Social unconsciousness is a term used by Earl Hopper to describe the effect of living in a world where we are connected by our common histories, culture and social, political and economic environment.
But how does this affect us? With so much taking place in our ever-changing world, this has a place in our experiences in the present such as Brexit as well as in our past. When it then comes to looking at the therapeutic relationship we have, the focus tends to be on our close relationships. Very rarely do we take time to look at our minds and the effects it has on it.
It is clear however, that economics does determine whether we can reach our potential. The daily commentary on Brexit is primarily focused on the damage of fiscal instability on wealth, employment and the ability of the state to provide for those unable to look after themselves. This is turn creates fear and division resulting in anxiety, which, as a community we are suffering from. All this change creates dissonance which we need to learn to tolerate and adapt too. In a pluralistic society, psychological robustness is essential as we need to tolerate living and coping with the differences.
It is often questioned if part of the increased level of mental illness is due to the disturbances in the social matrix? Does it form part of our experience of the social unconsciousness? I personally wonder if social media and its potential to invade our personal space means we are unprotected from the outpourings of hatred, once confined to the mind where these thoughts can be reflected upon but has now spilt out onto the page for all to see.
We all need to take a moment and remember that not everything has to be shared publicly. We need to reflect on contextualization and take time to examine it against reality and critical thinking. The clinical space, its boundaries of time and location, can provide the holding and containing for our disturbance and anxiety in order to gain a better understanding of ourselves.
Thea Beech is a UKCP registered Group Analyst, full member of the Institute of Group Analysis and a Training Group Analyst. Her work in psychodynamic psychotherapy spans 20 years in the NHS and for the last 10 years overseas in South Africa. Thea is available at our Brighton and Hove Practice.