Team Building Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1739 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Psychology

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Sigmund Freud's work on collective psychology, "Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego" is a masterpiece on group psychology. It is an examination of psychoanalysis focused on how the individual performs within the group. Freud contends that all the peculiarities within the behavior of crowds can be easily explained through the application of customary psychoanalytic formulae. The principle question within the book is what is the mental dynamic that holds together the individual within the group context. The relevance of this text to group dynamics is that Freud explores and gains an understanding of how individuals coexist within a group. He pre-supposes that it is not "suggestion" which produces the mental unity of crowds, but rather love, or libido. The principle theme explores how individual's interactions affect the group's form, as well as the strong relationships and roles created to ensure the continuity and stability of the group. Implicit within the formation of groups is also how groups deteoriate and ultimately become destroyed. Freud's analysis has significant impact on the practice of human resources development. He explores fully how human interactions will impact the success of groups and organizations. Thus, a thorough analysis of his text will shed light on how HR managers must utilize group psychology to promote the greater unity of individuals and belief in the common cause.

The first and most important position Freud posits is that of the libido. He argues that the members of a crowd are bound principally by ties of love and affection garnered to both the leader of the crowd as well as each other. He explains, "Each individual is bound by libidinal ties on the one hand to the leader and on the other hand to other members of the group" (p. 87). The construct of love as the defining aspect of group dynamics is a claim that has been posited by many other of Freud's contemporaries. Through the application of libido as the driving force behind social interactions, Freud draws further conclusions about group dynamics. One of Freud's specific applications of group psychology is his explanation of the phenomena of contagion and gregariousness in crowds and mobs. He views the group leader as the father of the primal hoard rather than just the oedipal father. This observation is central to the understanding of leader dynamics, the leader is the most dominant member of the group because it acts as a surrogate father. As a result, his power comes from both an obligation of obedience and respect of pseudo-fatherhood. The application of this concept to HR professionals is to understand the function of the leader-follower dynamic. Hiring an individual who has natural leadership abilities to a team that already consists of a strong leader, will cause disharmony, because the primal father-son primal relationship of the group dynamic will be broken. Recruitment therefore must a process of surrounding a leader with a dynamic group of individuals who will subconsciously recognize him as the intuitive leader and father figure for the group.

Just as the formation of group dynamics involves the libido, the breakup and detoriation of groups also corresponds to this. Freud's analysis of the breakup of the group is especially interesting. He argues that the libido accounts for group morph dynamics, or the disappearance of the group. In order to argue his point, he provides the examples of the church and the army. He shows how both of these organizations can come apart as the result of a loss in libidinal bonds to the leader. The leader, as the father of the primal horde holds strong libidinal bonds over the group, when he loses this bond; there is strong impetus for the group to stay united. At the same time, Freud argues that the formation and union of the group is accomplished through the power of love. Love is capable of overcoming the inherent narcissism and hatred that distance us from one another. The application of this analysis to group dynamics from an HR perspective is how to formulate a team from fragmenting. The leader of the group is the most important individual; he must have strong bonds with everyone within the group, so much so that the member of the group feels love for the leader, and the group as a whole. To understand how a leader might lose the libidinal connection of his peers, Freud explains that panic is one of the primary breaking points. In the case of mass panic, the libidinal relationship is completely broken because "panic dread presupposes a relaxation of the libidinal structure of the group." Only through this group dynamic will individuals be capable of sacrificing themselves for the betterment of group as a whole. At the same time, it is a warning that leaders are not given absolute power, and the relationship between leaders and followers is always a tenuous one. It is the responsibility of HR to determine the precise balance and to counsel both sides so that libidinal bonds are not destroyed.

Freud also uses this narrative to identify the psychic formations that ensure the cohesion of the entire group. Freud articulates the different identificatory processes inherent within group dynamics, as well as distinguishing the ego's identifications from those of the "ego ideal." He explains, "A primary group... is a number of individuals who have put one and the same object in the place of their ego ideal and have consequently identified themselves with one another in their ego" (p. 116). These key identificatory processes create the cohesion within groups, in that they cause members within the group to forgo their own individual needs and assume a higher "ego ideal." The sharing of a common objective is identified by Freud is the foundational concept for why groups form and maintain cohesion. Yet he also warns that there is a generic quality to both alienation and submission that plays an inherent role within group membership. The application of group cohesion identificatory process is extremely important within HR concepts. Understanding that fundamental importance of cohesion through shared objectives is the first goal of HR. Freud maintains that within the group, alienation is an inevitable response to the shedding of individual ego ideals and assuming the group objective. In effect, alienation becomes a strong impetus for individuals to join the group, not wanting to be excluded from the shared cohesion. It is up to HR to create a vision and cohesion from the leadership perspective to ensure that members feel a strong desire and need to join the group. Thus, submission is the underlying dynamic of group cohesion. The only way to maintain a strong group dynamic is to create the leader-follower dynamic where followers will forfeit their own ideals in order to succumb to the group objective. Through the identification of these factors, Freud gives a strong perspective on how to create cohesion within groups and maintain strong bonds of unity through sacrificing of the ego ideal for a group objective.

The most important connection that Freud makes within this work is to distinguish the intrinsic relationship between individual and group psychology. He creates a division between three paradigmatic forms and group dynamics. These three groups are formed through the specific degree of the weakening of the collective ego ideal. He separates these groups into "the horde," "the matriarchy," and the "totemic clan." He interestingly suggests that the first formation of the ego ideal occurs through the oral tradition of the totemic clan. This occurs when a clan fashions the myth of their origin, or the myth of creation. This myth by extension is the first step that the individual takes to succumbing to the group. It ties the individual to a sense of divine and helpless attachment to the group at the most fundamental level. Freud's demonstration of group behavior is important to HR because it establishes the hierarchy of techniques that must be undertaken to create a successful team. Strong foundational values must be implemented at the early stage in order to indoctrinate individuals into the culture of the workplace. Just as totemic clans used mythology to bind individuals into the collective destiny of the group; similar use of corporate culture can cause individuals to be part of the overall vision of the corporation.

Much like other notable psychologists preceding him such as Le Bon, Freud attempts to explain the phenomena of the collective life through individual psychology. In doing so, Freud utilized this book as a means to eliminate the commonplace notions of heredity, mentality and suggestion as motives for collective behavior. Instead replacing them with a self-constructed model of unconscious identification. Freud's purpose within this seminal work is to clarify the irrationality of the group in order to reduce it. Despite his strong claims and the backing of his contemporaries, many current psychologists view this work on psychoanalysis as less provocative than his other works. One such expert, Robert E. Park, on review of this book explains, "Suggestion, imitation, the herd instinct, and every other attempt to solve… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Term Paper:

APA Format

Team Building.  (2007, February 7).  Retrieved December 12, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Team Building."  7 February 2007.  Web.  12 December 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Team Building."  February 7, 2007.  Accessed December 12, 2019.