my improved perspective helps me communicate these qualities to others—an epigenic prosess develops. (Remember Allen in Chapter 2: As he recounted his successes to others, it strengthened the new behavior: responsibility and positive self concept, helping the other residents consider their own.)
           The Group actualizes a growth process. How can we, members of the Group, help each other to see our potential, evaluate our behavior, experiencing Guilt where appropriate, not caught up in Compulsion but accepting Forgiveness and thereby developing Freedom, look toward life with new resolution, joy, and vitality?
            We are called on to act. Our ideal is to act with fullest knowledge: “Take all factors into account.” But we don’t have full knowledge and often our action is more critical than we realize. Paul Tillich writes:

Practice resists theory, which it considers inferior to itself; it demands an activism which cuts off every theoretical investigation before it has come to its end. In practice one cannot do other wise, for one must act before one has finished thinking. On the other hand, the infinite horizons of thinking cannot supply the basis for any concrete decision with certainty. Except in the technical realm where an existential decision is not involved, one must make decisions on the basis of limited or distorted or incomplete insights. Neither theory nor practice in isolation can solve the problem of their conflict with each other. Only a truth which is present in spite of the infinity of theoretical possibilities and only a good which is present in spite of the infinite risk implied in every action can overcome the disruption between the grasping and the shaping functions of reason. The quest for such a truth and such a good is the quest for revelation.  

Systematic Theology, Vol. I, (219:93):  

Our “quest for revelation” is Group insight leading to our work toward Forgiveness. The Group becomes the mediator of Forgiveness, representing The Good Society, understanding that there are ultimate values that we are developing. We do not know these fully, but we are working from hypotheses. We value individuals, even if they sometimes fail, realizing that to understand and correct failure is a practice of Forgiveness that helps us understand these ultimate values. In this way we begin a process that turns failure into success. Although failure can be immediately painful, it gives information about new directions. Each of us must act on our best hypothesis. Evaluation of the results helps us grow. Being accepted and valued, even during a failed attempted hypothetical action, strengthens our sense of self—we will attempt more creative interactions, stretching ourselves—risking new aspirations. Feedback both helps us evaluate and ground new actions; it also inspires. The understanding of others feelings and situations, along with the sense of acceptance, may be recognized as curative factors of Empathy and Unconditional Regard discussed in the previous chapter. Often there is a wide gulf between theory and practice, Group and life. One particularly powerful method of bridging this gulf is to bring life situations into the Group: enact them or re-enact them. We can investigate and experiment with them, relive situations from the past, and practice improved responses for the future—with a sense of play, fun, humor and Catharsis. This takes us to the next chapter Psychodrama.

NOTES      Chapter Three

1  I have maintained the present tense as in the original for the rest of this section of Chapter 3. This is consistent with the time that this study was initially written as Group was meeting with the McAfees as leaders. Even after Wallace’s death, Group members met with Edna until her death. Many members continue to keep in contact with one another.

2  In an interesting conversation with Malcolm, Wallace and Edna’s son, he commented that Edna had studied group counseling quite extensively, and was an expert in this field herself. He gave me one of her text books for a group counseling course: George Bach‘s Intensive Group Therapy. Thanks, Edna for your (usually) gentle, reality oriented confrontations and coffee, tea, and the strawberry shortcake at the close of Group!

3  Wallace McAfee and I, as did many other members of Group, have had numerous discussions about these principles. He is very clear and consistent that too common an approach toward the expression of anger may be summerized in comments such as: “Well, of course there are times when you should be angry.” or “He made me angry.” Dr. McAfee sees these statements as examples of an individual giving up personal Freedom to that other antagonist. A statement that would better recognize these dynamics would be: “I let myself become angry at that person or situation.” He certainly does not deny that there are people who provoke a response with aggressive or hostile statements or actions. There are also truly dangerous situations, but he sees anger and related emotional responses, as clouding rational judgment. He would say that it is at this time that we need our full, clear brain and mind. When I asked him about the harm involved in dealing with an individual who was mistreating or abusing another person, he makes the point that that person, who is the object of another’s anger or violence, should protect themselves. If they cannot leave the incident or the situation, anger only compounds the problem. He seems to include a sense of compulsion in the experience of anger—trapped by this violent emotion—and makes an important point: keep a clear mind and communicate appropriately. A ‘Second Round’ response, explained in the next chapter about Psychodrama, may be practiced. The goal is to defuse the violence in the aggressor’s emotions. Dr. McAfee has many clinical vignettes about how children dealing with abusive parents have been able to calm potentially violent situations. He has practiced Clinical Psychology since a time when Child Protective Services and women’s shelters were less common, and physical abuse was more accepted as the norm. There were no reporting laws for clinicians (And legal authorities responded with as little interest.). Often his practice includes whole families and would more recently be termed Family Therapy. Abused women and children had fewer options to secure safety. Although some progress has been made, these issues continue to be poorly addressed by our society. Some of his current favorite therapists that he studies and attends workshops with include Milton Erickson (89, 91) and Carl Whitaker (240). Other influences that he speaks of include Paul Tillich and Sociologist Ernest Burgess, both of whom he studied with at The University of Chicago. He also took a course from Carl Rogers who he felt was too authoritarian. He had a disagreement with him about Kierkegaard. So much for ‘nondirection’! (Personal Communication)

            Wallace also made a point that many of the terms in The Bible were poetic language for the time that it was recorded. For example “kingdom of God” is now anachronistic as we now (at least in the U.S.) live in a democratic republic—we fought to liberate ourselves from a king!

4   Freedom and Free Will are subject to a good deal of heavy debate in philosophy, religion, and psychology. The way that these ideas are used as organizing principles for Group and counseling and psychotherapy by Wallace McAfee is a streamlined presentation in a somewhat pragmatic vein. Wallace explained to me that reading complex theories and philosophy was important but could side track issues in therapy that needed to be presented to many people that were not interested or experienced in this type of detail. These people need solutions and approaches to problems of more immediacy. After saying this, Wallace gave me a copy of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Gifford Lectures and also Teilhard de Cardin’s Phenomenon of Man which came in very handy as I was teaching biology, as well as chemistry, in a Catholic high school at that time. This Jesuit paleontologist’s writings really impressed the nuns, some of whom also taught science courses. The underlying philosophy to Wallaces’s approach to Freedom seems to me to be similar to the summary presentation of Kant’s ethics by Karl Jaspers in his The Great Philosophers series (112:73-78). William James also weighs in with his demonstration of how complex discussion of these topics can become in Chapter 26: “Will”, The Principles of Psychology (104:Ch. XXVI) in sections entitled The Question of ‘Free Will’ and Education of the Will. Cf. also Dobzhansky: The Biological Basis of Human Freedom. Gordon Allport also provides an extended discussion relating human individuality to the ability to choose thoughtfully. Pattern and Growth in Personality (4:Ch.1). Jean-Paul Sartre radically pronounces: “What we call freedom is impossible to distinguish from the being of ‘human reality.’ Man does not exist first in order to be free subsequently there is no difference between the being of man and his being-free “ (204:25 continued in Part IV). Discussion of Sartre‘s philosophical perspective continues in the next chapter. Martin Buber also writes of issues Wallace describes as “Compulsion” and “Freedom” in his poetic philosophy I and Thou: “...freedom and fate embrace each other to form meaning; and given meaning, fate—with its eyes, hitherto severe, suddenly full of light—looks like grace itself” (23:102).

5  Yes! Newton’s First Law defining “Inertia”. Developmental psychologists and ethologists including Piaget (173, 174, 175, 176, 177), James (104, 105), Lorenz (140, 141), Goodall (82), and Darwin (47), have studied the place of habit, its necessity and value, as well as its limitations for the development of human intelligence and choice. Behaviors that we often call ‘higher’ are sometimes complex combinations of habits. They can be labled as ‘drives’ or complex ‘schemata’ all of which develop from ‘instincts’ in ‘lower’ animals. As behavior develops in complexity, beneficial character traits develop synergistically but also problem behaviors that we might describe metaphorically as ‘knots’ or ‘eddies’ or misapplications. Konrad Lorenz shows how these may lead to conflict or mental illness in his studies: On Aggression (141). Our use of terms ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ is an intuitive nod to recognizing that we humans may have a special quality to our behavior that we like to call ‘choice’. Experience with animals suggests that they too make choices at times, although they do not articulate these, at least in a language that most of us understand. Once again reference Lorenz, Goodall, and Darwin. Julian Huxley discusses our evaluation of organisms as ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ [Evolution: the New Synthesis (103: 556-565)]. In a similar vein, Gregory Bateson studies the behavior of young animals, including humans, particularly how they signal to one another that they are engaged in play while posturing as if ready to fight. This is important for development of behavior promoting survival as well as discrimination of the meaning of others’ behavior. While an individual’s understanding leads to experiences that we may describe as learning—and even ‘fun’—misunderstanding can result in violence or the confusion of mental illness [Steps to an Ecology of Mind “Theory of Play and Fantasy” (13)]. These illustrations may be heavily biased toward male posturing. Both Jane Goodall (82) and Carol Gilligan (81) discuss differences in male and female social development. In a recently published study that is both charming and profound: The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved From Our Primative Ancestors to Modern Humans (85), developmental expert and child psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan and philosopher-psychologist Stuart Shanker present evidence and argument showing the interplay of emotion and cognitive processes as the source of our cultural, psychological, and even physiological complex development, these leading to our ideation and subsequently language. They relate a panorama of developmental processes, from genetic expression controlled by hormonal regulators, to physiological expression manifested as emotion promoting cognitive development, this series even affecting evolutionary change. We can observe these processes all taking place in as simple an interaction as a baby’s response to a parent’s response to the baby.

           Earlier and similar approaches include Arnold Modell (Object Love and Reality: An Introduction to a Psychoanalytic Theory of Object Relations), who has done a comprehensive study of the development of consciousness referencing anthropological-paleontological studies of the paleolithic cave art in France, as well as developmental psychological studies of Piaget and Erik Erikson, and ethological studies of animal behavior. His is a psychoanalytic approach to perspectives also studying the development of the mind, similar to philosophical works of Ernst Cassirer (Essay on Man and Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. Vol.1-4.) and Suzanne K. Langer ( Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art and Mind: an Essay on Human Feeling. Vol. 1-3).

6   Rollo May (146) and Viktor Frankl (66) have both written of the protective advantages and potential problems of states of desensitization brought about by traumatic, even unliveable situations, the latter clinician through first hand experiences of Nazi concentration camps..

         “I, I, I, I’ve become....... comfortably numb.”---from The Wall by Pink Floyd.
         Since the initial writing, the American Psychiatric Association has recognized the chronic problems associated with these states with its diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (DMS IV). Footnote 14, Chapter 6 gives a few references to PTSD research done since Lifton’s groundbreaking work.

7    The guilt of soldiers leaves them to feel that they alone have committed this social violence. Cf. Sam Keen Faces of the Enemy (118) to see examples of how we all are subjected to and participate in the reframing of our images of other humans during times of war.

8     Erikson has recently published these lectures as Toys and Reasons (61). He shows how play has implications for and influences on ontogenic development and relationships based on interpersonal, community, national, and even international communications.

         Remy Kwant writes: “...Through play the body and the world acquire for man a meaning which they do not have outside the sphere of play. One who does not at all, or only barely, knows how to play is blind to an entire dimension of reality. A child which has no opportunity to play often fails to grow up to fully mature adulthood. The non-playing man—if there is such a being—simply does not understand the field of existence, the world of the playing man...Let us add that man often plays with words, but it is also difficult to say of what this playing with words consists” Phenomenology of Expression (123:51). Remy has never heard of puns, or double entendre, or poetry? Come on now! His entire Chapter Four is “Expression and Playfullness”. Although insightful, it seems to have little fun or humor. Possibly he makes up for this in the next chapter with a footnote regarding an idea of Merleau-Ponty (123:102): “Le visible et l’invisible, pp. 185-187...Merleau-Ponty says that it is a typical Western phenomenon to make a problem of our knowledge of other human beings.” I take this to be tongue-in-cheek. Many of the various writings about humor or play seem somewhat devoid of either. At least Freud included jokes and wordplay in Jokes and Their Relationship to the Unconscious. Freud liked spoonerisms, one-of-which I recently came across in a book about the treatment of dyslexia: The host of a tribute luncheon for a local politician greets the honored guest: “Greetings Senator! Welcome to your recession!” While Freud might refer to this as a manifesting of an unconscious conflict, Dr. Sally Shaywitz (210) identifies this as a symptom of dyslexia for the person doing the greeting. Allen Watts, in a radio that I happened on recently, describes Chuang Tzu as one of the few major ancient philosophers that openly attempts to be funny. An example of the therapeutic power of humor are in transcripts of interviews with Milton Erickson, a favorite of McAfee’s. These often exemplify a fairly in-your-face hypnotic playfulness—and deadly seriousness—at times (89, 91)!
         {A volume could be written on ‘peak-a-boo’ as a primal game, teaching consciousness-unconsciousness, identity, self-other relations, consistency of the world, surprise, change, transformation, humor, fun, control of those big things called parents or adults, along with a multitude of other concepts [Did you see (Will you see?) the two iis in experiiential? Boo!]}

9    This interview was transcribed from an oral cassette. As such, the capitalization of titles is not clear and this revision was done many years later. I have attempted to maintain consistency with the titles as they appear in The New English Bible or in the published writings of Paul Tillich to whose ideas Wallace often refers. There may be a slight ambiguity as Wallace describes Jesus as making God’s principles manifest. Tillich has extended discussion which points to Jesus as “...he who brings the new state of things, the New Being.” He also refers to Jesus as the source of revelation. [Systematic Theology. Vol. II (219:97ff.)] Tillich’s summary discussion of various meanings of the word “God”, includes, for instance, ”The Ground of Being” (219:Vol. II [Tillich’s Gifford Lectures:):5-14]. I refer to “revelation” as insight that develops in a Group process. I am aware that this does not always agree with religious oriented discussion, but I necessarily limit my focus to healthful, clinically oriented secular Transformation in the Group in which I am trained and experienced, while recognizing historical sources for some of these approaches from religious Group traditions. In therapy and supervision sessions with Wallace McAfee, we generally discuss personal and social issues in a clinical psychological therapy and counseling framework. Although often a background, religion comes up as a topic of discussion only occasionally, usually introduced by my discussions of my personal and emotional issues with it. As I was raised in a Methodist and later Presbyterian tradition, both Wallace and I talk about the effects of these religions on my development, which, of course, includes my entire family attitude and traditions—my parents met in the Methodist Church I attended as a young child, and I have several aunts, uncles, and cousins, from both sides of my family, who attended church and Sunday Schools there. Wallace also discusses the roots of his own perspective, both individually and in Group, often expressing views that seem to understand Christian church teachings as having symbolic and/or poetic power for transformation or transmutation. He is critical of religious leaders who have very narrow views with little tolerance for those of other people—often going on with their sermons with liitle interest in the ideas or perspectives of their audience or the wider public. (He often discusses the difference between authority and authoritarianism, illustrating his understanding of Jesus’ “unforgivable sin” as closing one’s mind to new ideas.) There are members of the Group who have Jewish, Roman Catholic, Hindu, Buddhists, Protestant, Christian Science, Pagan, Wikkan, and secular skeptical atheist, humanist, and agnostic approaches to religion. (Sometimes all of these views seem to be held by one person at different, and even, the same time!) Wallace usually challenges them, at least to explain their understanding, and often to develop critical perspective. I think that because he had been a Presbyterian minister, he wants to be open about his background. He also notes that many people are angered by religion, consequently he discusses these issues with them therapeutically. Often Group members express the opinion that he is biased toward Protestant Christianity and overly critical toward the other religions and philosophies. He listens to such criticism, but maintains that Christianity should have self-critical approaches toward magical and literal beliefs that are untrue. Disagreement does not exclude a person from Group. I believe (although I am not sure) that his comments about “a bit of an anti-social attitude” and “Jesus dying for me being very captivating and changing my life for good” were subtle confrontations. From previous discussion, he is aware that I have been skeptical of this outlook—easily angered by missionary or ministerial demands for agreement. (Okay, I allow myself to be angered.) These are issues that I work on in my own therapy and supervision. He has a bit of a tricksterish attitude and a good deal of of humor. One of his clinical vignettes, at least with my supervision, is about his supervision for his Clinical Psychology license in California at USC/L. A. County Med Center—a fairly neo-orthodox psychoanalytic group. He had a discussion with Martin Grotjahn (Beyond Laughter: Humor and the Subconscious). Wallace reported to his supervisor that he feared that he had broken many of the rules of therapeutic communication with a patient. Grotjahn took out a sandwich and took a big bite and lectured Wallace, with his mouth full, shaking his finger, stating “Never break a rule!” With new people or those who have trouble with ambiguity and trust, Wallace is careful to be concrete, which he taught me as supervisor. This interview took place after I had had several years of clinical interaction and Group experience. I am not sure that this is an entirely correct view of Wallace’s approach, but this is the way it seems to me at this time. He discusses difficult emotional issues such as depression, which he considers to have different levels of seriousness. This distinction is not clear from the interview. He refers patients whose mental-emotional conditions are very severe, disabling, or intractable, for psychiatric or neurological consult. He does not exclude psychiatric treatment and appropriate medication from his broad category of accepting Forgiveness. Both he and Edna give various psychological and vocational interest tests at times. Wallace is interested in recent scientific research and at one time had me give him a detailed account of the most recent DNA molecular biology genetic replication systems research that I had studied the previous year in my post graduate studies as a biology and chemistry major. This included giving me a blackboard to illustrate.

        (2017)I believe that he would have been interested in such approaches as single proton emission computed tomography (SPECT) and similar neurological imaging technics that have been developed in the last few years. Cf. Daniel G. Amen: Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness. for a popular presentation of these procedures. Wallace centered his attention on the client or Group member, in my experiences with him as a counselee and supervisee, than is evident from this interview (“Tell us what you think about this topic. Don’t be shy!”); where I elicited perspectives from him which was an unusual relationship for our discussions.
        Joline had an answer to the issue of a name for Group, discussed near the beginning of this chapter. She liked “Fullerton’s Pharisees” (The McAfees’ office-home was in the city of Fullerton.). I take this as an example of the guiding philosophy Joline and I operated by: “Secular Humorism”.

10   Alfred North Whitehead Process and Reality (Gifford Lectures): “It seems as though in practice, for human beings at least, only transmuted feelings acquire consciousness, never simple physical feelings. Consciousness originates in the higher forms of integration and illuminates those with the greater clarity and distinctness” (245:362). “Transmutation is the way in which the actual world is felt as a community, and is so felt in virtue of its prevalent order. For it arises by reason of its analogies between the various members of the prehended nexus, and eliminates their differences. Apart from transmutation, our feeble intellectual operations would fail to penetratate into the dominant characteristics of things. We can only understand by discarding. Transmutation depends upon a categorical condition” (245:383).